In a town revered for its forward thinking, Oro Valley isn’t forgetting to take a look back at history as it celebrates Settler’s Day on April 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event, which is intended to honor the area’s early settlers, will take place at the historic and newly renovated Steam Pump Ranch.

This year’s Settler’s Day will center on the history of the Pusch family.

German immigrants George Pusch and Johann Zellweger established the ranch in the 1870s, and built a steam pump to provide water for cattle.

Now attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the historic property and family from Pusch family descendents, whom will guest speak at the event.

“Each guest speaker will bring an element of history to life through storytelling and pictures,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan. “The Pusch family great grandchildren will highlight what brought their ancestors to Southern Arizona. They will also touch on what they did, how they lived, made money, and cohabitated with Native Americans.”

Also participating in the event are Barbara Marriot, author of “Local Legends,” storyteller Van Fowers, archaeologist Jenny Adams, and Gila Indian Reservation resident Ramona Farms. 

Family activities will include face-painting, a bug and snake exhibit, garden activities, stable wagon rides, a petting zoo, crafts, and more.

An array of musical guests will perform, beginning with talent David Rychener as the event kicks off.

“We want to create a comfortable place to relax, eat, play, learn and be entertained,” said Diaz-Trahan. “We want our visitors to desire more, contribute and become involved in our past and our future here at Steam Pump Ranch.”

Later today, town council will look at an agenda item that would allow the ability to sell and consume alcohol on site. The town currently prohibits the consumption of “spirituous liquor” at park facilities. The ordinance, if passed, would make an exception for Steam Pump Ranch. 

Along with the festivities, the Town of Oro Valley will unveil its recent renovations to the property, which include improvements to the Pusch family ranch home, electric and water utility relocation, installation of parking and restroom facilities, and landscaping enhancement.

“It’s stunning the job that has been done there,” said Oro Valley Councilwoman Mary Snider. “It’s like a museum now. We have a lot of history here in Oro Valley, and we don’t want that to get lost.”

Additionally, Snider hopes the historic site will attract tourism and thereby have a positive economic impact on the town.

Future plans include access improvements from Oracle Road and the CDO river path, renovation of the Proctor/Leiber house, and the development of additional community facilities to support activities such as the Oro Valley Farmers’ Market.

The town’s 15.5-acre Steam Pump Ranch property lies along the banks of the Cañada del Oro, situated between two busy commercial centers on Oracle Road, just north of First Avenue and La Reserve.

Admission to Settler’s Day is free, but donations are encouraged. The event is sponsored by the Town of Oro Valley, the Oro Valley Historic Preservation Commission, Native Seeds/SEARCH, the Oro Valley Historical Society, and The Explorer Newspaper. 

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