Quarterly Newsletter

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Newsletter February 2021

Save the Date!

The OVHS annual meeting will take place on Thursday, March 25 at 2:00 p.m. Assuming that COVID protocols will still be in place, the meeting will be outdoors at Steam Pump Ranch. Check the OVHS Facebook page or website (ovhistory.org) for the exact meeting location at the ranch as the date approaches. We will also send an email update in mid-March. At the last Membership Meeting, the Board discussed bylaws changes. These changes will be voted upon on March 25. We will send the proposed changes via email prior to the meeting date to give you another opportunity to review. Your proxy vote may be submitted via email due to current conditions and COVID concerns.

Did You Know…?

1. OVHS will have featured articles on the Let Oro Valley Excel (LOVE) blog http://letorovalleyexcel.blogspot.com. We hope to

communicate Oro Valley’s rich history, stories, and personalities to our residents. You can also find the articles on our

website: ovhistory.org and Facebook page (Oro Valley Historical Society).

  1. Your membership supports the ongoing programs of OVHS. This includes our displays, exhibits, and collections preservation. Not a member? It’s easy to join or donate on our website: ovhistory.org. The Oro Valley Historical Society is a wholly volunteer, self- sustaining 501 (c) (3) and your membership is even tax-deductible! You can help keep Oro Valley history alive!
  2. You can be a volunteer! Do you have a few extra hours on your hands? We are seeking docents, hosts, tech support, administration assistants and other hands on help. Contact Teri Colmar (tcolmar@comcast.net).

We can’t learn from history once it’s gone. Let the future know that Oro Valley has a long, rich and vibrant history. Many thanks for your continued support!

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Visit www.orovalleyhistory.org for more Information!


A New Arrival!

OVHS President Henry Zipf came across this piece of history while working on a project in Tucson. It was about to be disposed of when he brought it to the attention of OVHS! While we have no history of its use at the Copper Queen mine, we do know that the Herring-Hall-Marvin Company was a consolidation of several safe companies that had a 100,000 square foot factory

in Hamilton, Ohio in 1896. “The city of Hamilton was once known as the “Safe Capital of the World”. In addition to safe building, Herring-Hall-Marvin was a contractor for the armed services. During World War II they built gun mounts and were engaged in projects related to the atomic bomb. Several other transitions of the safe company ownership transpired through the years. In 2001, the last owner, Mosler, Inc., filed for bankruptcy.” (Cite: Historical Collection at the Lane.)

OVHS can certainly attest to the fine reputation of the safe builder! It was an all-day project moving the VERY heavy safe into our storage office in the Tack Room at Steam Pump Ranch. We plan to use the safe to house selected items in the OVHS collection.


A new acquisition!




Walk Around the Ranch

The Oro Valley Historical Society is presenting docent-guided tours of the Historic Steam Pump Ranch property on the second and fourth Saturdays in February, March and April. Find out what makes Steam Pump Ranch stand out in local history and earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tours leave on the hour and every fifteen minutes thereafter, between 10 a.m. and Noon (the last tour). Tours are about 50 minutes. COVID protocols are observed. Each tour is limited to 6 participants. First come first serve…no reservations. Check in at the south end of the Farmer’s Market ramada.

Look for the Oro Valley Historical Society tent.

Be sure to dress for the weather and bring water. Suggested donation is $5 per person. Take out a yearly membership (tax-deductible) on-site and the tour donation is waived!

What better way to learn the roots of your community, spend time outdoors and support the Oro Valley Historical

Society! A great way to learn about the town…when it was a land of indigenous Americans, homesteaders, and ranchers.

The Historic Steam Pump Ranch is located at 10901 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley. For updates please visit the Oro Valley Historical Society Facebook page and our website ovhistory.org.

TOUR DATES: February 27, March 13 and 27, and April 10 and 24.

Oro Valley’s Place in History!

