Explore Tucson Arizona / Historic Landmarks

El Presisio San Augustin del Tucson

At one time a Papago Indian village stood where present day Tucson is. The first Jesuit priest visited the Tucson area in 1692 and the Franciscans followed after that.

In 1775 the Spanish built El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson to help solidify their claim to the northern frontier of New Spain. One positive reason for the selection of Tucson as a garrison site was provided by the Native Americans themselves.

tucson in the 1800's

Tucson in the 1800’s

The Spanish first built the Tubac Presidio, about forty miles south of Tucson in 1751. This was following an Indian rebellion in which Tubac was razed and most of its inhabitants slain.

When the Spaniards built their missions along the California coast northward from San Diego in 1769, there was a need for protection for an overland route to frontier California from Sonora. Because of this the Spaniards ordered the garrison at the Tubac Presidio transferred northward to the new presidio in Tucson. The Tucson Presidio would be built along the Santa Cruz River across from Pimam Tucson.

st anns tubac arizona

St Anns Church in Tubac Arizona

Visiting St. Anns Church

While St. Anns Church is in Tubac Arizona, just a short drive south of Tucson, it is worth adding it to your Tucson trip planner. Along with it’s deep Spanish history, today, Tubac is a growing art community and offers fine resorts, shopping and dining.

A guided walking tour map of Tubac is available from any of the town merchants and at the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.

St. Ann’s Church, which stands on Calle Iglesia near Placita de Anza in Tubac, is a relatively modern reminder of the presence of the Catholic Church in the area for most of 250 years.

Construction of a new church on the site of the original churches was begun in 1910 after parishioners mounted a fund drive, and St. Ann’s Church was completed in 1912.

tucson arizona presidio

Photo of the reconstruction Presidio San Agustin del Tucson northeast bastion, 2009.

Building El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson

The social structure of the entirety of colonial Spanish America had been built around a base of food-producing Native Americans. In fact one big reason why the site for the new presidio in Tucson was chosen  was because of the close proximity of the Indians.

Defense officials could rely, they assumed, upon the Native American gardens at Tucson providing the garrison with at least some of its food needs. The site also offered adequate pasturage and firewood resources.

The new Tucson garrison was responsible with building the presidio.  Tucson garrison at first lived on an open post. A typically defensive fort was not built immediately at the new location, even though some Apache bands had been stealing horses and raiding and killing settlers near Spanish outposts to the east since 1773.

The first actual fortifications erected apparently consisted of a wooden palisade. Some of the houses of citizens and soldiers were outside the palisade. Eventually an earthen defensive wall surrounded the military post, although some members of the garrison and civilians still lived in houses outside the wall.

tucson historic district

Tucson Historic District street photo

The El Presidio Historic District

As one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in the country, Downtown Tucson has no shortage of history. Located downtown at Washington and Church Shttp://tripsintohistory.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=10483&action=edit&message=10treets, the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson is a re-creation of the northeast corner of the original 1775 Spanish presidio.

The walls of the Presidio were said to have run along Washington Street on the north, Church Street on the east, Pennington Street on the south, and Main Avenue on the west. Each wall was reported to be approximately 750 feet long.

The El Presidio Historic District is a residential neighborhood containing adobe and brick buildings in the Spanish-Mexican, Anglo-American and Eclectic architectural styles. The district is on the site of a prehistoric Hohokam Indian site and the original presidio. The Tucson Presidio Trust hosts Living History Festivals, October through April, where visitors can sample Spanish colonial food, listen to stories of old Tucson, learn period crafts and see musket and cannon fire.

The El Presidio Historic District is located north of West Alameda Street and west of North Church Street.

southern pacific steam locomotive exhibit

Southern Pacific locomotive exhibit outside Tucson Railroad museum

Tucson and the Southern Pacific Railroad

There’s one thing about Tucson Arizona that differentiates it from many of the other towns in southern Arizona and New Mexico. While the Southern Pacific Railroad certainly added to the growth of Tucson, the difference is that Tucson was a key settlement long before the arrival of the railroad.

