The Rio Rico Historical Society’s fall bus tour, set for Saturday, Nov. 9, will visit seven historic places in Rio Rico, including one not previously visited during the society’s twice-yearly tours.
Tour director Larry Brown will share the history of the area, starting with prehistoric Rio Rico and continuing to the Wild West town that begun to grow in 1865 and the five-star Hotel Santa Rita that was built in 1881. He’ll discuss the importance of the railroad to Rio Rico’s history and how modern Rio Rico emerged 50 years ago.
The first stop is the San Cayetano Calabazas Mission, established in 1755. It’s only accessible to visitors accompanied by a ranger from Tumacácori National Historical Park, so a ranger will join the tour participants and share the history of the area.
The second stop – and lunch location – is the historic Hacienda Corona de Guevavi, originally part of the old Wingfield ranch and now a bed and breakfast. The owners will lead small groups through the hacienda’s historic rooms. The interior courtyard walls feature murals painted by the Mexican muralist and bullfighter Salvador Corona in 1942 and 1955.
Then, the tour will make two brief stops at locations where the Rio Rico Historical Society has erected historic monuments: The Calabasas Town Site, where a monument unveiled in 2017 commemorates the precursor of current Rio Rico, and the site of the 50th Anniversary Rio Rico Historic Monument, erected last May to celebrate 50 years since modern Rio Rico was established.
Next comes a stop at the Rio Rico History Museum in the Rio Rico Shopping Center.
When the tour arrives at a spot with characteristic local geology, Chris Novak, retired geologist and historical society vice-president, will explain the unique geology of Rio Rico and the evolution of the Santa Rita Mountains.
The new addition to the tour is a visit to the newly restored and opened Historic Valle Verde Ranch in Tubac. The ranch, nestled on six acres bordering the historic Anza Trail, was constructed in 1936 of adobe in the old hacienda style. It’s recognized by the Tucson Audubon Society as a top birding location.
The tour wraps up with visit to Rancho Santa Cruz, the Tumacacori ranch built in the 1920s that was recently restored as a bed and breakfast. Tour participants can enjoy the grounds, pool, and old hacienda and dude-ranch rooms, then partake of refreshments at the John Wayne Bar and Saloon.
The tour starts (9:30 a.m.) and ends (5 p.m.) at the Rio Rico Community Center, 391 Avenida Coatimundi. The cost is $40 for historical society members and $45 for non-members. Lunch is included in the price.
(From a news release submitted by Helen Serras-Herman, president of the Rio Rico Historical Society.)