Santa Cruz Valley

Keys To The Santa Cruz Valley

    From Native American farmers to Spanish missionaries to Anglo Settlers to todays retirees, the now dry riverbed of the Santa Cruz is one of the most interesting historical, heritage and wildlife areas in the sunny Southwest.

   From Tucson, it is an easy and beautiful drive south on I-19 through what is known as the Santa Cruz Valley and to Nogales, AZ and on to Mexico. The return trip can be made on Hwy. 83 passing through Patagonia, Sonota and Elgin which are on the east side of the Santa Rita mountains and is another great destination journey.

  Each city along the route has it’s own history and culture, and it is a joy to find out about each and every area. Early Indian culture, Spanish Missions, the Titan Missile Museum and bird watching seem to blend into a perfect mix of old and new.  Mountains and missions, golfing to Gazpacho, any and all areas of interest can be found. It’s only up to you to search and discover for yourself.

    Sahuarita, probably the newest town (1994) but with a long history of family is just south of Tucson. A wonderful multi-age community with new shopping areas and planned communities, yet a farming community proud of The Pecan Store with it’s home grown treats that are not to be missed. Housing in Sahuarita includes family and age restricted, some of the oldest homes in the area and plenty of new homes being built, both luxury and modest.

   Next is Green Valley, begun in 1964


Valley, and then on down to visit the old mission at Tumacácori National Historical Park. The frontage road from Tubac to Tumacacori is an easy way to get to Carmen and Tumacacori. On the other side of the Santa Rita Mountains and San Cayetano Mountains, down Highway 82, is ARIZONA’S WINE COUNTRY – Sonoita – Elgin, and Patagonia. Traveling south on Highway 82, from Patagonia, you will enter Nogales, Arizona’s Gateway to Mexico.



Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance

Ranching Traditions 1680 to Present











Map of Santa Cruz Valley in Southern Arizona

From Tucson to Nogales

Newcomers to Tucson know the Santa Cruz River as a dry bed that can become a rampaging flood after heavy rains. Yet until the late nineteenth century, the Santa Cruz was an active watercourse that served the region’s agricultural needs—until a burgeoning industrial society began to tap the river’s underground flow. The Lessening Stream reviews the changing human use of the Santa Cruz River and its aquifer from the earliest human presence in the valley to today. Michael Logan examines the social, cultural, and political history of the Santa Cruz Valley while interpreting the implications of various cultures’ impacts on the river and speculating about the future of water in the region. Logan traces river history through three eras—archaic, modern, and postmodern—to capture the human history of the river from early Native American farmers through Spanish missionaries to Anglo settlers. He shows how humans first diverted its surface flow, then learned to pump its aquifer, and today fail to fully understand the river’s place in the urban environment. By telling the story of the meandering river—from its origin in southern Arizona through Mexico and the Tucson Basin to its terminus in farmland near Phoenix—Logan links developments throughout the river valley so that a more complete picture of the river’s history emerges. He also contemplates the future of the Santa Cruz by confronting the serious problems posed by groundwater pumping in Tucson and addressing the effects of the Central Arizona Project on the river valley. Skillfully interweaving history with hydrology, geology, archaeology, and anthropology, The Lessening Stream makes an important contribution to the environmental history of southern Arizona.

About the Author

Michael F. Logan is an assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. His interest in the urban West stems in part from having witnessed firsthand the growth of Tucson, Arizona, from a modest-sized city to a metropolis.