Loop History

Courthouse dome

A trail through time

Exploring history along The Chuck Huckelberry Loop

A trip along the Loop and nearby neighborhoods and communities offers a fascinating look at dozens of historical points of interest here in Pima County. From the iconic Pima County Courthouse near the Santa Cruz River to the site of ancestral homes of Native Americans at the confluence of the Rillito River and Pantano Wash, users will find cultural and historic points of interest on whatever path they choose.

Download a PDF of the Loop History Map.

To help you explore the history along The Loop, click on the arrow for each river park to expand. Click the "read more" link for additional information and a larger image (where available) of each site.

Rillito River Park

Rillito Downs

Rillito Racetrack Historic District - 1

Year built/established: 1940-64
The Rillito Race Track, first opened in 1943, is the birthplace of modern Quarter Horse racing and continues as a venue for both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing. Originating on the Jelks Ranch in a natural desert clearing between the Rillito River and the Catalina ... (read more)

Photo to come

St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church - 2

Year built/established: 1936-1957
Associated with prominent Tucson developers John and Helen Murphey, many people believe that St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church with its subsequent additions and cloister gardens is the most recognized example of Josias Joesler's storied 40-year career. It is considered ... (read more)

Binghampton landscape

Binghampton Rural Historic Landscape - 3

Period of Significance: 1898-1953
The Binghampton Rural Historic District is significant in Tucson history as the first Mormon agrarian settlement, founded in 1898 on the floodplain north and south of the Rillito River. Over two decades, Mormon settlers transformed the land into a patchwork of irrigated crop, ... (read more

San Pedro Chapel

San Pedro Chapel - 4

Architect/Style/Site function: Community built / Mission Revival (New Spain)
This one-story adobe building was built by the Mexican residents of the village of El Fuerte. Residents made adobe bricks on site and a depression east of the chapel still exists marking this activity. The chapel was rehabilitated using Pima County Historic Preservation ... (read more)

Hardy site

Prehistoric Residential - Hardy Site - 5

Architect/Style/Site function: Village
Over 1,000 years ago villagers here depended on the fertile soils and abundant water this confluence offered. They harvested wild grasses and other seed-bearing plants, deer, and cottontail rabbits. They dug irrigation canals to bring water from the rivers to their corn (maize) ... (read more) 

Ditches Flume sign

Ditches/Flume - Historic Use of Pantano Wash and the Rillito River - 6

Architect/Style/Site function: Industry
Underground rock formations once forced groundwater to the surface where Tanque Verde Creek and Pantano Wash join the Rillito River. Historically, ditches and flumes were dug to move this water far distances. ... (read more

Pantano River Park

Fort Lowell Museum

Fort Lowell Historic District - 7

Acres: 46.53; Period of Significance: 300-1400 / 1873-1952
Description: Located at the confluence of Pantano Wash and Tanque Verde Creek, where the Rillito River forms, is Fort Lowell Park. Where the pithouse villages of ancestral Native Americans stood, t he United States Army built a supply base between 1873 and 1891 during ... (read more)

Indian Ridge Neighborhood

Indian Ridge Neighborhood Historic District - 8

Acres: 190.70; Listed on National Register: 7/6/2010; 
Period of Significance: 1955-1964
Description: The Indian Ridge Historic District -- a mid-twentieth century automobile-oriented, planned residential neighborhood with limited entry points, intended for the middle-class ... (read more)

Julian Wash

Esmond train wreck

Esmond Station - 9

Year Built/Established: Approx. 1880; Architect/Style/Function: Representative of Tucson's railroad history
Description: Originally named Papago Station, Esmond Station was  Southern Pacific rail line stop. The station gained notoriety when, in 1903 a deadly head-on train collision caused derailment ... (read more)

Pima Air & Space Museum

Pima Air and Space Museum - 10

Description: In 1966, while celebrating the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, members of what is now the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group lamented the loss of America’s aviation heritage as they watched historic World War II and 1950s-era aircraft taken from storage and fed into smelters. Base officials began ... (read more)

Santa Cruz River Park

San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac - 11

Year Built/Established: 1797
Architect/Style/Function: Baroque design constructed with desert materials
Description: Mission San Xavier del Bac has served the Tohono O’odham Nation since it was founded in 1700 by the Jesuit Eusebio Francisco Kino. The present church is the third, perhaps the fourth, ... (read more)

Photo to come

Water is Life - Hohokam and Historic Use of the Santa Cruz River - 12

Period of Significance: 10000 B.C.-Today
It is said that you can never step into the same river twice. Archaeological and geological studies conducted here, ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Paseo de las Iglesias - Human Use of the Santa the Cruz River - 13

