Archaeological Investigations and Data Recovery at Historic Block 83, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona

Editor(s): J. Homer Thiel

Year: 2009


The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Tucson on 20 March 1880, dramatically changed the community. Historic Block 83 was located across the street from the railroad depot and developed rapidly in response to the sudden influx of departing or arriving travelers.

Boarding houses, a hotel, saloons, restaurants, barber shops, a pool hall, a Chinese laundry, and several small stores were among the businesses that catered to these people. The southeastern corner of the block was associated with a small group of Austrian immigrant businessmen, as well as several African-American barbers. Biographical research has provided new information about these groups.

Archaeological excavations uncovered several hundred features dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these included the foundations of structures. More common were features dug into the backyards of the four blocks. Privy pits and wells were common, many providing large samples of trash discarded by businesses. Unfortunately, about half of those located had been looted by bottle hunters in the 1960s and 1970s. A particularly interesting find was the set of planting pits for the trees that once shaded the Depot Beer Garden.

A very large assemblage of artifacts and food remains were recovered. Many items originated in the Cactus Saloon, the Depot Park Hotel (later the Ramona Hotel), and the Quong Wo Chinese-operated laundry. These items provided valuable insights into the history and material culture of saloons and other businesses in Tucson.

Plans to redevelop Lots 8, 9, 12, and 16 led to archaeological testing and data recovery excavations in this area at AZ BB:13:401 (ASM). Several hundred features were revealed and over 100,000 artifacts were recovered. Results of the project are summarized in this report.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Investigations and Data Recovery at Historic Block 83, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, 11. J. Homer Thiel. 2009 ( tDAR id: 448234) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448234

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -110.984; min lat: 32.214 ; max long: -110.957; max lat: 32.237 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Michael W. Diehl; James Heidke; Melissa Markel; J. Homer Thiel; Jennifer A. Waters

Principal Investigator(s): William Doelle

Project Director(s): Homer Thiel

Landowner(s): City of Tucson, Pima County, Arizona

Prepared By(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Submitted To(s): Department of Urban Planning & Design

Record Identifiers

Arizona State Museum Permit(s): 2005-140ps

Project No.(s): 01-1211Y

Accession Number(s): 2005-1119

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tr2006-11_final_OCR_PDFA.pdf 127.45mb Jan 22, 2009 Mar 20, 2019 9:03:43 AM Confidential
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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

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