Stepping Back 200 Years

tnhp-vc-doorAs we step through the heavy wooden doors into the adobe visitor center at Tumacacori National Historical Park we begin the journey back two centuries. Jesuits arrived from Mexico to establish missions among the Piman Indians to bring Christianity to the New World. Father Kino established San Cayetano De Tumacacori in 1691.

After the Jesuits’ expulsion from New Spain in 1767-68 Franciscans were assigned to the missions. By 1800 they begun building a large church – one they hoped would rival San Xavier del Bac. The church was never complete as originally designed and by 1848 the last residents left Tumacacori.tnhp-church-in-arch

The National Historical Park encompasses remains of the church, cemetery, mortuary chapel, lime kiln and convento. A reconstructed O’odham house, patio garden, museum (currently closed for renovation) and book store are also part of the site. Mass is periodically held in the church and during our visit this afternoon the Santa Cruz Singers were arriving for a concert.

tnhp-through-the-window2Photographers find a plethora of interesting angles, framing and details. Today Dora Hernandez worked beneath a ramada making fresh flour tortillas. For a donation visitors topped their tortillas with beans, salsa and/or cheese and savored a bit of tradition. At a table in the courtyard an elder taught a young girl the art of cutting paper flowers.tnhp-tortillas

Hikers can follow the De Anza Trail from Tumacacori along the Santa Cruz River to Tubac.

While Tubac attracts a legion of tourists, Tumacacori calls me to stop along the journey and step back to an earlier time.


When You Go: Tumacacori National Historical Park is located 45 miles south of Tucson at exit 19 of I-19. Open 8am – 5pm daily except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. There are picnic tables but no campground.