Where some Arizona towns grew in direct relationship with the Southern Pacific Railroad, the story of Tucson, as explained above has all to do with the Spanish fort on 1775. Also, one time during the American Civil War Tucson served as the capital of the Confederates western Arizona region.

reno locomotive of the virginia and truckee railroad

reno Locomotive built in 1872

The Old Tucson Studios

This is a site you want to be sure to visit when in Tucson Arizona. The Old Tucson Studios is a replica of an old western town that was built in 1939 for the movie “Arizona”. The studios have also been used for many western movies and TV films. The studios offer visitors stage coach rides as well as rides on a narrow gauge railroad.

Also see the staged old west gunfights and stunt performances. Also see Old Tucson’s very own “silent” movie star, The Reno locomotive. The locomotive is stationed at the north end of Old Town Tucson. The Reno has more than 100 film and television credits. From Interstate 10 exit at Speedway Blvd and head west following signs to Old Tucson. From Interstate 19 exit at Ajo Way (AZ 86) and head west following signs to Old Tucson Studios.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Visit to Fort Apache Historic Park

Western Civil War Trips

Drive the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway

A La Jolla California Getaway

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is also located in Old Town Tucson adjacent to the train station. The museum address is 414 N. Toole Ave. Tucson, AZ. Here you can explore much of the town’s railroad history regarding the Southern Pacific Railroad.

southern arizona transportation museum

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum adjacent to the Tucson Train Depot

Outside of this Old Town Tucson museum is the famous Southern Pacific Railroad locomotive #1673. Southern Pacific locomotive #1673 is one of 105 of its type originally numbered 1615-1719. During it’s operation on the Southern Pacific it traveled over one million miles, primarily in freight service in the Southern Arizona region.

The locomotive was built by Schenectady Locomotive Works in New York in the year 1900. The SP locomotive #1673 was retired in 1955 and donated to the city of Tucson. In December of 2000, the old engine and tender were brought home to the historic Southern Pacific depot in downtown Old Town Tucson.

Hotel Congress

Now here is an old hotel with quite a history. The Hotel Congress, located in Old Town Tucson and across the street from the Tucson train station, in itself is a living piece of Tucson history.

historic tucson hotels

Historic Hotel Congress

The Hotel Congress is a historic building located in downtown Tucson and built in 1919.

The train station directly across the street at the rear of the hotel. The Hotel Congress building was added to the National Historic Register in 2003. The hotel is a valuable part of the Old Tucson community.

The Hotel Congress is conveniently located downtown and is extremely well restored right down to the rotary dial phones in the rooms. The Hotel Congress is also home to a Tap Room, the music venue Club Congress and an excellent restaurant. Club Congress is a music venue attached to the historic hotel. The music venue was opened in 1985. You’ll also find a great patio for food and beverages and it’s a good place to people watch.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos of Congress Hotel, Southern Arizona Transportation Museum and Southern Pacific Steam Locomotive from Trips Into History Collection. Remainder of photos and images in the public domain.)

Visit An Historic Downtown Dallas Texas Museum

The Old Red Museum is a treat to visit and is a fine addition to your Dallas Texas trip planner. The Old red Museum is located in downtown Dallas Texas. The museum is  located in a very historic and renovated building that was built in 1892. It’s remarkable that this 19th century structure served as the Dallas County Courthouse until 1966.

old red museum dallas texas

The Old Red Museum

Today, The Old Red Museum is an excellent venue to learn how this city grew from one man’s 1841 settlement to a major metropolitan area of the twenty-first century. The museum is filled with artifacts, stories and photos about early Dallas and all the way to the present.

