About Three Points/Robles Junction
We are creating information about our community, with some history and some pictures. Watch this space! Here is a start.
Click here for a History of Diamond Bell Ranch
Brief History of Robles Ranch/Three Points
Three Points sits 45 miles from Mexico, at the crossroads of Highway 86 (which runs east to west between Tucson and Ajo) and Highway 286 (which runs south to the border at Sasabe and is called simply The Corridor). Robles Junction is an unincorporated community in Pima County, Arizona, United States. Robles Junction is located at the intersection of Arizona State Route 86 and Arizona State Route 286 southwest of Tucson. Route 286 traverses the center of the slightly northeast-trending Altar Valley; Sasabe is at the southern terminus, and Robles Junction is at the northern. The Altar Valley ends at the area of Robles Junction, with two other valleys converging from the northwest. The Aguirre Valley is west and the Avra Valley is east.
Information about our Local Plant Environment
Donna Derosia of Kestrel Market has written a number of interesting articles about our local plants and greenery. Check these out, you will find them very informative.
Sparsely populated for much of its early life, Three Points has encountered rip-roaring growth since the early 1980s. The 2000 Census counted 5,200 people in the 44 square miles around Three Points, though many suspect that Census counts grossly underestimate the populations of low-income areas. In the much larger area stretching from White Horse Ranch on the south to Mile Wide Road on the north, and from Ryan Field on the east to Coleman Road on the west, the number rises easily to 30,000 or more. The ranch, at one time, covered more than 1 million acres!
To residents of the Robles Junction/Three Points community, the acquisition, rehabilitation, and adaptive use of the Robles Ranch will allow this historic site to continue to be the focal point of our community by providing a sense of place and identity rooted deep in Arizona history. At this literal crossroads, Sonoran and southern Arizona culture and economic development were brought together in ways that significantly shaped the broad patterns of southern Arizona history.
An architect from Phoenix , Jerry Doyle, was hired to oversee the rehabilitation of the Ranch House. This was begun on March 27, 2001 and finished on February 13, 2002. At the same time that the house was under construction 2 arenas were built for 4H use and livestock activities. Rehabilitation of the 117 year old Robles Ranch headquarters included the reinforcement of dam- aged structural elements and repairs to windows, doors, roof, flooring, termite treatment, adobe masonry and refinishing of building interior and exterior, new electrical and heating and cooling sys- tems, and other improvements. Except for the addition of an exterior ADA compliant public restroom, no significant interior or exterior alterations were made. This adaptive use of the historic Robles Ranch will allow community use of the facility as a community center, library and reading room, and meeting place. Offices for social services, and for recreation and educational uses, are also programmed. This rehabilitation project will provide a much-needed meeting place and anchor for this rural community. The barn was remodeled and a large room added to serve as a clothing bank. A Pro Neighborhood Grant of $4,000 and many local volunteers enabled us to landscape the grounds. Mesquite Valley Growers, owned by Bernabe’s grandaughter and son in law, donated plants On May 4, 2002, a gala grand opening and ribbon cutting launched the Robles Ranch Community Center.
In 1917 the ranch was sold for $250,000 to the West Coast Cattle Company. The sale included some with to ten thousand head of cattle. According to the Tucson Citizen, March 29, 1917, "the sale is the first direct result of the recently defined new Papago Indian Reservation, which cut the Robles Ranch in half and interfered with the grazing of stock." Before leaving the Robles family story, a footnote must be added about the sensational 1934 kidnapping of six-year old June Robles. Bernabe' Robles, June's grandfather, who was considered a very prosperous businessman, received a ransom note for $10,000 and instructions for the exchange. The exchange did not occur, and silence followed until nineteen days after the abduction when a letter was delivered to Governor Moeur giving directions as to where to find Bernabe' grand-daughter. June Robles was found alive but buried and staked in a pit in the desert east of Tucson.
No one was ever charged and convicted of the kidnapping. Robinson Locke, a well-known rancher, and one of the founders of The Mountain Oyster Club in downtown Tucson bought the ranch in 1942. The ranch had by now been reduces in size to some 60 sections in the Avra and Altar Valleys. Mr. Locke embarked on extensive range improvements on the ranch, including seeding, fencing, and the construction of a number of windmills to supply water to remote areas of the ranch. R. C. Locke also established the Moltacqua Ranch and race track on Sabino Canyon Road where the Tack Room Restaurant now stands. In 1949 the ranch was again sold. This time to John R. Stevens of Riverside, California. Mr. Stevens, a California rancher, continued to operate the historic ranch as a cattle operation, and made extensive repairs and improvements to the buildings.
In about 1967 the ranch was again sold. This time to Ralph Wingfield who also has extensive holdings in the Santa Cruz Valley in the Tubac / Tumacacori area. In 1981 the ranch was running some 300 head of cattle on 34,000 acres according to an article in the AZ. Daily Star, [02/26/81] about Roberto Traslavina, a long-time vaquero in the Altar Valley. At the time, Senor Traslavina was living at the headquarters, and had been the ranch foreman for the past 10 years. In the mid-80's the Wingfield's sold the ranch, and it began to be broken up and sold off in parcels to developers. All that is now left of the once great ranch is the headquarters buildings and about six acres of land. The Robles ranch complex today is comprised of several buildings including the original ranch headquarters and residence, a recent detached carport and shed, a tack room, new stables and a riding arena, and a detached residence that may have served as the bunkhouse.
