Santa Cruz River

The Santa Cruz River begins near the Patagonia Mountains.  The river flows south into Mexico, turns westward and flows back up north through Nogales and Tucson to the Santa Cruz flats. Originally the river was a green environment hosting a wide variety of wildlife such as fish, birds, beavers and grizzly bears. Later the river became a water source for Indians, cowboys and farmers. Historically the river went underground in Marana and flowed into the Gila River. With the growth of Tucson, ground water pumping became a necessity. This ground water pumping lowered the water table and the Santa Cruz River started running dry in the 1940s. In the area of Tucson the Santa Cruz River flows only during heavy rains. Near the headwaters in the Patagonia Mountains, the Santa Cruz River still flows.


“Growth changed Santa Cruz River Permanently.” Arizona Daily Star, Caliente section. November 24, 2005. Page 45.

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