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Bird Watching in Southern Arizona is popular in Santa Cruz CountyTumacacori-Carmen, Arizona

Tumacacori (pronounced too-mah-COCK-oree) is an historic and interesting place. Tumacácori National Historical Park is a must stop in the Santa Cruz Valley. There are interesting books and information available in the entrance lobby. You are provided with a booklet to borrow that describes the specific sections of the Mission and Church, though you can take a copy home for only a dollar. We highly recommend buying this booklet "In the Footprints of the Past" and taking it home to read. We also recommend watching their 15-minute video about the Mission.

Tumacácori National Historical Park - Tumacacori MissionThis Mission was part of a network of Spanish Missions that extended from Northern Mexico and up into the Upper Santa Cruz Valley. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit ("black robes") missionary, was the first Spanish priest to encounter Tumacácori in 1691. He is responsible for giving the name San Cayetano (Spanish - and the name of the nearby mountains) to the O'odham (commonly known as Pima or Papago) Indian village called Tumacácori. The Mission was named San Cayetano de Tumacácori (when it was on the other side of the river). In 1753, the mission was moved to it's current location and renamed San Jose de Tumacácori.

Father Kino helped introduce wheat, livestock, and fruit trees to the Pima. It is interesting to note that many missions did not always have churches right away, and Tumacacori was no different. It started as a mission in 1691, though did not have a church until one was O'odham Pima Indian Basket - Arizonabuilt in 1757. The ruins of the church you see today were built by the Franciscans (rather than the Jesuits) in the early 1800's, after Father Kino's death. Note that the church was abandoned in 1848, and the roof removed thereafter, possibly for use on other buildings elsewhere. Though the roof was replaced in 1921, 1947, and again in 1978. After it was abandoned, many took refuge at Tumacacori. Did you know General John J. Pershing etched his name in the walls of one of the buildings during the Mexican Revolution, along with cowboys, gold miners, and many others?

We found that walking the grounds of Tumacácori National Historical Park and standing in the church listening to the Gregorian Chant on their speakers was very relaxing. Jesuit Father Phelipe Segessar (1700's Jesuit) documents that the O'odham had a "good ear for music" and could "sing the Gregorian Chant...in unison from beginning to end". Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company in Tumacacori, AZWith the artifacts on display, and the information provided by the Park Service, it helps visualize this rich part of Santa Cruz Valley history.

Driving just south of the Mission down the frontage road you will find the Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company store. Be sure to stop in and get some Santa Cruz "Chile de Ristra" Chili Paste to add that unique flavor to your Southwest and Mexican cooking.

Also, be sure to visit the antique shop and Abe's Old Tumacacori Bar and Restaurant across the street, and Wisdom's Cafe (just north on the frontage road) for one of their World Famous Fruit Burritos.

You will find information on the Annual La Fiesta de Tumacácori on the National Park Service website above.

Families that lived in the area around 1900 described the Tumacacori Cemetary as campo santo "holy ground", though all of the Mission can be described like that today.

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