Some Important Historic Dates in Oro Valley History

1869 Francisco Romero settled in the area (first non-native resident)
1874 George Pusch settled in Tucson
1879 Local newspapers mention George Pusch’s ranch north of Tucson
1889 Fabian Romero established a ranch at junction of CDO and Sutherland Washes

  1. 1902  Federal surveyors plot the first homestead township in Oro Valley
  2. 1903  Federal government began to sell homesteads in the Oro Valley area

1903-05 Pusch and Romero families claim homestead land in Oro Valley 1905 Francisco Romero dies
1917 Pusch family expands the ranch to over 1,100 acres

1921 George Pusch dies
1925 Pusch family is forced to sell Steam Pump Ranch
1930 Romero family loses its remaining land in Oro Valley
1935 Joseph McAdams purchases most of the former Romero lands in Oro Valley 1937 Jack Procter begins to purchase sections of Steam Pump Ranch
1939-41 Electric power lines constructed along Oracle Road to Catalina



Happy Birthday Arizona!

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Happy Birthday Arizona!
Arizona Statehood and the Oro Valley Connection

On February 14, 1912 the Arizona Territory was finally admitted to the Union as the 48th state. The road to statehood began in 1863. In that year on February 24th, President Lincoln signed the Organic Act dividing Arizona into a territory separate from New Mexico. The efforts for statehood took shape in earnest in 1904 when to the dismay of Arizona, Congress attached an amendment to the statehood bill calling for Arizona and New Mexico to be admitted as one state. In 1905, the Arizona (Territorial) Legislature passed a resolution objecting to joint statehood: “We believe that such is without precedent in American history. It threatens to fasten upon us a government that would be neither by, nor for the people of Arizona. It would be a government without the consent of the governed. It humiliates our pride, violates our tradition and would subject us to the domination of another commonwealth of different traditions, customs and aspirations…”

Bills in the U. S. Congress were written, amended and rejected several times before both political parties included platform statements favoring separate statehood for Arizona and New Mexico. Finally, a bill was passed in 1908 allowing Arizona to hold elections for delegates to a constitutional convention.
And now for the Oro Valley connection. In 1910, cattle rancher and businessman, George Pusch, was elected as one of the 5 constitutional convention delegates from Pima County. George, an immigrant from Germany, had already set up successful businesses in Tucson (ice storage and a butcher shop) as well as Steam Pump Ranch. (Steam Pump Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places and is located in Oro Valley at 10901 Oracle Road). He was a member of the 1891 and 1899 Territorial Legislature and also on the Tucson City Council. “The 1910 Constitutional Convention lasted 60 days. The Democrats wrote a constitution that contained measures for the recall of all public officials, including judges, who were often viewed as being controlled by large companies and the railroads. They anticipated that Congress would approve it. The Convention Republicans disagreed with the proposed state constitution and all except one refused to sign it. George Pusch and the other Pima County delegates went home, so Pima County had no signatures on the state constitution document sent to Congress for ratification. (Patricia Spoerl, Oro Valley Historical Society Heritage Guide: George Pusch and Arizona Statehood).
The original state constitution reached President Taft’s desk after passing both houses of Congress, but Taft (like the Pima County delegates) vetoed it due to the inclusion of the recall proviso. Arizona relented by taking it out. Again, it passed both houses of Congress and Taft signed the proclamation granting Arizona statehood on February 14, 1912. Incidentally,Arizonans were hoping for Taft’s signature on February 12, Lincoln’s birthday but instead Taft signed it on Valentine’s Day. (Later that year the Arizona constitution was amended to allow for the recall of judges!)

Resources for article:
Oro Valley Historical Society Heritage Guide, Pat Spoerl, 2016 Claiming the Desert, James A. Williams
Arizona: An Illustrated History, Patrick Lavin
AZ Admission to Statehood by Archa Malcom Farlow

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Assembly of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention with signatures of the delegates. George Pusch is seated in the firow on the bottom right.
Photograph was donated to the Oro Valley Historical Society by Henry G. Zipf (Grandson of George and Mathilda Pusch)


President Taft signing the proclamation of Arizona statehood, February 14, 1912


Interested in local history? Stop by Steam Pump Ranch on the second and fourth Saturdays in February, March and April. The Oro Valley Historical Society presents docent-guided tours from 10 a.m. to Noon. No reservations are required for the 50-minute tour that leaves on the hour and every fifteen minutes thereafter. Tours leave from the OVHS tent that is located just south of the Farmer’s Market ramada. Suggested donation is $5 to assist in the cost of our displays and exhibits and ongoing programs. We hope to see you!

