The Presidio of Tubac, Part II: Nothing Ever Completely Fades

The Presidio Museum and Otero Hall preserve the story of Tubac’s on- again, off-again Spanish settlement.  As mentioned earlier, Toribio Otero and his descendants were largely responsible for the early efforts at educating, and refining the quality of life of, both Spanish settler children and the indigenous Pima.  Don Toribio was also a farmer and rancher.

His implements for bringing water from the aquifer underneath, and for grinding corn and amaranth, were those commonly used in Spain at the time.  It is often forgotten that the west of Spain is much like our arid Southwest.  This was one of the reasons the Spanish were not put off by the climate of places like Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and eastern California.

Here are the water pump and examples of the grindstones used in Pimeria Alta, in the Spanish era.


The Spanish did not import everything, though.  Native mesquite and ocotillo were used in construction, especially in roofing and fence-making.  Adobe was a common building block.


The living conditions of the Oteros, and other second-wave Spanish settlers in Tubac in the 1780’s, were not as comfortable as those of the great haciendas in other parts of New Spain.  The quarters were small and the furnishings sparse.

Settler women, though, made sure there were reminders of home, at least in their apparel.

Gold was always on the minds of the conquistadores, to the point that the ossuaries which held the remains of the departed, for whom coffins were regarded as a lower class repository, were made of the precious metal.

Fast forward a bit, and an American item of note in Otero Hall is a Washington hand-printing press.  It was used to print the first newspaper in Tubac (1859) and is still operational.


The Rojas House, built in 1890, was a caretaker’s residence just south of the Presidio, until the last caretaker, Luisa Rojas, died in 1989.  It is now part of the Presidio of Tubac State Park.


The Rojas yard, like many in the area, has its own shrine to the Madonna and a water trough.

After nearly three hours among the shops and in the Presidio, it was time to cross the foot bridge to Tubac Stone House,

and enjoy some lunch.

There was another treat in store, three miles down the road:  Tumacacori.



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