On Saturday, February 10, 2018 the Fort Lowell neighborhood invites the community to celebrate Tucson’s bygone days at the 37th Annual Fort Lowell Day Celebration. The day includes a wide variety of free activities and displays where visitors can learn about this hidden corner of Tucson’s past.
People of many cultures have lived in the neighborhood for well over a thousand years. During that time, it has served as a prehistoric Hohokám farming community, a U.S. Army post during the Apache Wars, a Mexican immigrant farming community, and a Mormon immigrant farming community.
After the Fort was decommissioned in 1891 and abandoned, Mexican farmers and ranchers began moving into the area, forming a community known as El Fuerte or The Fort. Many examples of their Sonoran-style adobe homes can be seen today.
The ruins of Ft Lowell are now a city park. In recognition of its importance, the area has been designated a Historic District by Pima County. Portions of the area are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The annual Fort Lowell Day /La Reunión de El Fuerte Celebration is presented by the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association and the Fort Lowell Historic Zone Advisory Board to highlight the area’s rich history. This year’s events will take place from noon until 4 p.m. and include:
At 10 a.m. and noon, vintage baseball will be played by the rules of the late 1800s. See how soldiers relaxed and learn about part of the Fort’s relationship with citizens of Tucson.
At noon, a flag raising ceremony in the park will open the event.
At 12:30 p.m., B Troop, US Cavalry Regiment (Memorial) from Fort Huachuca will conduct drills on the old Parade Grounds at Fort Lowell Park., and at 2 p.m. the 4th Cavalry Regimental Band will play 19th Century music.
Children and adults can make miniature adobe bricks like those used to build Old Fort Lowell and El Fuerte by the Post Hospital. At the Fort Lowell Museum, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be exhibits and games for children.
Tucson Medical Center will have a shuttle at Fort Lowell Park throughout the event to take visitors to see the historic buildings on its nearby campus and will make stops at the City of Tucson’s first designated historic landmark, San Pedro Chapel.
Children can pick up a Passport to History to be stamped at various sites and earn a treat.
On the west side of Craycroft Road, visitors can view the restored late 19th Century Officers’ Quarters and at 1 p.m. learn about the Hohokám pit houses and artifacts found at this site and others in the neighborhood. Just north of this site across Fort Lowell Road, in the Fort Lowell Commissary building, a descendant of the Mormon community will tell stories about early Mormon settlers in the area. (Fort Lowell Road will be closed to vehicle traffic from noon to 4 p.m.)
Walking west on Fort Lowell Road, visitors will encounter the Post Trader’s house, many adobe brick homes, and a narrow dirt road called El Callejón, the heart of the village of El Fuerte. Site hosts will be available to tell visitors about the history of the homes and neighborhood. There will be food trucks and music along the roadway. The group Way Out West will play nostalgic western and cowboy music, and a youthful Mariachi group will also perform.
A short distance further west, on the south side of Fort Lowell Road, is the San Pedro Chapel. The Chapel, which once served the village of El Fuerte and the northern Tucson Basin, is now owned by the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association, Inc. At 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.in the Chapel, two doctors will enlighten adult visitors about 19th Century medicine. One will give a lecture on medical techniques and instruments used in the 1800s, and the other will perform a mock surgical amputation.
A Mexican paper flower making activity for children will be held in a building adjacent to the Chapel.
A map of the sites with a schedule of events will be available at information booths in Fort Lowell Park, along Fort Lowell Road and at San Pedro Chapel.