Year Built/Established: 350-Early 1900s
Description: For more than 4,000 years the Santa Cruz and its floodplain have been the heart of the social and economic landscape of the Tucson Basin, providing precious water in an arid desert region. ... (read more)

Julian Wash Arch. Park

Julian Wash Archaeological Park - 14

Year Built/Established: 800 B.C.-Early 1900s
Description: Description: Julian Wash Archaeological Park marks the location of past lifeways focused on engineering the Santa Cruz River to water ancient crops and sustain life over 4,000 years ago. It was also the site of St Luke's Orphanage. Today the park features ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Santa Cruz Catholic Church - 15

Description: Santa Cruz Church is expressive of the broad pattern of our nation's history in being a product of the Hispanic tradition, which preceded Anglo-American presence in the southwest by 150 years. It is significant for its construction using unstabilized mud-adobe bricks. It is the largest (known and extant) mud-adobe building ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Armory Park Historic District - 16

Period of Significance: 1860s-1945
Description: Armory Park was surveyed as a part of the 1872 town plan, however, this neighborhood’s architecture illustrates the transition in styles following the arrival of the Southern Pacific railroad in Tucson in 1880. From 1880 until approximately 1920, Armory Park’s ... (read more)

Historic barrios

Historic Barrios - 17

Year Built/Established: Mid-1800s-Mid-1900s
Description: (Barrio Anita, El Hoyo, Libre, Santa Rosa, El Membrillo: While the barrios were historically working-class Mexican neighborhoods, a diversity of other ethnic backgrounds including Chinese, African American, Anglo, and Native Americans called the barrios ... (read more)

Mission Garden

Birthplace of Tucson/Mission Garden - 18

Description: The current function of the Mission Garden helps to tell Tucson’s origin story and about our Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and American Territorial past and traditions that remain a part of this region’s vitality. Erected above an ancestral Native American site that holds the remains of North America's first known cultivated corn, this area has been continuously occupied for thousands of years. The diverse ... (read more)

Sentinel Peak

Sentinel Peak - 19

Description: The “Birthplace of Tucson” is the site of Tucson’s origins, located at the base of Sentinel Peak and west of the Santa Cruz River.  Here, people have lived for more than 4,000 years where some of the earliest agriculture in North America has been documented.  It is also the site of the O’odham village of “Stjuckshon” that was encountered by Fr. Kino in the 1690s, who named it “San Cosme del Tucson,” giving our ... (read more)

Tumamoc Hill

Tumamoc Hill/Desert Laboratory - 20

Description: Tumamoc Hill or Chemamagi Do’ag, a Tohono O'odham place name meaning Hill of the Horned Lizard, has attracted humans for over two thousand years. Since the early 1900s, this area has been recognized for its value related to science, art and invention. In 1903 the Desert Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution opened on Tumamoc Hill, ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Menlo Park Historic District - 21

Description: The Menlo Park Historic District, built at the base of the mountain slopes below Tumamoc Hill and Sentinel Peak, is located atop the oldest continuously settled area in Tucson; an ancestral Native American village where corn was first cultivated. Thousands of years later, the area developed as a Euro-American enclave in the ... (read more)

Dunbar dance class

Paul Laurence Dunbar School - 46

Description: The John Spring Neighborhood Historic District—visually unified by a street grid—is characterized by three regions, the: (a) original settlement (c. 1900) with zero lot-line Sonoran adobe rowhouses, Queen Anne buildings, and two Gothic Revival churches; (b) church-and-school square (1913 and 1918) with a Mission Revival church ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Pascua Cultural Plaza - 47

Description: Since 1921, when Pascua Village was officially established on what was then the northern outskirts of Tucson, the plaza, capilla, fiesta ramada, and kitchen have together been the focus of Yoeme traditional religious, cultural, and social events. The plaza is significant for its association with the traditional cultural practices ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

USDA Tucson Plant Materials Center - 48

Year Built/Established:1934
Description: Following environmental devastation known as the Dust Bowl which stemmed from overgrazing and unsustainable farming techniques, the mission of the TPMC was to collect quantities of propagation materials (i.e. seeds, cutting, plants) to use on the Gila, Rio Grande, ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Prehistoric Residential - Life on the Floodplain - 49

Description: Hohokam communities of the Tucson Basin were ancestors of contemporary southern desert populations, such as the O’odham, as well as Pueblo populations and perhaps other populations in northern Mexico. Early Hohokam settlements consist of clusters of shallow pithouses. Archaeologists find these dwellings in sets of three or four  ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Early Agricultural Period - Archaic Farmers near Tres Rios and Las Capas - 50

Description: The site of Las Capas, dating back to 1250-750 B.C. is located at the confluence of the Santa Cruz and Rillito rivers, and Canyon del Oro wash. It comprises several layers of deeply buried archaeological remains, of which, the most significant archaeological findings... (read more)

