The NCA contains over 250 recorded prehistoric and historic sites and is likely to contain many more.
-- The Clovis Culture, named for a unique type of projectile called a Clovis point, were the first known human occupants in the upper San Pedro River Valley, dating back approximately 11,000 years (9000-6000 B.C.). Stone tools and weapons used to butcher large mammals, such as mammoths and bison, were found with bones of their prey at the Lehner Mammoth Kill Site
and Murray Springs Clovis Site
. Remains of other prehistoric cultures in the NCA include the Archaic people (6000 B.C.-A.D. 1) and Mogollon, Hohokam and northern Mexico components (A.D. 1-1500).
Historic Cultures -- These cultures have been divided into the following three major historic periods:
Spanish Period -- Native American cultures encountered during the Spanish exploration and occupation of the Southwest (1539-1820) were Sobaipuri (part of the Upper Piman, 1430-1769) and Apache (1600-1886). Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a general of the Spanish Army, led an expedition through the San Pedro Valley in 1540 in search of Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold. A Jesuit, Fray Marcos de Niza, possibly the first European to see the Southwest, may have followed a similar route a year earlier. Another Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino, traveled widely to northern Sonora, Mexico, and what is now the southwestern United States between 1680-1711, establishing many visitas and missions. The Presidio (fortified settlement) Santa Cruz de Terranate was established by Spanish troops in 1775 or 1776. It was never completed and was abandoned by 1780 due to continuous Apache raids, which took the lives of more that 80 Spaniards including two commandants.
Mexican Period -- Upon declaring independence from Spain in 1821, Mexicans moved into the upper San Pedro Valley to homestead and take over the large established Spanish cattle ranches. However, as with the Spanish occupation, Apache raids kept the Mexican settlers from prospering. As a result, over 60,000 cattle were roaming wild in the valley by 1851. The Mexican period ended when the area became a United States territory through the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Many Mexican families remained in the area.
-- Anglo settlers from the East moved into the area in the 1850s, reestablishing cattle ranching and farming. This period also saw the rise and fall of road and railroad systems and mining towns. Silver was discovered near Tombstone in 1877, and the valley boomed for over 10 years until the mines flooded, around 1887. The ruins of some mining towns, such as Contention City, Fairbank
, Emery City, Millville, and Charleston
, remain today. Most Apache raiding ended in 1886 with the surrender of Geronimo and his followers. By the turn of the century, large-scale, corporate-financed cattle ranching and farming became the norm, a trend which persisted until BLM acquisition in 1986.
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
4070 South Avenida Saracino
Hereford, AZ 85615
Manager: Melissa Warren
3201 E. Universal Way
Tucson, AZ 85756
Phone: (520) 258-7200