Out and About Tucson

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The Garwood Dam in the Rincon Mountains


Looking for an interesting outdoor activity?  A moderately difficult 5 mile trail will take you past the historic Garwood Dam in Saguaro National Park East on the Garwood Dam Loop.

Nelson and Josephine bought the property (about 450 acres) from two original homesteaders in 1945.  Though they named the property the Bar G Ranch, the property was never stocked with cattle but used only as a residence.  Nelson constructed a makeshift road by using dynamite and dragging railroad ties to flatten the rough terrain.  Nelson began construction of the dam in 1948 primarily to supply water to the one room house that was started the same year.  The dam eventually became a steel framed, poured concrete structure that fed two 20,000 gallon storage tanks supplying water to a second larger home that was built in 1950.

Little by little the Garwoods sold off parcels of the property to various entities.  In 1959 they sold the remaining acreage.  The purchaser spent little time on the property and the houses and other buildings fell into poor condition. In the 1960s the abandoned buildings were vandalized and in the 1970s fire consumed what remained of them.  Shortly thereafter, through Eminent Domain laws, the Park Service purchased the property from the owners.


Other metal storage tanks can be found in the area.  These tank sites were originally natural rock pool sites that were able to hold water most of the year.  Historically, these natural pools were used by Indigenous Americans and cattle ranchers, the latter leasing the land for grazing.  The last grazing lease from the park expired in 1979.

By the way, the Garwood Dam is in close proximity to the famed Tanque Verde Ranch.  The term tanque verde  or green tank refers to the reservoir tanks used by ranchers that would stagnate and fill with green algae.  Ranchers would often fill the tanks with goldfish or carp to eat the algae.  Who knew?!



Five Star Trails – Tucson by Rob Rachowiecki

National Park Service website – Garwood Dam history

A Unique Specimen! What Is It?

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One of the many questions that come up during the recent tours of Historic Steam Pump Ranch, is what kind of tree is that?  The Oro Valley Historical Society tour begins at a check-in table just to the west of the tree near what is known as Carlos’s barbeque. The unusual nature of the tree’s seeds prompts the question.


If you guessed a Chinaberry (melia azedarach) tree, you are correct!  The Chinaberry is not native to North America.  It’s found in East Asia, thus its name, and is part of the mahogany family.  It is considered an invasive species. Due to its prolific seed pods and the debris it creates, it is not a good candidate to include in general landscaping.  The leaf debris is highly alkaline and can alter the soil below, affecting nearby plantings. The berries are highly toxic to humans if eaten.  Though birds like to feast on the berries, they can come away from the tree in a “drunken” state after ingesting too many berries.  In the past, before plastic, the seeds were used as beads for rosaries and jewelry.  The wood is a high quality and medium dense timber.  One other saving grace of the Chinaberry is the lovely star shaped spring blooms and fragrance.  So be sure to stop by the ranch when spring has sprung to see the Chinaberry’s show.  Oro Valley Historical Society conducts outdoor tours of Steam Pump Ranch on the second and fourth Saturdays in February, March and April from 10 a.m. to Noon.  We’ll meet you near the Chinaberry tree!


Steam Pump Ranch Tours

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Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!


If you are looking for something to do OUTDOORS, look no further!


The Oro Valley Historical Society is presenting docent-guided tours of the Historic Steam Pump Ranch property on the second and fourth Saturdays in January, February, March and April!


Tours leave on the hour and every fifteen minutes thereafter, between 10 a.m. and Noon (the last tour).  COVID protocols are observed…you’ll need to answer a few questions, have your temperature taken, and wear a mask and socially distance during the tour.  Each tour is limited to 6 participants.  First come first serve…no reservations.  Check in at the south end of the Farmer’s Market ramada.  Look for the Oro Valley Historical Society tent.  Be sure to dress for the weather.  Suggested donation is $5 per person.  Take out a yearly membership (tax-deductible) on-site and the tour donation is waived!


