The early history of Arivaca is obscure. It was probably a Pima or Tohono O’odham village, abandoned after the Pima Indian Revolt of 1751. Spanish settlers developed small mines.
In 1833 a Mexican land grant of 8,677 acres (35.11 km2) was approved, which became La Aribac ranch, a Pima word for “small springs”. Charles Poston bought the ranch in 1856, and the reduction works for the Heintzelman Mine, at Cerro Colorado, were then erected at Arivaca. The Court of Private Land Claims eventually disallowed the Arivaca Land Grant. The US Post Office was established April 10, 1878, with Noah W. Bernard as the first Postmaster; still in operation at ZIP code 85601. Freighter and rancher Pedro Aguirre established a stage stop in Arivaca and the Buenos Aires Ranch. In 1879 he built the historic Arivaca Schoolhouse, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, as the oldest standing school building in Arizona.
Arivaca was a camp for at least three United States Cavalry units during the 1910-20 Mexican Revolution: Troop B of the Connecticut National Guard/The First Company Governor’s Horse Guards (1916), the Utah Cavalry (1917) and the 10th Cavalry (1917–20).
Arivaca Mining District
The historic Arivaca mining district consists of over 100 old mines in the Las Guijas Mountains northwest, the San Luis Mountains to the southwest and Cobre Ridge to the southeast of the town. Gold, silver, lead, copper and tungsten production has been recorded starting in Spanish colonial times and continuing intermittently through the 1950s.
Arivaca had a small population until the Trico Electric Cooperative power lines arrived in the valley in 1956. In 1972 the Arivaca Ranch sold 11,000 acres to a land developer who subdivided the property into 40-acre parcels. Four years later, the dirt Arivaca Road was paved.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many new residents moved into the area, and a medical clinic, fire department, arts council, human resource office, community center and a branch of Pima County Public Library were opened.
In 2012 the Arivaca Schoolhouse, the oldest standing schoolhouse in the state, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A former nursing home was turned into the Arivaca Action Center with a focus on education, the arts, wellness, hospitality, and sustainability. The AAC offers space for meetings, overnight guests, gardening, and physical therapy.
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Photo by Desert butterfly