Drachman Institute

Faculty Member(s): 

The historic acequia at Tumacácori National Historical Park was likely constructed by 1774, channeling surface flow from the Santa Cruz River to mission fields and orchard. Historic documents and aerial photography suggest use of the feature continued into the late 1930s. Shortly thereafter, natural and man-­made changes on the landscape buried or obscured a large portion of the feature. Recent archaeological and geophysical testing has provided evidence of intact acequia stratigraphy buried within the Park.

The compuerta or lavandaría (referred to in the body of this report as the compuerta) was re-­exposed in 1993. This feature provides a tangible point of reference for the largely buried acequia, as well as insight into the techniques and materials used in its construction and use. The remaining acequia swale that extends to the north and south of the compuerta provides further insight into the morphology of the feature. Together, the compuerta and extant swale provide a locus for onsite interpretation of the larger acequia feature.

A condition assessment conducted within the Park found the acequia to be in fair condition. Primary issues affecting the condition include material loss and deterioration due to weathering and disturbance resulting from rodent and insect activity, impacts from Park development and past research, as well as vegetation encroachment. Low visibility within the landscape, combined with a lack of detailed information pertaining to the morphology and use of the feature, has impacted the Park’s ability to increase its interpretation.

In order to address issues affecting the acequia’s condition and visibility, this report recommends a two-­part approach to treatment:

  • Preservation maintenance of the compuerta and extant swale to maintain the integrity and long-­term stability of the historic materials.
  • Rehabilitation of the buried acequia alignment as a pedestrian trail to increase visibility of the feature’s location and linear nature within the landscape, while preserving the archaeological data associated with the buried stratigraphy.

This report recommends that rehabilitation of the acequia alignment be conducted in coordination with ongoing landscape restoration and maintenance with the Park. As such, the recommendations in this report should be incorporated into a Cultural Landscape Report for the Park unit.

Date: June 2014
Location: Tumacacori National Historical Park, Tumacacori-Carmen, Arizona

National Park Service

Project Type: Preservation Plan
Project Source/Funding:

National Park Service

Desert Southwest/Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit (DS-CESU)

Drachman Institute Team: R. Brooks Jeffery, Director
Student: Barry Price Steinbrecher
Drachman Institute Program: Heritage Conservation