Los Morteros

Los Morteros Conservation Park - 51

Description: Named for its bedrock mortars, where mesquite was once milled by the ancestors of present-day Native American Tribes, Los Morteros was settled near reliable water over 1,000 years ago. Villagers were artisans and farmers who built a communal plaza, irrigation system and an oval ball court, interacting with neighboring villages ... (read more)

Downtown Area

Big Boy train

El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Depot - 22

Description: Built in 1912 as a depot for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. This building exemplifies the opulence of the Neo-Classical architectural style highlighting this period of economic growth in Tucson. The neo-classical style is illustrated with four large columns made from Indiana limestone. This short lived depot (1912-1924) was constructed for the sole use ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Sosa Carrillo Fremont House - 23

Description: This building was preserved during the urban renewal projects of the 1960s that razed a large portion of the original barrios in this area. It is a fine example of the Spanish and Mexican heritage and stands as an example of architecture that was once common to the Tucson townscape ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

La Plaza de la Mesilla - 24

Year Built/Established: 1860s-1960s
Description: This location serves Tucsonans as a social gathering space and event center, although its architectural characteristics and surrounding landscape have changed greatly through time. Vestiges of the original plaza remain today near the gazebo, however, in the late ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Old Adobe Patio/C.O. Brown House - 25

Description: During the Territorial and early American period following arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad, there was time for practical Mexican building traditions to merge with Anglo styled ornamentations from which a distinctive transitional style emerged. This building represents one of a small number of transitional building forms that have survived in Tucson. ... (read more)

Marist College

Marist College - 26

Period of Significance: 1915-1967
Description: The Marist College Historic District—built within the St. Augustine’s Cathedral complex—includes Marist College, Our Lady’s Chapel, and Cathedral Parish Hall. The former school, built in 1915 and rehabilitated in 2018, is the only surviving three-story adobe building in Arizona and served ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Julian-Drew Building - 27

Year Built/Established: 1917
Description: When constructed, this building was one of the first of its kind—an automobile dealership that provided an indoor display showroom. Its lower floor offered large picture windows for the display of the most recent automobile models available to the citizens of Tucson ... (read more)

Rialto Theater

Rialto Theater and Building - 28

Year Built/Established: 1919
Description: The original 1,240 seat showhouse, which opened in late August of 1920, was strategically located at the far east end of Congress Street, Tucson's "Main Street." One of the finest theaters in the West, the Rialto was equipped to show full-scale opera and live vaudeville acts as well as film. An irreplaceable part of Tucson's community ... (read more)

Hotel Congress

Hotel Congress - 29

Year Built/Established:1919
Description: On January 22, 1934, a fire destroyed the third story of the building, housing twenty rooms, that was never rebuilt. During the fire four men had to be rescued from the third floor. These guests insisted that firemen return to the burning building to retrieve their expensive luggage. Several days later a photo in True Detective magazine ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Southern Pacific Passenger Depot - 30

Year Built/Established: 1907
Description: Built in 1907 to replace the original wooden building, this train depot  experienced several additions in subsequent years. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived to Tucson in 1880 bringing with it promises progress and modernity. This was largely unmet as Tucson struggled economically for at least two decades following the .. (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Arizona Hotel - 31

Year Built/Established: 1917
Description: The history of Arizona Hotel is obscure. A bargain and sale deed, dated 1914, granted the land on which the Arizona Hotel now occupies to Luke G. Radulovich. Radulovich, referred to in the city directories of that time as a "capitalist", is more ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

J.C. Penney-Chicago Store - 32

Description: The period of this building's significance begins with the date of its construction in 1903 as general-use, two-part commercial block that would serve Tucson’s central business district. The building is named for its recognizable tenants including the longest of these tenants, J.C. Penney, whose operations took place here from 1927 to 1957. Rehabilitations in the form of a façade improvement have been done in recent ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

First Hittinger Block - 33

Description: In 2003 the original façade of this building (118-122 E. Congress Street) was unveiled during a historic rehabilitation project. Hidden for many years behind a stucco sheath that masked the entire Italianate-style, second-story brick façade, the history of this building’s operation and use includes a number of owners and tenants. Especially noteworthy was the early twentieth-century ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Rebeil Block - 34

Description: The Rebeil Block is a two-part commercial block which occupies a prominent location on the southwest comer of Congress and Scott. Its principal tenant for many years was the Indian Village Trading Post. In many respects, the commercial block represents the typical "Man Street" downtown building and further tells the ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

U.S. Post Office and Courthouse - 35

Description: The final construction of this building in 1930 represents Tucson's part of an extensive federal building program initiated in the late 1920s by the Hoover administration – the forerunner to Roosevelt's Public Works Administration. As the first federal building erected in the city, it was a source of pride for Tucson and a locally prominent ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Valley National Bank Building - 36