The Old Red Museum

The building was constructed of red sandstone in a Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. The building was known locally as the Old Red Courthouse located at the southwest corner of Commerce and Houston Streets. This 19th century building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old Red Museum is on the first floor of the Old Red Courthouse and exhibits the evolution of Dallas. Four permanent exhibits detail the history of Dallas Texas. These four galleries feature 41 interactive touch-screen kiosks making this venue one of the most interactive ones you’ll ever have the opportunity to visit.

old dallas county courthouse

Clock Tower on the Old Dallas County Courthouse

The Children’s Education Center within the museum offers a hands on and interactive experience for kids. Kids can create their own stained glass window and they can , uncover historical features using architecture rubbings. This allows them to find out architectural details that make Dallas buildings very unique. The museum also rotates a series of special exhibits that celebrate unique aspects of Dallas art and history.

This 1892 old Red Courthouse features some of Dallas and Dallas County’s most fascinating historical artifacts. The Old Red Museum also hosts special events. For more information about exhibits and what’s happening at the museum see their Facebook Page at the link below…

The Old red Museum

Dallas Founded During The Days of the Republic of Texas

Dallas Texas was founded in 1841, about five years after the Republic of Texas was founded.

John Neely Bryan from Arkansas built a log cabin in 1841 near a river and called the settlement Dallas. The river is what today is the Trinity floodplain and had existing trails made by the Native American Caddo tribe. The site on the Trinity River where Bryan established his outpost was known as the White Rock Crossing. The crossing was considered easy for wagons before ferry service and bridges were erected.

unique old dallas architecture

Unique architecture of the 1892 building

Bryan’s log cabin would become a trading post. Like some other early settlement, one person might serve several functions. John Bryan served in three capacities. Bryan served as Dallas’ first postmaster, a general store owner and a ferry boat operator. Three years after the founding of this settlement a plan was laid out establishing city blocks that would one day become modern downtown Dallas Texas. Again, this all occurred at the time of the Republic of Texas which would shortly be annexed by the United States in 1845 at the time of the Mexican-American War. Dallas would be incorporated six years later in 1851.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Visit to Historic Fredericksburg Texas

Touring The Texas Hill Country

How Dallas Got it’s Name

The story of how Dallas was named Dallas has a few versions.

One version has it named from a naming contest in 1842. A second version says that it may have been named after an 1842 settler named Joseph Dallas. Another is that it was named after a friend of John Neely Bryan. A fourth version has the settlement named after a naval Commodore and yet another version says that it was named after a U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. It has never been concluded exactly which is the official or real version however any of the above versions is possible.

dealey plaza dallas texas

Looking north to Dealey Plaza and the old Texas schoolbook depository Building. Now the site of the Sixth Floor Museum

Visiting The Old Red Museum

The Old Red Museum is located in the heart of downtown Dallas Texas. It is available for both individual and group tours and is currently open 9A-5P daily.

Because The Old Red Museum is located in the heart of Dallas, there’s several other interesting sites to see nearby.  The museum is adjacent to the JFK Memorial and Dealey Plaza, a National Historic Landmark District. It is also across the street from a replica of Dallas founder John Neely Bryan’s cabin and just a block south of The Sixth Floor Museum and the historic West End of Dallas. All of these sites are in easy walking distance to the others and offer excellent photo opportunities.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

Attend Navajo Rug Auctions

One of those sought after Native American products are the beautiful Navajo Rugs. There’s quite a bit of history involved as to when and how the Navajo began making these very distinctive products.

genuine navajo blankets and rugs

Navajo blankts on display at Hubbell Trading Post on Navajo Reservation

History of Navajo Weaving

Historians believe that the  Navajo may have learned to weave from the Pueblo Indians when the Navajo moved into the Four Corners region of Arizona and New Mexico between the era of the 1300’s to the 1500’s.

Some others believe that the Navajo’s were not involved in weaving to perhaps the 1700’s. This would have been after the Spaniards entered the region. At first the Navajo’s employed cotton for their weaving products but it seems that they converted over to wool after the Spaniards arrived.

