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About Sahuarita, Arizona

Sahuarita is a city in Pima County, Arizona, USA. It is located on the northern end of the Green Valley, 15 km south of Tucson. Sahuarita is situated on the southern side of The Tohono O’odham Nation. At the 2010 census,the population was 25,259.

History of the Area

Founded in 1911, and incorporated in 1994, Sahuarita was established.

The Hohokam people, the ancestors of today’s Tohono O’odham nation, could be the first known human residents in the Sahuarita region. The Hohokam have been renowned for its highly innovative and comprehensive irrigation use. The Hohokam were very peaceful, had extensive business routes to Mesoamerica and had many cultural influences from their southern neighbours.

The Sobaipuri may be connected to the Hohokam and occupy the southern part of Santa Cruz, with the Pima in the north and the south. Whilst Coronado only passed east of Sahuarita in 1521, it wasn’t before 1691 that Eusebio Kino traveled on the Santa Cruz River that he met the Sobaipuri people’s leaders. Kino was a true leader of the Indians who opposed forced labor by Spanish bosses in mines. Kino was later to start the San Xavier del Bac Mission in 1699, just north of Sahuarita. Francisco Garcés followed the same path in 1775 laying the foundation for Tucson.

In 1775 the Spanish created a fort in the Tucson region, after setting up a number of missions in the region, to control the nearby Native American settlements. Just north of Sahuarita, the region was effectively controlled by Spain. Finally a city came and was called Tucson. The region was controlled by Mexico until they sold the land to the United States as part of the Gadsden Purchase after the Mexican War of Independence in 1821.

In 1854 Sahuarita became part of New Mexico, in the United States of America, after the purchase of Gadsden. In the same year, on behalf of Texas Western Railroad, Andrew B. Gray would travel to the region to conduct a preliminary survey of the region. Elsewhere, the region’s indigenous Peoples were forced onto each other’s territory by American expansionism. In 1857, under pressure and vacation, the Sobaipuri, a buffer between hostile Mexicans to the south and Apache to the north, sank and generally moved to Papago. Between 1861 and 1862, Sahuarita was part of the territory of the Arizona Confederate before it had been captured by the Union and incorporated in the territory of Arizona in 1863. In 1867, Fort Crittenden was created in order to support the creation of American settlements in the Santa Cruz Valley between Sonoita and Patagonia. In 1874, a reserve called San Xavier, now known as the Tohono O’odham Reserve, was created and Native Americans were forcibly transferred.

An Arizona map of 1870 shows an “”Indian Village”” just north of Sahuarita. A German map from 1875, which labels the city “”Sahuarita,”” shows the first known reference to the city. In 1879, the first known American map to list the city was created by the US Interior Department, calling the city “”Saurita.”” The name of the city of Sahuarita is still on successive maps of 1880 and 1890. Finally, a 1925 map of the Arizona and New Mexico ‘Auto Trails’ lists ‘Continental’ in place of the Sahuarita. The road was then an “”enhanced road,”” a step lower than a paved road, which laid the way to the Old Nogales Highway today.

James Kilroy Brown created the Sahuarita Ranch in 1879. Because of the dominance of saguaros in the area, Brown chooses the name Sahuarita. The ranch served as a place to stay between Tucson, Arivaca and Quijotoa. In the area called Sahuarita a small community was established while the railway traveled through the area (which remained until today) and established a station and a post office. While the Texas Western Railway was originally surveyed, it would soon be covered by the Southern Pacific Railroad until the end of the 20th century. Brown sold his ranch in 1886, stagnating the region for three decades.

During this time, the Sahuarita Trade hub, the One Stop Market and the Sahuarita Bar and Grill, were at the intersections of the Sahuarita Road and the Nogales Highway. These remaining intact 130-year-old buildings were demolished in 2013 for road expansion.

View of the Pecan Groves in the background of the Santa Rita Mountains during the monsoons of August (2007).

