“We will build it here” are the reported words of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino on January 26, 1691 as he stood on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River near a Tohono O’odham village named Tumacacori. The following day some 20 miles up river, Kino established a second mission along the river and called this mission Guevavi. Both these historic sites can be enjoyed today by visiting Tumacacori National Monument in southern Arizona.
When Kino arrived at Tumacacori on that January day, the native people had built three brush shelters for him to rest and to care for the native people. Kino did not build an actual church here. That would come many years after his death when the mission San Jose de Tumacacori was moved to the west side of the Santa Cruz River to be closer to the newly constructed Presidio of Tubac.
The Jesuit priest of Tumacacori completed a small adobe church in 1757 but when all Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish Empire in 1767, Tumacacori came under the control of the Franciscans.
The church we see today at Tumacacori National Monument was built by Franciscan priests and local native people between 1800 and 1822. The 310-acre national monument site is covered with historic ruins, hiking trails and educational opportunities.
San Gabriel de Guevavi was established by Father Kino one day after Tumacacori and was to be the local headquarters for the several Jesuit missions of the area. The first adobe church at Guevavi was completed in 1701. The ruins that can be seen today are from a church completed in 1751. These ruins of Guevavi are the oldest Jesuit ruins found in Arizona.
Father Kino knew this land of Tumacacori and Guevavi as the Pimeria Alta, the upper lands of the Pima Indians. Today when standing at the ruins of Guevavi and looking to the southwest, one is within 10 miles of that desert canyon once covered with oak trees and known as Artizona during that famous 1736 silver strike.
Tumacacori National Monument can be visited every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Special arrangements must by made at Tumacacori National Monument to visit the ruins of Guevavi. In fact, with a little planning, Ranger Don Grate himself can be your personal guide to Guevavi. And when you are at the ruins, ask Ranger Grate just how Arizona got its name and prepare yourself for a great lesson in Arizona’s history.
One final suggestion for this southern Arizona trip is to plan to stay at a bed & breakfast known as Hacienda Corona de Guevavi. The Guevavi ruins are found on this ranch and the host and accommodations are wonderful. So get out and enjoy Arizona’s beautiful spring weather with a trip to Tumacacori and Guevavi! You’ll be glad you did!
|Tumacacori National Monument|
|Ruins of Guevavi|
|Tumacacori Ranger Garate'|
|Hacienda Corona de Guevavi|