History Beneath Your Feet

Virginia Bynum

Have you ever stopped to think about who walked on these hills before they were SaddleBrooke? Whose ranch was located here? And what was their connection to Johnson & Johnson? Did you know you could have waterskied on a lake near the Preserve? Who made the pottery shards that you can find out in the desert? How much gold was found in these hills?

The answers to these questions and many more can be found on the shelves of the DesertView Library.

Local author Robert Simpson has compiled a fascinating, well-researched, two-volume history of our immediate area titled From the Cañada del Oro to the Tortolitas. Barbara Marriott’s books, such as The Hidden History of SaddleBrooke and Beyond and Oro Valley, are quick reads and full of interesting pictures. Robert E. Zucker’s book Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains is an excellent comprehensive history of all the activities that took place out our back door, from Spanish missions to mining to treasure hunting. The story of the Hohokam civilization, who lived here from 450 CE before mysteriously vanishing around 1500, is told in The Hohokam Millennium.

The area of Romero Ruins in Catalina State Park comes alive in local author Sharon K. Miller’s fictional series of three books. Her Clay Series tells the story through the eyes of three women: a contemporary archeologist, a homesteader, and a Hohokam woman. All three books are available at both the SaddleBrooke One and DesertView Libraries.

Fascinating and famous characters populated our immediate neighborhood. Barbara Marriott’s book Annie’s Guests: Tale from a Frontier Hotel is about William “Curly” Neal and his wife, Annie, who built the world-famous Mountain View Hotel in Oracle in the late 1890s.“Buffalo Bill” Cody, Neal’s partner, and his gold mining adventures in Oracle are part of this story.

For more contemporary local history, you can read about the Biosphere 2, that white dome you can see above the Preserve, in Dreaming the Biosphere: The Theater of All Possibilities and The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2.

Much can be discovered about an area’s history by exploring the local culture. Your libraries have many books about the art, architecture, and local customs of the Southwest and Tucson in particular. Check out The Desert Southwest: Four Thousand Years of Life and Art or Navajo Rugs: The Essential Guide. Do you wonder what the Day of the Dead is all about? Pick up Day of the Dead by Williams and Mack to learn more about how and why it is celebrated. We have several books on Tucson architecture, such as Yesterday’s Tucson Today: Your Guide to Walking the Historic Towns of the Santa Cruz Valley and A Guide to Tucson Architecture. A fun way to get to know the area might be Secret Tucson: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

To further explore our region, DesertView Library has a National Parks collection, as well as the Travel and Southwest Collections, which offer many guidebooks for Tucson and the Southwest.

If you use the SaddleBrooke Libraries, please support the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL). You can visit them at www.sbfsl.org. Funding from FSL enables the libraries to buy new books, DVDs, and audiobooks for your enjoyment.