History of Tubac
Rich in history, Tubac's past included its first settlers from Prehistoric times.
Father Kino, an Italian Jesuit Priest, began the exploration of “New Northern Spain” in 1691. This land is now the state of Arizona, northern Mexico, and part of the great Sonoran high desert. It is home to the only sighting of jaguars in North America.
The Spanish could not have foreseen, the settlement they named Tubac (meaning muddy waters) would become a worldwide destination and world renown artist colony featuring fine art galleries, delectable restaurants, southwest jewelry and specialty shops or a worldwide tourist destination.
Only 20 years after Arizona was admitted as a state in 1914, Dale Nicolos, an American landscape artist came to Tubac to paint. His influence as a painter and illustrator of rural landscape paintings, attracted prominent artists Hal Empie, Hugh Cabot, and others to Tubac. In 1948 Nichols opened an art school and began restoration of the colony.
Before Nicolos, more than 350 years ago, Father Kino arrived in what is now Santa Cruz County with enough seeds, goats, horses, cattle, and soldiers to begin colonization. Father Kino encountered the Tohono O’odham, a friendly hunter-farmer tribe. In 1691 the Spanish built Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi Mission and Fort as a headquarter for the continuing Spanish exploration into New Northern Spain. An Apache attack killed all but two of the fort soldiers and forced the abandonment of Guevavi. Its ruins stand today. The Spanish traveled northwest and established Mission San José de Tumacácori. The mission was never really completed; the Apache later forcing its abandonment.