What better way to learn the roots of your community, spend time outdoors and support the Oro valley Historical Society!  A great way for children to learn about the town…when it was a land of  Native Americans, homesteaders, and ranchers.


The Historic  Steam Pump Ranch is located at 10901 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley.  For updates please visit the Oro Valley Historical Society Facebook page and our website ovhistory.org.


TOUR DATES:  January 9 and 23, February 13 and 27,

March 13 and 27, and April 10 and 24.



December Newsletter

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Oro Valley Historical Society Newsletter December 2020


It’s been a LONG 2020! But we are happy to announce that the Oro Valley Historical Society (OVHS) will be having a “round-up” at Steam Pump Ranch. The Historic Steam Pump Ranch Park will be open for outdoor tours of the property on Saturday, December 12, and Saturday, December 19, from 10 a.m. until noon (last tour departure). The tour will include OVHS docent guided talks that include an overview of Native Cultures that lived in the area, the Pusch Ranch House, the Steam Pump Building, the Proctor-Leiber House and the Heritage Garden. Due to COVID, the building interiors will NOT be open. Tours will last about 50 minutes. COVID protocols (i.e. masks, temperature, social distancing, health questions) will be necessary for tour participants. Tour groups will be limited to six and will leave approximately every 15 minutes. First come first serve…no reservations. Be sure to dress for the weather. Suggesteddonation for the tour is $10 with all proceeds to benefit the continuing programs of the Oro Valley Historical Society. If you still need some holiday gift and seasonal items, the OVHS will have a booth with books, holiday décor and miscellaneous items set-up at the tour check-in site. Look for signs and the booth just south of the Farmer’s Market Ramada. The Historic Steam Pump Ranch is located at 10901 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley. For updates please visit the Oro Valley Historical Society Facebook page and our website ovhistory.org.


We rely on volunteers! That’s what we are, a self-sustaining, volunteer organization. Though COVID restrictions have limited our activity, we are looking forward to the day when we can gather and resume our past programs. In the meantime, there are still many ways to get involved. We are starting to conduct outdoor tours at Steam Pump Ranch (see above article). Would you like to greet visitors and/or become a docent? Is gardening your thing? A helping hand in the Heritage Garden is always welcome. Are you a “techie”? We hope to get our collections documented in a more up-to-date format and could use your expertise. If you’re the type of person who always has an organizational “to do” list, then you might be able to help with administrative tasks that never seem to go away. We’ll find something to do with your spare time! Contact Teri Colmar at teri.colmar@gmail.com.

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The Society held its annual meeting outside at Steam Pump Ranch on November 12. Board members Sue Chambasian and Henry Zipf Jr. were elected, and Jim Williams gave a brief talk on Steam Pump Ranch and the history of Oracle Road….The Society is still negotiating with the Town regarding an agreement to rent office space at the Ranch…OVHS has purchased the Copper Queen safe to

be used in the Tack Room….Proceeds from
the Z Mansion event are being used to
update the display posters used at Steam
Pump Ranch. After that, the remaining Z funds will be designated for our building fund.


We’ll get right to the point! Without our treasured members, the Oro Valley Historical Society (OVHS) would have a difficult path. Support from our members helps us continue lectures and exhibits, maintain/restore/add to our collections and assist with a multitude of other undertakings to adhere to our mission: “to promote research, preservation, educationand dissemination of history related to the Greater Oro Valley area”.

Our membership year runs from January thru December so it’s time to renew for 2021! Membership levels begin at just $20. You can renew by visiting our website www.ovhistory.org and then hit the link JOIN (scroll to the bottom of the Home page.) We will also send out an email membership renewal reminder with an attached form that can be submitted via mail.

