Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Oro Valley Historical Society Is Back!

Oro Valley Historical Society is back! 
We are hoping you all had a fabulous summer whether you were here for our incredible heat and uneventful monsoons or were someplace where you didn’t get to experience either of those. 

We’ve been here this summer planning a very exciting year for you. We started our exhibits at Steam Pump Ranch on September 9. The Pusch House museum will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon, and we start with our exhibit honoring Hispanic Heritage month. Come see who was the first non-indigenous settler in Oro Valley, where that person lived, and who followed in his footsteps. There is no quiz at the end of the tour, and we are certain you will learn something new during your visit! Every month we will be changing our exhibits with a new theme, and would love to show you some history about where we live. There is no charge for the tours, and donations are gladly accepted.

Steam Pump Ranch has a new look, as well. First of all, unfortunately there was destruction of the Farmers’ Market ramada. The Town is working diligently to discover who would have committed such vandalism, and hopefully the culprits will be found. However, you will see a revitalized barbecue area (with kitchen!) on the east side of that ramada where the Procter family entertained guests from around the country when they lived on the property. Also, both of their bunkhouses have been remodeled into two separate restrooms – one with a “green room” for brides, performers, musicians, etc.

In May, we lost our beloved and respected President, Henry King Zipf. He was the great grandson of George and Mathilda Pusch who owned and operated Steam Pump Ranch in the late 1800’s. Henry was an active member and Board member of the Historical Society for many years, dedicating time, resources, and archival material to the Society for its collections. The Society Is grateful to the Town of Oro Valley for the memorial tree planted on Steam Pump Ranch in Henry’s honor on June 15, which would have been Henry’s 67th birthday.

Under the direction of Board member, Joyce Rychener, students from the BASIS school had a weeklong project in the Steam Pump Ranch heritage garden in May, based on the book Roxaboxen. Students broke into teams to create their own towns with actual buildings, canals, bridges, roads, lakes, agricultural fields, and other structures that make a town a town. The purpose of the week-long event was to provide an opportunity for students to be outside and away from technology, to work as teams to create whatever their imaginations could generate, to learn about nature and the land they were working with, and to see how they could be inspired by each other.

The Society was invited by the Town to participate in a grant from the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area (of which Oro Valley is a part) to erect an informational sign at Steam Pump Ranch to celebrate our region’s contribution to America’s history. Themes that will be included include streams in the desert, ranching, farming, native Americans, and Spanish and Mexican influence. The sign will be installed in late fall.

The Society’s former President and lifetime supporter, Jim Williams, is putting together a speakers’ schedule which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Town of Oro Valley in 2024. The schedule will be posted once all speakers have been confirmed, and all talks will be at the Oro Valley Library. We’ll let you know who and when!

And finally, we would like to thank Intelligent Office for their recent support and donation to our mission. Located in Innovation Park, the company provides individuals with office space to call your own now that so many of us have gone to remote work. You have offices, meeting space, someone to answer your phone, executive assistants, and a mailing address. What more could you ask for in this busy world?

WE WANT YOU! The Oro Valley Historical Society is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit volunteer organization, whose mission is “To promote research, preservation, education, and dissemination of historical information related to the greater Oro Valley area.” We invite you to become a supporter and/or a volunteer. Visit us at and help keep Oro Valley history alive!

We are currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are interested in becoming docents at the Pusch House museum and for Steam Pump Ranch tours. Training sessions are being scheduled for the fall season. We hope to hear from you. Contact: Tina at In addition, we could use some help with social media, fundraising, and gardening – there’s something for everyone because history loves company!