Other features that may be original include a segment of a stacked mesquite log corral, a well, and a fieldstone and concrete wall and watering trough that were noted in the stable area, west of the house. The Robles Ranch house today is a long, slightly angled adobe structure that has experienced organic, incremental growth typical of the additive tradition of southern Arizona regional architecture. Oral history maintains that the ranch house began as two separate buildings, one possibly the stage station and the other the Robles residence. Over the years, the two buildings were linearly expanded until they were finally joined into today's ranch house. There are reported to be 17 rooms in the main house. Local residents claim this final "joining" occurred about 1949 when the Stevens were reported to have made improvements in the buildings. While additional observations and research are necessary to verify the building sequence of the structure, aerial photography suggests multiple buildings episodes judged from roof outlines. Recent exterior alterations include new stucco, new canales, a decorative burnt adobe entry, detached patio and pool and CMU planters around trees. In spite of its multiple room additions and the recent alterations, the Sonoran Territorial design has been maintained, and the building appears to have retained its essential architectural and historical integrity.
In conclusion, it may be argued that Robles Ranch is a significant historic site in Pima County that is eligible for the Arizona and National Registers of Historic Places. At this literal cross-roads, Sonoran and southern Arizona culture and economic development were brought together in ways that significantly shaped the broad patterns of southern Arizona history. More specifically, it is representative of activities and events that have shaped the development of the cattle industry, freighting, mining and travel in the Tucson area. The ranch house reflects a vernacular Sonoran style, and it is also representative of the regional architectural tradition in southern Arizona, where ranch houses grew in response to need and prosperity.
In 1989, Maurito Miguel Garcia and Francisco Garcia Jr. acquired the property, and in June 1996, the US Customs service filed a lis pendens for the property subject to suit for forfeit. After the property was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Pima County with the support of the Robles Junction community and in cooperation with the US Attorney’s Office purchased the parcel in January 1998. Sometime in early 1990 a family named Garcia purchased the ten acres that the house and corrals were on. They raised gaited horse and built the big barn that now houses the Clothing Bank/My Friends Closet.
The Garcias were involved in drugs. In 1996 Customs started proceedings to seize the property. Both sons were on the deed., One of the sons was convicted the other was found innocent thus making seizure impossible.In June 1996, the US Customs service filed a lis pendens for the property subject to suit for forfeit. After the property was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Pima County with the support of the Robles Junction community and in cooperation with the US Attorney’s Office purchased the parcel in January 1998. In 1996 Friends of Robles Ranch, a nonprofit, was formed by Marion Ethridge, Bob Miller, John Cathcart, Marion Whitfield, Pat King, Pat King, Dan Ethridge, and Rory Rake. “”Friends worked with the State Historical Preservation Organization to have the house and buildings declared historical. Pima County purchased the house and ten acres. At the same time an adjoining 5 acres was purchased for a Sheriff Substation.
In accordance with the Bond Improvement Program, approved by voters on May 20, 1997, the bond proj- ects for the rehabilitation and adaptive use of Robles Ranch and the new sheriff substation were initiated in 1998. Based on input from the community and from the sheriff, it was decided to co-locate the new sheriff substation at Robles Ranch. An additional five-acre parcel was acquired in October 1999, for a total of about 11 acres. The new sheriff substation, separate from the historic Robles Ranch, was designed to be compatible with the Sonoran style of the ranch house.
If you listen to the old-timers, they'll tell you that Three Points shouldn't even be called Three Points. They insist the correct name is Robles Junction, after Bernabe Robles. In 1864, at the age of 7, Robles crossed with his mother into Southern Arizona on donkeys, in search of a new home and new opportunities. Eventually, the family opened a market in Tucson, and Robles started a ranch in what was then a way-out desert west of town. Robles worked hard, acquired large tracts of land and got rich--an American success story. But oral and written accounts of early settlers tell of a man given to hard-core business tactics, and they include the charge that Robles loaned money to strapped ranchers, then took their land when they couldn't repay it. His methods reportedly made him few friends, and if history leaves footprints on the land--a sort of genetic trail for those who come later--then the trail from Three Points leads back to hardscrabble, tough-as-bad-jerky Robles.
The Historic Robles Ranch What was once the headquarters of one of the largest ranches in Arizona is located at Robles Junction (Three Points). The old headquarters buildings are north of the highway just as you come to Three Points. They sit among large old eucalyptus trees, with barns and corrals off to the side. The ranch house was established in 1882, as a stage stop, by Bernabe' Robles, who operated a stage line from Tucson to the mining town of Quijotoa on what later became the Papago and then the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Bernabe' Robles was born in Babiacara, Sonora in 1857. In 1864, when he was 7 years old, he moved with his family to Tucson. He established himself as a businessman early on by delivering bread for a local bakery. Prior to establishing the Robles Ranch, which he called Rancho Viejo, Senor Robles was engaged in the saloon business, the general merchandise business, and established a stage line to Quijotoa.
The stage stop was established in the 1880s as a water and rest stop for the horses at a point on the road to Quijotoa where the road to Altar, Sonora branched off to the south. A well was dug and several adobe buildings constructed at what is now the old headquarters. The stage, ranching complex, and the settlement that grew up around it soon became known as Robles Junction. By 1885, the copper, silver, and gold views were exhausted at Quijotoa with a consequent downtown in freighting and stage business. Robles then focused his efforts on building as extensive cattle operation. At the height of the enterprise, the ranch comprised over one million acres reaching from Florence, Arizona on the north to the Mexican border over 100 miles to the south, making it one of the largest ranches in Southern Arizona at the time.