Not interested in membership? Perhaps you might consider a year-end contribution. Needless to say, this has been a “historically” challenging year. We were fortunate to have one fundraiser before the onset of COVID but have been unable to conduct many of the activities that keep us afloat. Contributions are fully tax deductible as OVHS is a self-sustaining volunteer based 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. Contributions can be donated on the websitewww.ovhistory.org. Hit the DONATE button (scroll to the bottom of the Home page or upper right hand corner tab).

We can’t learn from history once it’s gone. Let the future know that Oro Valley has a long, rich and vibrant history. With your help OVHS will “Keep Oro Valley History Alive”. Many thanks for your continued support!


Board member Joyce Rychener talking at the Annual Meeting on November 12th

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The Town of Oro Valley (TOV) Parks and Recreation Division is currently working on Master Plans for area parks. This includes Historic Steam Pump Ranch. The Oro Valley Historical Society (OVHS) believes that some of the plans and proposed activities have strayed from the historic nature of the park and its original intended use (i.e. the outdoor theater). Now is the time to voice your opinion as to the future direction of the park! Will it become a commerce center with unrelated activities taking away from our local history or will it become a historic gem to be treasured for future generations?

Visit the Town of Oro Valley website (www.orovalleyaz.gov) and connect to the tab, located on the home page “Discuss”. This will take you to a box labeled “Park Master Plans individual site feedback”. Click on the box and you will be able to post your opinion about Steam Pump Ranch and the other town parks. The ball is in your court…let the town hear fromyou! YOU MUST POST BY DECEMBER 18!


Walter F. Pusch III (great grandson of George and Mathilda Pusch) donated two Burden Baskets to the Society. Gary Kern has graciously restored two photographs. Peter Lourie, explorer, writer, teacher and historian, and nephew of Henry G. Zipf visited Steam Pump Ranch on December 4th to learn more about his uncle and to tour the ranch. Several members shared information and Peter offered information on his family.



Donations on Display at Annual Meeting: Apache Burden Basket (Walter Pusch), Painting and Carafe (Caryl Thornton), and vintage iron and school bell (Teri Colmar).


Jim Kriegh hunting for meteorites.

Jim Kriegh, a founder of the Town of Oro Valley and one of the founders of OVHS, donated a meteorite collection to the Society. Both Jim and I had rather large collections as most were obtained in trades with meteorite dealers here for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. We were the only ones in 1998 who had the Gold Basin meteorites, as it had not yet been announced to the general public. Later, we each bought other

by Twink Monrad


meteorites and usually we would buy some for each other, so our collections grew. He wanted to donate a representative collection of small and easy-to-handle meteorites to be displayed in the Steam Pump Ranch or an OVHS museum.

The Kriegh collection of small meteorites and slices of different ones is being held as part of the OVHS collection. Sometimes, I have put them on display at the Oro Valley Library and twice did so at the Steam Pump Ranch during events. They are available for anyone to see if I am asked to bring them to a meeting or get-together. They are easy to transport as they are in 3 flat boxes and easy to carry.

The story of Jim Kriegh’s meteorite find is a fun tale, and was a pleasant surprise for him as it was unexpected. At the Desert Gold Diggers monthly meeting in the fall of 1995 which Jim and I and our friend John attended, a planetary scientist from the University of Arizona Dr.

David Kring was the speaker. He brought a few meteorites to show us and encouraged us to keep our ears and eyes open for meteorites in the deserts while we were hunting for gold with our metal detectors. The room was full of maybe 100 gold hunters.

During Thanksgiving weekend of 1995, Jim and John and another friend named John decided to go to Gold Basin in northwest Arizona to hunt for gold during the holiday. I was asked to take care of Jim’s mail and house and on his desk he left me a map of where they would be. When they returned a few days later, Jim was pretty excited as he showed me some brown, heavy rocks which he said sounded like gold on his metal detector and he



wondered if they could be meteorites. I understand that in Gold Basin John and John were teasing him about his “hot rocks” (a term used when Earth rocks containing some native iron or other metals sound like gold nuggets but aren’t gold at all) they were finding some and throwing some in the washes. Jim was steadfast in his belief that they were heavier-than-Earth rocks for their size and the sound was too good. In fact, they sounded just like

Twink Monrad with Jim Kriegh at Gold Basin.

gold nuggets.

