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Tucson, Arizona                                                    city.gif (2383 bytes)

This is Arizona's oldest existing city. The Indian word "tucson" translates into "water at black mountain." Located by the Santa Cruz River, the town has been occupied, originally by Indians, for at least 2000 years. In 1700, Father Kino established the first Spanish Mission, San Xavier, at the Indian village of Bac, 10 miles to the south. The mission can still be visited today. Modern Tucson was founded in 1775 as a Spanish Presidio to protect settlers from the Apache raiding parties. It was then governed by Mexico from 1821 until 1854 when the Gadsden Purchase made the area part of the United States. The town was incorporated in 1877. 1997 population was about 460,000.

Tucson has always seemed to be as a more laid back place than Phoenix. I like to hang out there, but a lot of the snobs in Phoenix claim that the town is stuck in the 1980's.

The military and the University of Arizona are the main engines behind modern Tucson. Defense contractors such as Raytheon Missile Company, AiResearch, Sargent and Burr Brown are here, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is a big part of the town. Tourism is also strong here.

There are some sporting events available there, including PAC-10 and NCAA games from the University of Arizona, Spring Training Camps for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, and LPGA tournaments. The Milwaukee Brewers AAA farm team is the Tucson Toros.

Things to Do:

San Xavier Mission:

Old Tucson Studio: They reopened early last year after an arson fire wiped out almost half of the park. A lot of the original place has burned, but they are trying to be faithful with the replacements. At the same time, I think that they are taking advantage of the opportunity to improve the location to make it more attractive to film production companies. In the past, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Liz Taylor, and Gene Hackman have all acted here. They have live shows every day, rides, food, shopping, a petting zoo, and all kinds of other stuff. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., longer hours in the winter. Cost is $14.95 for adults, $9.50 for kids 4 to 11. Located at 201 South Kinney Road, north west of Town. Call (520) 883-0100 for more info.

Snow Skiing: Mt. Lemmon, in the Catalinas, is actually outside of Tucson, but this is the nearest major town so I thought I would mention it here. People ski here for the convenience of it more than the quality, but better skiing is several hours driving time away, so taking that into consideration: Ski Mt. Lemmon!

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: This ineptly named place is one of the top 10 zoos in the country.

Pima Air Museum: Adjacent to the famous Davis-Monthan A.F.B. "Graveyard" (where hundreds of combat aircraft are mothballed) the Pima Air Museum has all kinds of aircraft on display ranging from a B-17 to a B-52, including an SR-71 Blackbird and more. Really, really cool if you like aircraft. You can go on a walking tour of an aircraft which functioned as Kennedy's Air Force One, and see all manner of displays on the history of American Combat aircraft. Croycroft exit off of I-10. Make a stop at the Tucson Truck Terminal while you are there (see Places to Eat)

Colossal Cave: Well worth the trip, even if you are not into stuff like this. These natural caves were the hideouts of some frontier era criminals, and they seem to run on forever. When I was there, only a minority of the caves were accessible to the public, but my understanding is that they are working on putting more on the tour.

Biosphere 2:  Not really in Tucson, but north east about 15 miles.  Take Oracle road (SR 77) north and follow the signs around mile marker 96.   The Biosphere, as locals call it, was originally a test structure for a facility intended to be built on the moon.  Seven people were shut in for 2 years to try it out. It was intended to be completely self contained, with a lake, an agricultural area, a desert area, a rainforest, and all facets of a balanced world (Biosphere 1 is supposed to be the planet Earth).  The structure did not succeed in its current form, and insects apparently caused a problem.  Now open for tours, there is also a hotel and conference center there, and a pricy restaurant.  I ate in the restaurant 2 years ago and was not impressed, but I have been told that it is better now.  I will let you know when I go back.  Call (800) 828-2462. Open Daily.

Places to Eat:

Tucson Truck Terminal: I include this for only one item on the menu. Their Deep Dish Apple Pie is fabulous, and worth the trip. The rest of the food is pretty typical truck stop fare, I imagine.

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� Copyright 1998 Q87 International & Vincent Davis.  All rights reserved.
Last revised: October 30, 1998