There’s some interesting history that might explain how the Navajo’s learned the craft from the nearby pueblo peoples. While historians can document that the two different tribes did not exactly get along because of Navajo raids into pueblo territory, it appears that the two tribes did indeed forge some type of friendship after the Conquistadors entered the picture.

The pueblo Indians were put into a kind of forced servitude during the first Spanish occupation of Nuevo Mexico which resulted in the bloody Pueblo Revolt of 1680. It was during and after this revolt that many pueblo Indians fled westward to the land of the Navajo. The Pueblo Revolt expelled the Spaniards from Nuevo Mexico for twelve years.

old hubbell trading post 1800's

Hubbell Trading Post in the 1890’s

The earliest pieces of Navajo weaving which can be dated and that still exist today come to us from Massacre Cave in Canon del Muerto.

Pieces of Navajo weaving dating to the years 1804-05 when the punitive slaughter took place in the Canon, were found circa 1900. These pieces contain a plain stripe pattern in the blanket’s design. This is considered a Navajo adaptation of the Pueblo teacher’s style of design.

Navajo Blankets and Rugs and the Santa Fe Trail

Commerce increased for the Navajo and the selling of Navajo blankets and Navajo rugs after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1822. The trail established a busy commerce link between New Mexico which was then ruled by Mexico and the growing United States. Prior to that time the Spaniards were known to discourage trade with the U.S. The establishing of trade over the Santa Fe Trail was the single largest event that introduced their weaving products to the east.

The first Navajo products on the market were blankets rather than rugs. The change to rugs occurred circa 1880.


Today, there is a large market for the Navajo rugs and Navajo blankets and many Navajo’s are involved in it’s commercialization. These genuine Navajo rug products today might sell for around $800 depending on size and for many Navajo’s this business represents their sole income. The only real obstacle for their rug industry are the many foreign imitations that are found in many shops.

It’s important to know what you’re buying and while there are certainly many top-notch dealers of genuine Navajo rugs in the Santa Fe and surrounding area, one excellent auction venue in particular, the Crownpoint Auction, will allow you to buy the real thing directly on the Navajo reservation.

genuine navajo rugSee the four Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Driving the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Highway

The Cliff House of Manitou Springs

Explore Western Art in San Antonio Texas

Barrio de Analco and America’s Oldest House

The Crownpoint Auctions

Navajo weavers from all over the Southwest converge on a small rural New Mexico town to sell their decorative rugs by way of an auction.
Auctions are held usually the second Friday of each month on the Navajo reservation. The auctions is planned to start at about 7 pm and ends around 10 pm. Rug viewing begins at 4:00 PM and ends at 6:30 PM allowing the many prospective buyers to examine the rugs prior to the auction at 7:00 PM. Payment is accepted in cash, traveler checks or personal checks. The auction does not accept credit cards.
Navajo winter hogan

Navajo winter hogan, circa 1895

The auction itself is held at the Crownpoint Elementary School in the small town of Crownpoint. The town is located about 25 miles north of Thoreau New Mexico on NM 371. The Thoreau exit on Interstate-40 is #53.

Thoreau is located between Gallup and Grants New Mexico. If you’re in Santa Fe or on Interstate-40 in New Mexico on the auction dates, a visit to the Crownpoint Auction makes a very unique and rewarding side trip.


Buyers at the Crownpoint Rug Auction have the  unique opportunity to purchase Navajo rugs directly from the weavers themselves and prices that are well below retail. The world famous Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction is the premier venue for the purchasing of authentic contemporary Navajo rugs at auction.


The Crownpoint Rug Weavers Association has been auctioning rugs from all over the reservation since 1968. The auction keeps growing in popularity and brings buyers from all over the United States and the world. For additional information the auction phone number is 505-787-7386.
(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in public domain)

A Trip To Fredericksburg Texas

Chester William Nimitz From Fredericksburg Texas

museum fredericksburg texasFredericksburg Texas, in the middle of the beautiful Texas Hill Country, is one of the most popular stops for those on Texas vacations. Fredericksburg TX is a very unique and historic location with excellent restaurants (German fare is a big draw), beautiful and historic bed and breakfast lodgings and is the home of the Admiral Chester Nimitz Pacific War Museum.

