History tour of Tucson

Joyce Shumate

Another great tour by the QC TRIPS Educational committee.

On October 6, a lucky group of 22 residents got to travel to Tucson to learn about the history of Tucson and ride the modern streetcar. We gathered at the Madera Clubhouse to form our car pools and drove to the Mercado, San Agustin Market Place. Inside we meet up with our tour guide, Jim Gressinger, travel writer, photographer and publisher of Southern Arizona Guide.

We all gathered in the courtyard of the Mercado to listen to a very informative presentation by Jim on the history of the Mercado and the local area.

After purchasing our tickets for the streetcar, we road to Church Avenue to start our walking history tour.

Jim provided booklets for everyone to look at that included some of original photos of the locations we were visiting as he spoke about the stories of the past. Some of the locations were the Cathedral, Plaza de la Mesilla, Poncho Villa and the Old Courthouse.

Then we went to the Presidio San Agustin Museum that is a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio built in 1775. Visitors travel back in time to learn about life as an early Tucsonans would have lived. Our docent led tour discusses life in the Presidio for soldiers and other residents. Additional highlights included an original Sonoran row house and a prehistoric pit house.

Continuing on to the Arizona Historical Society’s Tucson History Museum which is about life in early Tucson: This is a small but jam-packed, very worthwhile museum, if you want to understand the history and cultural heritage of the Old Pueblo. Among its many exhibits are the Dillinger exhibit that chronicles the capture of the famous bank robber in Tucson and the Catherine Stinsen exhibit describing the first female Air Mail drop over the city.

We had reservations at Charro Steak Restaurant for lunch with a very diverse menu; everyone was very pleased with their food and service.

After lunch we walked over to the Hotel Congress and the historic Train Depot and saw the restored steam locomotive at the Transportation Museum downtown. Yes, we did climb up into the cab to get a close up view of the inside of the conductor’s area. Some even rang the locomotive bell. This is the original locomotive that was used in the 1955 movie musical Oklahoma. Our tour ended at the Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday statues and Transportation Museum.

We went back to the streetcar to ride it back to the Mercado to get our cars. Some even took the streetcar to the end and back to get the full experience of the streetcar route. At the Mercado the Thursday Farmers Market was going on. Before heading back to Quail Creek we did a little shopping.

If you missed this wonderful trip with Jim Gressinger you can find his website at http://SouthernArizonaGuide.com/tours.