Sunrise at Tumacacori

Robert Thoresen

Only for a few select days during the year does the National Park Service open the Tumacacori National Historical Park before sunrise to benefit photographers and artists. After completing at least four lessons and constant reminders from the PCQC’s video lesson guru Joel Santore, fourteen members were at the mission’s door at 6:30 a.m. on March 5 to practice their newly learned techniques of using the best ambient light. The results appear with the article.

Tumacacori has a long but inconsistent history of settlement. Spanish colonists made initial contact with the O’odham settlement of Tumacacori in 1691 and a Jesuit mission was created immediately. The first mission was built on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River. Priests were dispatched from the Guevavi Mission, 15 miles upriver, from 1701 to 1751 for periodic services, but during that 50 year span priests were not permanently living at the mission. After Indian attacks in 1751 the presidio was built in Tubac and the Tumacacori mission was moved across the river to the west bank of the Santa Cruz River. The mounting power of the Jesuit order ultimately resulted in King Charles III of Spain banishing them from all New Spain missions in 1767-68. The Franciscans didn’t get to the ultimate construction of the present church until 1800. Not having the fanaticism of getting things completed as did the Jesuits, the Franciscans never did complete construction; the bell tower was never completed. After a series of Apache raids and a very harsh winter in 1848, mission and town were abandoned.

In 1908, 10 acres of mission grounds were legislated as a national monument and in 1918 the area was cleaned up and the church foundation was stabilized. The visitor’s center and museum date to 1937. The site became a National Historical Park in 1990 and an additional 310 acres surrounding the original 10 acres were added in 2002. Since 1918 $20,000,000 has been spent on the preservation and upkeep of the ruins.

Club tradition continued with a hardy breakfast served up at Amado’s Cow Palace. Specialties include eggs benedict and potato pancakes for $8 to $9. There is a broad selection of omelets at $8. There is a .99 cent beer promotion for golfers who come in with that day’s completed scorecard (hope it isn’t Budweiser). It is a solid competitor to the Arizona Family Restaurant. According to David G. of Green Valley on his visit of 1/27/2014, “I love to eat at the Cow Palace! The staff is very friendly and the service is great. My favorite meal is the breakfast.” I don’t know if David G was there on 3/5/2014 but PCQC members found it a great spot for breakfast.

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