Chester William Nimitz was born on 24 February 1885, in Fredericksburg, Texas. Young Chester, while in high school and even though his grandfather was a retired sea captain, decided on a career with the Army. While a student at Tivy High School in Kerrville Texas, Chester tried for an appointment to West Point. Unfortunately no vacancies existed and Nimitz then took a competitive examination for the Naval Academy at Annapolis and was selected.

Chester Nimitz’ appointment to Annapolis in 1901 was from the Twelfth Congressional District of Texas. This was prior to his high school graduation. Chester Nimitz attended Annapolis and graduated the academy in the class of 1905. He graduated seventh in a class of 144.

national museum of the pacific war

Outdoor exhibit at National Museum of the Pacific War

Nimitz moved up through the Naval ranks and held a variety of positions including Commander of Cruiser Division, Commander of Battle Division and in 1939 was appointed as Chief of Bureau Navigation which was to last for four years.

A fast change in command occurred shortly after Pearl harbor. In December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was designated as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, where he served throughout World War Two. On 19 December 1944, he was advanced to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral, and on 2 September 1945, was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Chester Nimitz has been credited with supervising some of the early successes the U.S. enjoyed such as James Doolittle’s raids on Japan via a flight carrier as well as the victories in the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway. At Midway, Japan lost all four of her aircraft carriers engaged in that battle. The Battle of Midway of course is another entire story in itself.

nimitz museum texas

Nimitz World War Two museum

After World War Two

Chester W. Nimitz and his wife eventually moved to Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay, between San Francisco and Oakland and home of the Treasure Island Naval Base. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz passed away at his home on Treasure Island on February 20, 1966 at the age of eighty. He was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at San Bruno California, just south of San Francisco. He was the last surviving five-star admiral.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Touring the Texas Hill Country

The Alamo in San Antonio

The National Ranching Heritage Center / A Texas Treasure

Visit Luling Texas / Railroads, Oil and Watermelons

nimitz hotel fredericksburg texas

Historic Nimitz Hotel in Fredericksburg

Visit the National Museum of the Pacific War

The mission of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg Texas as stated on their website is “dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Pacific Theater of WWII in order that the sacrifices of those who contributed to our victory may never be forgotten“.

The museum chronicles the story of Japan’s rise in military power, the beginning of World War Two in the Pacific and the advance of the Allied military to final victory in 1945. There are also very interesting exhibits regarding the home front and the war’s effect on both Texas and the nation. Many artifacts are on display including newspaper articles, and mementos. There are real guns, tanks, planes and even a submarine exhibit. You’ll see the “live” exhibits where real WWII veterans have recorded their stories for you to listen to, or you can hear a re-enactment of the bridge chatter on a cruiser during battle, or look through a simulated periscope.

nimitz museum memorial

Memoral at the National Museum of the Pacific War

The National Museum of the Pacific War traces the roots of the events leading up to World War Two. The museum really does an excellent job of sharing information about the causes of World War Two as well as the numerous details about the various aspects of the war. There is no other museum like the National Museum of the Pacific War.

Lots of interesting information about the Nimitz family is found which helps you place his accomplishments in context. The museum is quite large and three hours or even more might be set aside for a partial exploration. In  reality, to take full advantage of all the unique exhibits, you might plan on a full day visit and possibly come back again the next day.

It’s very unique to have such a large museum available in a smaller town like Fredericksburg Texas. It’s a real treasure and a must see if you’re touring the scenic Texas Hill Country. The National Museum of the Pacific War is located at 340 E. Main St., Fredericksburg Texas.

Fredericksburg is located about 69 miles northwest of San Antonio and about 77 miles west of Austin.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)