Tuesday, April 27, 2010


From 2010 Tumacacori
This mission was established in early 1691 by the Spanish Jesuit priest Father Eusebio Kino, during a century of expansion northward along New Spain's west coast corridor. In 1767, King Charles II of Spain, for political reasons, kicked out the Jesuits, and the Franciscans took over the mission. They faced Apache hostility, disease, encroaching settlers, and a lack of government support.

About 1800 the Franciscans began to build a large church to replace the modest structure the Jesuits had built at Tumacacori (pronounced Too-muh-CAW-ca-ree). Poor funding  and the Mexican wars slowed down construction and modified the grand building design. Other factors also intervened, and the hard winter of 1848 drove the last residents out of Tumacacori and neighboring Tubac. The 157 year thread of continuity begun by Father Kino ended. The church was left uncompleted, with scaffolding around the bell tower, which never received its dome.

Today, Tumacacori is a National Historical Park, a tribute to the brave and sometimes perhaps foolhardy mission priests, and to the courage of the Pima Indians who lived in the area and supported the mission with their labor and their conversion to Christianity.

Today the old mission church is illuminated only by daylight and flash cameras. Entrance is through the front door and down the handicapped-accesible ramp.

In its heyday, the church must have been beautiful, from what is seen in this diorama.

Today, of course, all religious symbols and statuary are gone, save for remnants of the original painted murals.

There are a few "outbuilding" ruins remaining, and it's fun trying to get creative with photography!

While we visited Tumacacori, we enjoyed meeting and photographing Guadalupe Gutierrez, who was demonstrating the art of making and serving la tortilla de harina, which we would simply call a flour tortilla.

Sra. Gutierrez, born in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, is a master tortilla maker. At age seven, she and her older sister were making the tortillas for her family.

She makes the tortillas with flour, water, salt and a little bit of lard, then pats them out to just the right thickness, size and shape. Then she cooks them on a metal plate over an open fire, the traditional way.

When Sra. Gutierrez was finished with two tortillas, she handed one to each of us, spread with refried beans and a mild salsa (for our gringo palates).

Behind the mission church lies the mission cemetery and its chapel, which was never completed. A few marked graves remain, including the last burial, tiny Juanita Allegria,. born in 1915, buried in 1916.

We had a fine time visiting Tumacacori Mission, and we hope you enjoyed the trip with us. To see more pictures of this historic park, please visit our web album , 2010 Tumacacori.

Before we close, let's welcome our newest followers: John, who runs a blog called John and Aileen on the Road; Carol K about whom I can find very little; our friends of a few years Bill and Mabel; and Pam DeVault. Where do all these fine folk come from? Darned if I know, but Suzy and I are most pleased to welcome them to ... Our Life on Wheels!


  1. Good tour and good pictures. Thanks!

  2. It is always the architecture I find most interesting about old churches, missions, & grand old buildings of the southwest. And for some of the buildings the interesting history is there as well.
    I have yet to figure out why people like refried beans though!! Another one of life's little mysteries for me.
    Good story & great photos.....

  3. Thanks Jerry for the tour and great pictures We have always enjoyed our trips to San Antonio and the old missions there.

  4. Thanks for the Mission tour and great pics!! I'm sorry I missed that one when we were in that area. I would have loved to try one of those tortilla's!

  5. There is nothing like a homemade flour tortilla. They are fantastic and I'm sure you must have enjoyed that meal. Thanks for the tour of the mission, it was great. I really enjoyed that photo of the trees in the cemetery grounds, the way the tree limbs were growing looked great.

    I've been looking everyday for a new post from you, Jerry. Glad to see one today....and it was a great one! Enjoy the rest of your week.

  6. Excellent report, Jerry! Thanks for all the wonderful photos and thorough description.


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