This people-moving wagon, known as an “ambulance,” is on display in the park’s Otero Hall.

Once a year, Smithsonian magazine offers free admission to participating museums and cultural venues to anyone who presents a Museum Day Ticket.

On Saturday, Sept. 18, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park will be one of many venues throughout the United States to offer this freebie. Download a Museum Day ticket at

The Tubac Presidio features 2,000 years of Southwest history brought to life and includes the original 1885 Tubac School House and an authentic 1850s wagon ambulance as two of the historic elements.

The grounds are known as Arizona’s first state park, and visitors can walk the grounds and gardens to view historic landmarks.

Park Director Shannon Stone highlighted the most recent permanent exhibit: “Who is Tubac? I AM TUBAC.”

“Tubac is also a community of regular people with daily struggles and moderate ambitions. I AM TUBAC is an exciting new exhibit that highlights ordinary people that carved out a life in the Santa Cruz Valley,” she said.

“From Chinese-born Luis Lim, Tubac’s first known Asian, to Joseph the O’odham leader of Tubac’s farming community, these people left their names in the history of the village,” Stone said.

Guide handbooks will be loaned to visitors, and there is clear and informative signage throughout the park.

For residents new to the area or anyone who has yet to visit the Tubac Presidio, the site is home to several firsts in Arizona: it was the first fort, the first European settlement, the first American mining community, and the site of the first printing of a newspaper in Arizona.

In addition to the museum and eight varied gardens, the Tubac Presidio is home to four historic buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stone invites the historically curious to the Visitor Center in the teachers’ quarters in the old 1885 schoolhouse. It features an orientation film, exhibits, a gift shop and bookstore.

Otero Hall is home to a restored people-moving wagon called an “ambulance,” which illustrates how a good part of Tubac’s population arrived in the booming 1850s.

“The schoolhouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the second-oldest schoolhouse in Arizona. With original floors and walls, you can sit at the desks and imagine yourself learning math in a one-room school,” Stone said.

Her challenge: “Take the 1895 eighth-grade final exam to see if you can pass!”

Also, from 2 to 3 p.m., entomologist Joe Cicero will present a slide and video show in the schoolhouse featuring 15 types of fireflies and five types of glowworms known to occur in Arizona.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is at 1 Burruel Street, at the eastern end of Tubac Road. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information at or (520) 398-2252.

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