A New Territory and a New State:

Many 'anglos' - so called by most historians - either came to Tucson to establish new lives, or passed through it on their way west. Some stayed here even before the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, in which land that makes up present-day Arizona and New Mexico was bought from the Mexican government. We were then part of Donana County, New Mexico, which split the two states latitudinally into the two counties of the new territory. This jurisdiction is found in some of the earliest records in the county archives. The earliest books of the County Clerk show deaths, marriages, court cases and other entries that make fascinating and often amusing reading. One person, who lived in the farms on the west banks of the Santa Cruz, sued his neighbor because her unfenced cows often had digestive problems near his front door and the aroma offended him. Not surprisingly, the judge ruled that she had to keep them confined.

Anglos continued to pour into the area, and the names on early plat maps of Tucson and of elected officials present an interesting mix. There were Oury, Tully, Warner, the above mentioned Meyers, and others such as Carrillo, Samaniego, Elias, Bonillas, Ochoa, Laos and Ronstadt. These early community leaders traded off the various County titles in an even mix of anglo and Mexican names for years. (For history buffs, I recommend reading 'Los Tucsonenses', by Thomas E. Sheridan - a fascinating account of the Mexican community in Tucson).

When Arizona was made an official Territory at the height of the Civil War in 1863, it saw its only action in that war at the Battle of Picacho Peak, a relatively small skirmish in which the Confederate troops rather decisively beat the small detachment of Union soldiers. Tucson was very much on the side of the South. Also in this period was the construction of Fort Lowell, then a remote outpost to house the troops that helped guard Tucson. As we all know, many of the building comprising the Fort exist today right in Flecha Caida's front yard.

Tucson and its environs continued to grow for the rest of the century. The coming of the Southern Pacific railroad to Tucson in 1880 was one of the most important events of that time. It was during these years that business leaders such as the Steinfelds, the Jacomes, and the Ronstadts began the businesses that marked the true urbanization of the eastern end of Pima County. The University of Arizona was also founded in the 1880's, a sure sign that the city was truly becoming more urban and sophisticated. Neighborhoods such as Armory Park and 'Snob Hollow' to the west of the old Presidio area were developed. Luckily, some of these lovely old homes stand to this day, such as Manning House on Paseo Redondo, the Rockwell house on Main Street and several others. Walking tours of these areas are available.

Because so many of the old families have remained here, we have a sense of history and tradition that has saved all but a few of the treasures that have disappeared in other communities. There have almost always been members of these families in local government reminding Tucson's citizens of the rich history of the area.

This attitude has nearly always prevailed as we grew, except for a brief period in the early 1970's when some old homes in the Barrio were torn down to build the new Tucson Community Center, relocating some of the city's 'first families'. Such a hue and cry went up that subsequent 'master plans' have usually been sensitive to our history and its importance to those who live here. If not, the planners soon hear about it.

As the Twentieth Century got underway, Tucson became a 'destination' for adventurous travelers. Area ranches began taking in guests, the old El Conquistador Hotel was built (now the site of the El con Mall) and we added a new "C" to the traditional Copper, Cattle, and Cotton that made up our industrial base - Climate. The Arizona Inn was popular with tourists beginning in 1930. To this day, it is a delightful spot for weddings and other celebrations, and a perennial favorite of many visitors. Wild Horse Ranch opened in 1940, a guest ranch near Cortaro Road. The main house was an expansion of an old, stone building that served as a stop on the Butterfield Stage route. For commercial travelers, the Pioneer Hotel on Stone and Pennington downtown was the accommodation of choice. It was built with funds supplied by the Steinfeld family, who owned an upscale department store across the street and who were tragically killed in hte fire that engulfed the Pioneer in 1973. Golf became the recreation of choice and many resorts were and are centered on lush golf courses.

Growth continued with careful planning and monitoring. Within the next several years, more than a thousand dwelling units will have been added south of the Flechas and north of Grant Road. Plans to extend Alvernon Way across the Rillito are also underway, eventually replacing the old Dodge Bridge that has stood for so long. A linear park will extend for miles along both banks of the Rillito as well, including what is, for some reason, called a 'wetlands' area where Columbus Boulevard dead ends at the river. Well, maybe occasionally.