Sep 20

2,000 Years of Human History at Mission Garden

For the last ten years, visitors to the Mission Garden, located at the base of Sentinel Peak ("A" Mountain) have watched as fruit trees grow from saplings into tall trees, seen an acequia (canal) built and stocked with an endangered species, viewed crops being harvested and food preparation methods demonstrated.…

Sep 14

Archaeology Archive: What Lay Beneath Spruce Street

Homer Thiel discusses what we learned about the Chinese men who came to Tucson while working on the railroad in the late 1800s and stayed here to make lives for themselves. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a housing development was constructed along the road leading to the summit…

Aug 19

New Insights on the Tucson Presidio from the Historic Pima County Courthouse

Homer Thiel discusses ancient and historical cultural resources encountered on the grounds of the Historic Pima County Courthouse in Tucson during renovations and the construction of the January 8 Memorial. Pima County has recently completed the renovation of the 1929 Pima County Courthouse, now the home of the Southern Arizona…

Oct 22

Women in the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Homer Thiel examines the lives of people who have often been rendered invisible in history: the women who lived in the Tucson Presidio in the 18th and 19th centuries. Tucson, Arizona was a Spanish and Mexican military fortress (the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson) between 1776 and 1856. During this…

Aug 26

The Historic Era at Fort Lowell

Homer Thiel describes the history of some of the military structures you will see when visiting Fort Lowell park in Tucson. In 1873 the soldiers stationed at Camp Lowell in downtown Tucson (now Armory Park) packed up their tents, weapons, and equipment and moved several miles to the northeast. Poor…

Stylized snippet of an oil paining of San Agustin Jul 19

The History of the San Agustín Festival in Tucson

Homer Thiel discusses a long-celebrated late summer festival in Tucson, and how the tradition of the San Agustín Festival helped us make sense of a dense archaeological deposit near the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson. During the Territorial Period (1856-1912), residents of Tucson celebrated three festivals. The San…

Line drawing of a bowl of ice cream superimposed on a historic photograph of downtown Tucson Jun 29

The First Ice Cream in Tucson

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel comes to the rescue with tales of cold, sweet historical relief from the heat. Tucson and much of the rest of the Southwestern United States are undergoing record-breaking heat. In was hot in the past too, especially in early Territorial period (1856-1912) Tucson. One way to…

Oct 22

E. J. Smith: Tucson’s First Professional Undertaker

During the Presidio (1775-1856) and early Territorial (1856-early 1900s) periods, family members and friends cared for the bodies of deceased people in Tucson. Local carpenters nailed together coffins, sometimes decorating them with paint and fabric. Religious leaders or friends conducted the funeral, and then the bodies were buried in the…