The Santa Cruz River is rich with history and natural resources. Many people have been attracted to the area because of its landscape and the flowing river. Early archeological evidence suggests that the Santa Cruz River basin has been inhabited for 4,000 years. The Hohokam left behind canals in central Arizona (lower Santa Cruz) indicating advanced agriculture technology. The Hohokam utilized the rivers resources for food and drew water from wells. The later O’odham people did as well and the river continued to flow as the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1540.
The Spanish explorers saw the river’s value for agriculture and raising livestock. They began establishing visitas, and missions along the river where many Native Americans had their villages. The Santa Cruz River would soon support an increase in population, agriculture and livestock adding demand on the river. Yet, the river continued to flow and provide people with needed water. The Spanish settlers and Native Americans shared a common view of the river as central for life.
The river brought people to its floodplains and the history of the area is enriched because of its presence. In Tumacacori an adobe church stands reminding its visitors of history, culture, and a river that nourished many communities over the years.