The village of Tumacacori began in 1691 with Father Kino, a Spanish missionary. Father Kino was sent to the area to teach the Indians about religion and farming. After Father Kino, many other missionaries came to Tumacacori to continue his work.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s when the present chapel was build. Franciscan Father Narciso Gutierrez is noted for the chapel’s construction. The work on Tumacacori went slowly and it wasn’t completed until 1822. It was at this same time that the Mexican government stopped its funding of missionaries. The government also began to round up the missionaries and send them back to their home countries.
Father Ramon Liberos of Spain was the last missionary at Tumacacori. He was sent away in 1828. The Indians in the area cared for Tumacacori after his absence. Unfortunately, Apache Indian raids in the area forced the Indians to leave. In 1848, the last Indian inhabitants collected the chapel’s furnishings and headed north to the mission called San Xavier del Bac.
Then in 1908, after years of neglect Tumacacori was recognized as a National Historical Park. This early Spanish colonial mission is surrounded by 47 acres of park. Today a museum at the site gives visitors a look back at the history of the Indians and Spanish inhabitants. The museum has several wooden statues that were left behind. The visitor center is a historic building completed in 1937. A 14-minute video gives visitors an understanding of what life was like at Tumacacori in the early 1800’s. There is also a bookstore filled with information on the general area and its history.
The preservation of the adobe chapel and the nearby structures are an ongoing concern. The park is always trying to meet the balance of the need to protect and the public’s need to learn about its history. Guided tours are given every day during the winter months. Living history tours showing the life during the Franciscans period are given with advance notice only. Visitors can also go a self-guided tour of Tumacacori. The tour describes the chapel, graveyard, storeroom and other structures nearby.
The Tumacacori National State Park is alive with activity during the winter months. Visitors will see local and Mexican artisans demonstrating traditional crafts such as tortilla making, paper flower making and pottery.
You may picnic in the designated areas near Tumacacori, but camping is prohibited.
The Tumacacori National Historical Park is open every day from 8:00 to 5:00 pm, except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Admission is $1.00 per car. If you would like more information on this National Historic Park, you may call 520-398-2341.
You can get to Tumacacori from Nogales by taking Interstate 19 north out of town. It is approximately 19 miles north of Nogales. You will see the exit for Tumacacori. You can get to Tumacacori from Tucson by taking Interstate 19 south out of town. It is approximately 50 miles south of Tucson. You will see the signs for the exit.