The Sahuarita Continental Farm plays a central role in the history of the city. In 1915, Bernard Baruch, Joseph Kennedy and J.P. worried about the possibility of a German importation blockade. Morgan founded the farm along the river Santa Cruz with the aim of growing guaia: rubber-producing plants. After World War I, the project was abandoned and sold to Queen Wilhelmina in the Netherlands in 1922. The Queen leased the land to cotton farmers in the following four decades, which would be the primary crop. In 1948, R. Keith Walden moved from California to Arizona, purchasing the Queen’s Continental Farm lands, Farmers Investment Co. (FICO). Walden switched his crop to pacans in 1965, fearing a drop in the demand for cotton as a result of the advent of synthetic fibers. The FICO pecan garden today, with more than 6,000 acres (24 km2) and 106,000 trees, is the world’s largest.

During the Second World War, Sahuarita was home to the Sahuarita Airstrip that was used to train bombers for war service. The Continental Camp was also located in Sahuarita as a labor camp for German prisoners of war. The camp was situated around Continental Ranch, West of the Nogales Highway and the intersection of the Quail Crossing Boulevard. It was founded around November 1944 as one of 21 POW ‘branch’ camps in the whole state. The 250 inmates primarily worked in agriculture and preferred to grow cotton and vegetables. The Germans made more than one escape attempt, all of which failed.

The former Sahuarita Airstrip, in the background of the Santa Rita Mountains (2007).

This is the first time in April 1942 the United States Army Air Corps from Davis–Monthan Air Force Base has used this area of 109,45 km2 for practical bombings. In 1943, the Sahuarita Flight Strip ended with a 5,540-foot (1,690 m) paved runway, which soon stopped bombing. In addition to the airstrip, the site included 12 buildings and four observational towers. Bomber crews operating from Carswell AFB, Texas, resumed bombing in 1950 and lasted until 1962, when the airway strip remained in operation as an emergency landing belt afterwards. The Federal Government released the ground in 1978 to the state of Arizona, which then rented the ground to a livestock rancher. The former airfield was converted into a road leading to the ‘Sahuarita Park,’ and the rest of the land is still used to graze animals.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers continues to identify remaining munitions, prevent environmental contamination and protect a number of endangered species, including jaguars, spotted owls, and others. Various kinds of expended ammunition can be found across the range, most of which are 10 to 20 mm anti-aircraft rounds. The shrapnel from the dropped prescription also litters the range and dozens of ammunitions from crushed olive drabs. Shell casings and magazine clips, together with JATO tanks and large cross targets built of wood for air visibility, can also be found. The crosses were used as objectives for the trained airmen. Many tins of the United States Tobacco Company were found, dismissed by several airmen who occupied the area during their military days. The airstrip is now used as a route to Sahuarita Park and the Edge Charter School, both of which were constructed among the remains of the older buildings of the air force.

The Sahuarita contains the Titan Missile Museum which was constructed during the Cold War in 1963. It is the only publicly accessible Titan Missile site in the world. The actual Titan II missile is still in silo for visitors to see, the most powerful nuclear rocket at standby in the US. The US continued to use the Sahuarita Airstrip. Most of the Cold War Air Force.

Climate

The Sahuarita stands at 828 meters above sea level and is regarded as the local steppe climate. There is little rainfall in Sahuarita throughout the year. The Köppen-Geiger system classifies the climate here as BSh. The average annual temperature in Sahuarita is 19.5°C 67.2°F. The precipitation is 322 mm 12.7 inches per year.

Demographics

At the 2010 census, there were 25,259 people living in Sahuarita and 13,425 households (a 679% increase since 2000). The population density amounted to 841.9 persons per metre. The town’s racial composition was 57,45% non-Hispanic, 2,94% Black or African American, 1.32% Native American, 1.98% Asian, 9,14% other races and 4,21% of two or more races. 31.98% of the Hispanic or Latino population.

In Sahuarita, 29.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 55.54% were between the ages of 18 and 64 and 14.7% were under the age of 65 or older. Sahuarita is 51.2% female and 48.8% male.

School Districts

  • Sahuarita Unified School District