Description: For more than 4,000 years the Santa Cruz and its floodplain have been the heart of the social and economic landscape of the Tucson Basin, providing precious water in an arid desert region, in an arid desert region, in an arid desert region, in an arid desert region, ... (read more)

Fox Theater

Fox Theater and Commercial Building - 37

Description: The 1,300 seat Fox Theatre opened in 1930 being strategically located on Congress Street near Stone Avenue, historically the "epicenter" of downtown Tucson. It represents an irreplaceable part of Tucson's community heritage and is significant for its association with the theme of theater and entertainment in the central business district. The building, especially with respect to its interior appointments, is ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Arizona Daily Star Building - 38

Description: This building may be the only remaining commercial building of that vintage in the downtown area. For more than three decades the building housed the offices and presses of the Arizona Daily Star, one of the early newspapers (still in publication today) printed in the rapidly-growing community at that time. Having practiced first in the San Francisco area where the Italianate style from the East was flourishing ... (read more)

Courthouse dome

Pima County Courthouse - 39

Description: Built in 1929 by prominent local architect Roy Place, the iconic Pima County Courthouse is perhaps the most outstanding Spanish Colonial Revival building in Arizona and features a brilliantly colored tile mosaic on the roof of the central dome. The 1929 Courthouse replaced the 1881 County Courthouse building, and operated until 2015 when Justice Court and other services were moved into the Pima County ... (read more)

El Presidio Museum

El Presidio Museum - 40

Description: The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum is a modern reconstruction/simulation of the Tucson Presidio which was originally built in 1775. Docent tours discuss life in the Santa Cruz Valley for early Native Americans, Presidio residents and soldiers and Territorial period settlers.  The archaeological remains of a pit house are available for viewing and entry to the museum has visitors walk along the ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Levi H. Manning House - 41

Description: The imposing Levi H. Manning House stands on 10.3 acres at the southwestern corner of the El Presidio District on the quiet curve of Paseo Redondo. The home was built in 1907-08 by Levi Howell Manning, prominent Tucson civic leader and entrepreneur. The original layout included a rectangular 10-room main house connected by ... (read more)

Old Main

University of Arizona Campus Historic District - 42

Period of Significance: 1885-1938
Description: The University of Arizona Campus Historic District boasts a number of exquisite buildings featuring symmetry, rhythm, composition, scale, and environment in styles of Territorial Victorian, Queen Anne, and revivalist (Classical, Renaissance, Italian, and Spanish ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Catalina American Baptist Church - 43

Description: The primary character-defining feature of the Catalina American Baptist Church sanctuary is a thin-shell concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof—a roof form associated with national and international trends of the Modernist period. Floor-to-ceiling glass window walls enclose the space on four sides, along with exposed aggregate ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Professor George E.P. Smith House - 44

Description: This house is historically significant as the residence of Professor George Smith, a University of Arizona civil engineering professor and geologist whose work with underground water supplies and desert irrigation techniques played a key role in facilitating agricultural expansion in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.  ... (read more)

Paseo de las Iglesias

Dr. William Austin Cannon House - 45

Description: The Cannon/Douglass House, built for William A. Cannon in 1906, is significant for its historic associations with two notable Arizona scientists, William A. Cannon and Andrew E. Douglass s both University of Arizona professors with national reputations for their scientific achievements -- Cannon for his research in desert ecology and Douglass as the founder of dendrochronology. The Cannon/Douglass ... (read more)

Cañada del Oro River Park

Steam Pump Ranch

Steam Pump Ranch - 52

Description: Steam Pump Ranch houses the remains of an 1870s blacksmith shop and adobe building once protecting a prized groundwater pump driven by steam power; it's water used to fatten cattle for railroad shipping and raise chickens for eggs that would supply the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson. This place played a key role in the burgeoning ranching and food production ... (read more

Honey Bee Conservation Park

Honey Bee Village Conservation Park - 53

Description: An ancestral Native American site, Honey Bee Village over looks the Santa Catalinas Mountains to the east and Pusch Ridge. Here a thriving community subsisted for several generations. Residents farmed, wove fiber, built their houses with timbers and dried mud, and even adorned their clothing with shell jewelry ... (read more)

Catalina State Park

Romero Ruin/Catalina State Park - 54

Description: One of several large Hohokam villages in the Tucson Basin, the Romero Ruin is the largest archaeological site in Catalina State Park. Decorated pottery found at the site suggests the Hohokam lived at this settlement continuously for 1,000 years. Four centuries after the Hohokam left this place, Francisco and Victoriana Romero made this site their home. They built several ... (read more)
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The Chuck Huckelberry Loop

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Tucson, AZ 85741
(520) 724-5000

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(520) 724-4600

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