An Archaeological Survey of the Santa Cruz River Valley from the Headwaters to the Town of Tubac in Arizona

Author(s): Edward Bridge Danson

Year: 1941


The Santa Cruz River is located in south-central Arizona in the Santa Cruz and Pima Counties. A short stretch of the rivers lies in northern Sonora and forms a big horseshoe bend as the river cuts across the foot of the Patagonia Mountains from the San Rafael Valley into the Santa Cruz Valley proper.

In the San Rafael Valley, where the headwaters of the river are found, the Santa Cruz passes few towns or villages. The first one is Lochiel, a small cluster of houses on the International border, then Zorillo, which is a Mexican village. The Pueblo of Santa Cruz, approximately eight miles due south of the border, is the largest town in the San Rafael Valley, and the only town of any size that is on the river in Mexico. Then, in turn, the river passes Cienega, El Cajon, San Lazaro, Martinez, Puerta, Santa Barbara, and Marcarenas, all of which are ranches, except for the small collection of houses at El Cajon. After crossing the border the river flows through ranch land, passing no towns until it reaches the ruined village of Calabasas. The next town is Tubac, and from there it goes north by the villages of Amado and Continental and then by the present city of Tucson. From there the Valley turns northwest and eventually joins the Gila River.

Today the Santa Cruz Valley supports a large number of ranches, both cattle and agricultural. Many ranches have been acquired in the past twenty years by eastern visitors, who come west each winter to enjoy the equitable climate. Today the main business of the Santa Cruz Valley is catering to winter visitors, and there is a growing number of "dude ranches" in the valley. Due to its higher elevation and more unaccessible location, the Upper Santa Cruz River, in the San Rafael Valley, is primarily a cattle raising area. The average growing season in the San Rafael is 185 days, in comparison with 221 days in the Santa Cruz Valley itself.

The river is divided into two definite areas, on in the San Rafael Valley and the other in the Santa Cruz. In making the survey and in analyzing the collections, the writer has been interested in noting any local variations. For many years archaeologists have wondered at the apparent diversity of culture on either side of what is now the international border. The lack of Trincheras sites north of the border is a good example.

The survey was started in early summer, at the headwaters of the river, and continued down stream until reaching the town of Tubac, which lies approximately 30 miles east of the headwaters of the Santa Cruz. It was completed in October, 1941, when the author left to join the Navy. The survey was made on both sides of the river, on foot, on horseback, and by car, and the land surveyed, although for the most part lying directly on either side of the river, ran back in some places into the mountains, and followed a few tributary streams for some distance.

The two types of sites were omitted from the survey: Trincheras sites, which have been reported in the area by Sauer and Brand, and Early Man sites.

Cite this Record

An Archaeological Survey of the Santa Cruz River Valley from the Headwaters to the Town of Tubac in Arizona. Edward Bridge Danson. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 1941 ( tDAR id: 399309) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81N82Z4

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Anglo-American Apache Euroamerican Franciscan Historic Hohokam Mexican Mogollon Papago Pima Salado Sobaipuri Soba y Puri Spanish Trincheras

Acoma Black-on-Whiteware Adobe Altar Polychrome Ware Black-on-Whiteware Brick Brown-on-Yellowware Brownware Buffware Building Materials Canelo Brown-on-Yellowware Cement Ceramic China English Staffordshire Ware Field Stone Fire Cracked Rock Firepit? Gila Butte Red-on-Buffware Glass Iron Majolica Pewter Plainware Polychrome Ware Purple-on-Redware Red-on-Brownware Red-on-Buffware Redware Rillito-Rincon Red-on-Brownware San Cayetano Mountains Santa Cruz Polychrome Ware Sells Redware Stone Tanque Verde Red-on-Brownware Tin Trincheras Polychrome Ware Trincheras Purple-on-Redware Wattle Whiteware Yellowware Show More

Site Name
Ariz. DD:8:1 Ariz. DD:8:11 Ariz. DD:8:15 Ariz. DD:8:2 Ariz. DD:8:25 Ariz. DD:8:27 Ariz. DD:8:28 Ariz. DD:8:3 Ariz. DD:8:31 Ariz. DD:8:34 Ariz. DD:8:35 Ariz. DD:8:36 Ariz. DD:8:37 Ariz. DD:8:38 Ariz. DD:8:39 Ariz. DD:8:40 Ariz. DD:8:41 Ariz. DD:8:42 Ariz. DD:8:43 Ariz. EE:10:12 Ariz. EE:10:13 Ariz. EE:10:14 Ariz. EE:10:15 Ariz. EE:10:22 Ariz. EE:10:23 Ariz. EE:10:27 Ariz. EE:10:29 Ariz. EE:10:31 Ariz. EE:10:34 Ariz. EE:10:36 Ariz. EE:10:6 Ariz. EE:10:8 Ariz. EE:12:5 Ariz. EE:13:2 Ariz. EE:14:11 Ariz. EE:14:12 Ariz. EE:14:14 Ariz. EE:14:8 Ariz. EE:14:9 Ariz. EE:8:10 Ariz. EE:8:19 Ariz. EE:8:23 Ariz. EE:8:34 Ariz. EE:9:1 Ariz. EE:9:12 Ariz. EE:9:2 Ariz. EE:9:24 Ariz. EE:9:28 Ariz. EE:9:3 Ariz. EE:9:31 Ariz. EE:9:33 Ariz. EE:9:34 Ariz. EE:9:36 Ariz. EE:9:37 Ariz. EE:9:4 Ariz. EE:9:44 Ariz. EE:9:46 Ariz. EE:9:47 Ariz. EE:9:48 Ariz. EE:9:49 Ariz. EE:9:5 Ariz. EE:9:6 Ariz. EE:9:8 Ariz. EE 10:25 Calabasas El Toreon Presidio of Tubac Quevavi San Lazaro Tumacacori Show More

Site Type
Adobe Ruin Adobe Structure Agricultural or Herding Archaeological Feature Artifact Scatter Bedrock Grinding Feature Bedrock Mortar Boulder Mortar Burial Burnt Rock Mound Cave Church Church / Religious Structure Communal / Public Structure Compound Depression Ditch Domestic Structure or Architectural Complex Domestic Structures Encampment Foundation Funerary and Burial Structures or Features Garrison? Hearth Historic Church / Religious Structure Historic Communal / Public Structure Historic Structure House House Outline House Ring Midden Military Structure Milling Feature Mission Mound Non-Domestic Structures Petroglyph Pictograph Pit Pit House Pit House / Earth Lodge Post Office Presidio Ranch Resource Extraction / Production / Transportation Structure or Features Rock Art Rock Shelter Rock Wall Room Block / Compound / Pueblo Ruin School Settlements Sherd Scatter Stone Foundation Stone House Outline Stone Ruin Structure Terrace Town Town / City Trash Midden Visita Wall Wattle & Daub (Jacal) Structure Wattle House Show More

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.112; min lat: 31.58 ; max long: -110.993; max lat: 31.672 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Arizona State Parks

Contributor(s): Louis R. Caywood; Brigham Arnold

Prepared By(s): University of Arizona

File Information

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