After checking with a meteorite hunter he took some to the University of Arizona to Dr. David Kring, our speaker at the Gold Club. David immediately cut one and sure enough they were stone meteorites. David asked Jim if there were any more. Jim replied that “I think they are all over the place in this area.” David said if that were true it would really be wonderful, a large strewn field on BLM land where anyone could go hunting for them. That being said, he asked if Jim would be willing to find a couple of friends to help Jim map the field as volunteers for a two-year period in secret so the field would not be disturbed until the map was made of locations that we would find and pick up. Jim asked one friend John and me to be his team. We went for a week every month between September and June, and Jim kept perfect records of the finds. As a civil engineer, he could mark them on a topographic map with accuracy and the U of A was very happy. GPS units were not as common as now so we did it all by hand. At night we weighed the stones, labeled them, and Jim would mark the map in groups. In the two years we ended up mapping a field 12 miles by 5 miles, and it has been expanded since that.

After the University finished the study, the meteorites were named Gold Basin by the international nomenclature committee.

I have his original map which I treasure and had laminated. It was a very fun adventure for us all, especially as the find was announced at the 1998 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. We literally felt like we had 200 new friends as everyone in the meteorite world, hunters, scientists, authors and collectors wanted to meet the U of A civil engineering professor who “accidentally”

discovered a major meteorite field. Jim has been given world- wide credit for showing that the average person, women and men, can find a new hobby of either discovering new meteorite finds or just finding meteorites at newly discovered fields. Most of the meteorites that we found during the first two years were returned to us after the U of A studied and documented each one, and some they kept and a few went to the Smithsonian for study.

Many different meteorites have been found by people on purpose hunting on legal government land, dry lake beds and blowholes on any surface since Jim’s find. A few others had of course found meteorites before that, but it was pretty unheard of for the metal detecting folks to go on purpose to look for them. Of course, the dry climates all over the world are best for searching as the stone or iron meteorites which fall are well preserved, not rusting away as in any wet climate or heavily wooded area which makes it hard to hunt. The meteorite folks still come to Tucson and we still get together. Jim is missed by all, and I feel so honored to have been riding his coat tails and able to keep his memory alive to those folks. For the 20th anniversary of his find, 2015, some of us organized a memorial hunt at Gold Basin. Many


there were younger or newer hunters who had not even met Jim. They wanted to hear all about him, so afternoons and evenings after the morning hunts all wanted to hear stories and tales about the original Gold Basin find, about Jim and hunting stories. I was so happy to be the one to tell these things to the campers. (John has had health problems and was not present)

This November 2020 is the 25th anniversary. I doubt that anything will be organized with the virus still around, but Jim will be in the thoughts of many around the world. Below, see two links with some photos which will further explain this Gold Basin story. And, I have put my complete photo album on You Tube under Gold Basin Project which you can see. We had NO idea this would turn out to be such a big deal, as we had no knowledge of the huge meteorite world that awaited us. I am very happy that for some reason I took lots of photos. If

you see the album you will note that the three of us plus Jim’s wonderful dog Kristy were all pictured in the first part, except for our scientist David Kring who came up three times to see what we were doing and how. He would have joined us more but he had duties teaching and researching at the U of A. Later in the photos you can see that after February 1998 it was announced to the public. Many wanted to join us and learn how to hunt there, which was great fun.

The fun part of the Gold Basin find regarding the Desert Gold Diggers is that when this was announced, and Jim and John and I were at a meeting, many there said “Oh yes, we were finding those ugly brown rocks and throwing them away for years!” We said: “Yes, we know!!

Every time we saw a dig hole in the ground, we knew we would find a meteorite either thrown near the hole or in a nearby bush!” It was quite funny!

James D. Kriegh


(Below: Society members meet with Peter Lourie. Peter is a teacher, writer, photographer, historian, explorer and nephew of Henry G. Zipf. He has traveled the world sharing his experiences through talks and children’s books. Peter taught Adventure Writing & Digital

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Storytelling at Middlebury College in Vermont.”