Steam Pump Ranch

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THE FIRST STEAM PUMPS IN ARIZONA – A German emigrant, filled with dreams of becoming a big cattleman, helped solve the problem of a lack of water supply for herds of cattle near Tucson. George Pusch was born in Frankfurt in 1847. After a short stay in New York, he headed west, to Tucson, Arizona. He soon persuaded a young friend from Switzerland, John Zellweger, to join him here. They pooled their resources and in 1874 bought the Steam Pump Ranch on Oracle Road just south of the Canada del Oro crossing.  The partners installed the first steam pumps in the territory, pumping water into holding tanks. Ranchers from all over the Arizona Territory brought their cattle herds either to Tucson or Red Rock for shipment back east, and the Steam Pump Ranch was the spot where cattle were watered down the day before they were loaded onto stock cars. Pusch charged 15 cents a head for watering cattle. Ranchers were paid by the pound as the cattle entered the stock cars for their long journey to distant cities and were more than willing to pay. Pusch and Zellweger also had 15,000 head of cattle branded “PZ.” Attorney Henry Zipf, George Pusch’s grandson, tells that mounted Apaches circled his grandfather’s wagon at the Antelope Plains, northwest of Oracle Junction, as the family traveled from the Steam Pump to their ranch on the San Pedro. By Connie Allen Bacon

Determining Our Destiny: Oro Valley’s Heritage

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We offer a wide variety of events, including lectures, book- signings, film screenings, and festivals. OVHS also offers walking tours of various historical sites including Steam Pump Ranch , and specializes in tours of the Pusch House. In addition, OVHS hosts events in collaboration with other organizations, such as the Oro Valley Public Library and Archaeology Southwest.

Determining Our Destiny: Oro Valley’s Heritage, is a brief documentary of Oro Valley’s history and heritage. Spearheaded by Oro Valley resident and patron of the arts William D. Adler, this project is a collaboration of many individual and organizations. Special thanks to: Jim Kreigh, Pat Spoerl, Paul Loomis, Joyce Rychener, Steve Roseman, Barry Gillaspie, Oro Valley Historical Society and Town of Oro Valley staff Amanda Jacobs and Misti Nowak. Visual and audio production by Randy Metcalf. Narrated by Lisa Anne Glomb. Sound engineering by Shawnmarie Stanton, Stanton & Stanton Studios. Copyright William D. Adler 2014.


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