November Library Display

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If you missed the Romero display at Steam Pump Ranch, there’s still time to catch it at the Oro Valley Public Library.  Francisco Romero and his wife, Victoriana,  were the first non-Native settlers in Oro Valley circa 1869.  Visitors to the exhibit at the Pusch House included ancestors of Romero.  Visit our Facebook page to see the gallery of photos (Oro Valley Historical Society).

The Romeros

When Rocks Are Not “Just” Rocks!

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What a great morning it was for a hike!  How many times have you walked over a pile of rocks and had no knowledge of their history?  Local author and historian, Jim Williams, led a tour of sites in Catalina State Park; Romero Ruins and two other homesteader foundation sites…some of them now just a pile of rocks.

Romero Ruin Hike

On the first part of the hike, Jim gave a history of the Hohokam archeological site and its connection with the Francisco Romero homestead of 1869.  He pointed out the  border wall of the Hohokam village that actually crosses the trail path and the remaining ruins of the Hohokam/Romero buildings. Jim is a wealth of knowledge and gave a broad overview of the history as well as interesting little known details.

Stone border of Hohokam compound

The Hohokam Village


Francisco Romero Homestead

The group then moved to another location of the park that was the 1940 property of Margaret Love.  A teacher at The Arizona Desert School for Boys, Margaret lived in the 600 sq. ft. home and employed local legend, Buster Bailey, as a handyman until he was drafted for the war effort.  There is still evidence of the foundation as well as a trough engraved with her name and dated 1940.

Foundation rocks of Margaret Love home

Photo of Margaret Love home

Trough on property of Margaret Love home
circa 1940








Further along the trail we passed the homestead of Homer Magee.  Homer, a veteran of WWI, was able to get a deed to the property in 1937 in rather quick fashion due to his military service. The homestead included 650 acres.  There is a clearing near the Birding Trail that may have been the location of the home.  A huge tamarisk tree (not native to the area) is also a locator for the homestead site.  Off the beaten track you can see a water trough used during the tenure of Homer’s homestead.  Homer, a machinist by trade, established a machine parts company in Tucson.  After leaving the homestead, Homer and his wife, Mabel, lived in the Tucson area.  Homer died in Tucson in 1982.  And no, Magee Road in not named after this “Magee”.

Tamarisk tree on Magee homestead location

Clearing of one time corral site of Magee homestead

A BIG THANK YOU to Jim Williams for taking the time to lead the hike and to Sue Chambasian for organizing the details.

Stop by the Pusch House in Steam Pump Ranch for exhibits regarding local history and tours given by the Oro Valley Historical Society.  We also have monthly displays at the Oro Valley Public Library.  If you’d like more information regarding the history of homesteading in Oro Valley, be sure to get a copy of Jim Williams book, “Claiming the Desert”.  You can purchase one at the Oro Valley Historical Society booth at Steam Pump Ranch on Saturdays during Farmer’s Market hours.

For other Oro Valley Historical Society events be sure to check our Events calendar at or our Oro Valley Historical Society Facebook event page.


Romero Ruin Hike

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Romero Ruins

Romero History Hike 

Oro Valley Historical Society    

Friday, October 25, 2019

Registration: Contact Sue Chambasian at no later than noon on October 23. Limited to 20 people on a first come, first served basis.  All participants must sign an OVHS waiver at the meeting place on October 25.

Hike: Walk several paths in Catalina State Park and hear about the history of the Francisco Romero family.  He and his descendants resided in this immediate area between 1869 and 1930.  The family had a cattle ranch and orchards in this area.

Leader: Jim Williams has led history hikes and recently researched the Romeros as part of his book, Claiming the Desert.

Time: Meet at 7:30 am at hike starting point

Location: Catalina State Park. Drive through the entrance gate on the main road until you see the sign for “Romero Ruins” on the right side of the road. Park in the lot on the immediate left of the road.

Length of Hike: 3 miles (2-3 hours)   Participants can choose to do the first Romero ruins hike, about 1 mile, and then stop.  Others can go on a further hike to another Romero site for approximately 2 miles.

Elevation gain:  150 feet 

Gear: Wear long pants, hiking boots or athletic shoes, and a hat.  Bring water and sunscreen.

Cost: If you have a state park pass, entrance to the Park is free. If not, a maximum of four people can arrive in one car and pay one $7.00 entrance fee.  Fee for the hike: a suggested donation of $10 per person to the Historical Society, payable when we meet at the parking lot.

Come on down!

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Members, volunteers and interested parties!  We invite you to our Quarterly Information Meeting at 1:00 pm, on Wednesday July 10, 2019 at the Pusch House, Steam Pump Ranch, at 10901 N. Oracle Rd.

As part of the Oro Valley Historical Society we actively work with the Town of Oro Valley to promote research, preservation, education and dissemination of history related to the Greater Oro Valley area.  To that end, we have quarterly informational meetings with several of our docents and other volunteers presenting information about our mission and our presence at Steam Pump Ranch.

We will include tours of the property, including the Heritage Garden that typically features crops that were cultivated by Native Americans in the area, our collection of artifacts, the Pusch House, the Proctor-Lieber House and other property buildings.   We’ll touch on future possible uses of those buildings as part of the Town of Oro Valley Master Plan for Steam Pump Ranch.

If you are a current member, have interest in becoming a member or would like to volunteer put this on your “to do” list!  Hope to see you.

For more information contact:

Carol Bull, OVHS Volunteer Coordinator

Heritage Garden

Ranchin’ Display

Branding demonstration

Summer Fun at SPR

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Summer time and the livin’ is easy and fun!  Several Oro Valley Historical Society members shared their expertise at the ART + STEM = STEAM@STEAM PUMP RANCH OV Parks and Recreation summer camp program.  Thanks to Twink Monrad for sending along pictures of some of the activities and this synopsis of some of the activities.

“Each year my metal detecting buddy Don Morin and I are asked to give the camp kids a demonstration of metal detecting. This year another detecting friend, Randy Blades joined us.  We show the difference in sounds between detecting for meteorites, gold and silver and other jewelry, coins and an Earth Rock which does not make any noise at all.  Then we loan the camp kids metal detectors and pin pointers for a 40 minute hunt for pennies and one dime which we hide just under the dirt in the OVHS garden managed by Joyce Rychener.  The children have a great time finding coins after instruction on the metal detectors.”   Twink Monrad

Summer Library Display

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While you visit the Oro Valley Public Library to pick-up your summer reading, browse our new display.   Continuing the “Celebrate Oro Valley” theme, the OVHS Collection team put together an exhibit of local cattle ranching.  Kudos to Sue Chambasian for coordinating the display with the helping hands of Twink Monrad and Teri Colmar.

    Summer Library Display

Want to join OVHS?  There are brochures at the library display case or contact Carol Bull:

Ranchin’ Library Display

Oro Valley Historical Society
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We don't SPAM. It's not in our nature.