Steam Pump Ranch

By February 16, 2016Videos

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

Oro Valley Historical Society
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