City Week

Reliving Railroad History

The Silver Spike Festival: 133rd Anniversary of the Railroad in Tucson

9 a.m., Sunday, March 17

Historic Railroad Depot, 414 N. Toole Ave.


On March 17, 1880, Tucsonans gathered along what is known today as Toole Avenue to welcome the first railroad train ever to chug into the city. Among the spectators were Pinckney R. Tully and Estevan Ochoa, whose freight operation made them two of the city's prominent business owners.

Although concerned about the impact such a competitor would have on their business, the two decided to put the welfare of Tucsonans first and supported the coming of the railroad.

"So they were very wise and very upstanding citizens," said Ken Karrels, chairman of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. "They put the city's interest ahead of their financial interest."

This Sunday, the great-great-grandsons of Ochoa and Tully, Peter Ochoa and Philip Richard Tully, will be helping to re-enact the 1880 celebration of the railroad's arrival, and current Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will play the part of the city's mayor at the time, Bob Leatherwood.

"We're giving history a future," Karrels said. "It's important to honor these people who made a significant impact on our city's destiny. ... it was an important milestone in Tucson's history."

The coming of the railroad changed the city's culture permanently by bringing goods and visitors from California to Tucson much faster. Before the railroad, everything was delivered by horse and wagon, Karrels said.

The original silver spike used to celebrate the arrival in 1880 will be on display at the festival, along with antique cars, including a 1917 Model-T Ford. After the re-enactment, Rothschild will leave the event in one of the antique cars to join the St. Patrick's Day Parade.


the re-enactment and parking are free.


Poetry's Youth Revival

Arizona Poetry Out Loud Regional Finals

1 p.m., Saturday, March 2

The University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St.


Anyone who believes poetry is dead should visit some of Tucson's high school classrooms, where the works of classic and contemporary writers alike are being honored by students participating in the nationwide Poetry Out Loud competition.

For the third year, the University of Arizona Poetry Center will host the regional finals of the program, which aims to "introduce the classic repertoire of poetry" to young people, according to Renee Angle, program coordinator for the center.

Twenty to 25 students representing more than 14 Tucson-area high schools will recite their chosen poem for a panel of judges, who will score them on accuracy, presence, voice and articulation, level of difficulty and other criteria. The top three scorers will earn a trip to the state finals in Phoenix on March 20 to vie for a spot in the national finals.

Tucson competitors have done well in the program since its inception, using the power of the spoken word to connect with their audiences.

"Out of the last five years the Southern Arizona region has been participating, four of the state finalists have been from Tucson," Angle said. "We're a really strong, competitive region for the state."

The event, administered through a partnership with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, will also include an appearance by Logan Phillips, co-founder of the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and one of the "teaching artists" who coach students in the early stages of the competition.

Staying true to the mission of the Poetry Center, the competition will provide a free means of witnessing the "interesting and creative ways" new generations interpret poetry.

"Once you see it, it's contagious," Angle said.


Protecting a Valuable Resource

Water Resources Research Center Conference

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 5

UA Student Union Memorial Center, North Ballroom


Water security impacts every person on the planet, and the UA Water Resources Research Center is confronting the issue head-on at its conference this year.

"Water Security From the Ground Up" is meant to capture the broad nature of our water issues, with the future of the Colorado River Basin and the impact of climate change on the agenda.

Speakers from around the region will be on hand to discuss the latest development in their area of water study.

Anthony Cox, representing the Paris-based OECD Environment Directorate, will deliver the keynote address, on the global dimensions of water security.

Sharon Megdal, director of the UA's Water Resources Research Center, said the goal of the conference is to provide both the experts and others who want to learn more about the future of our water supply with timely and compelling information.

"Our conferences are not academic-style conferences," Megdal said. "They're meant to be geared to a wide variety of people with a wide variety of backgrounds."

Young people represent a valuable part of the sought-after audience, prompting the creation of a student poster contest to be held at the halfway point of the conference. Students whose posters are judged best at addressing the question "What does water security mean to you?" will win cash prizes.

Question-and-answer sessions and a panel will also serve to engage audience members and address concerns not covered by the speakers.

"Right now we don't have a crisis, which is the good news," Megdal said. "We don't want to wait until a crisis to address some of these issues."

General admission to the conference is $105. The cost is $35 for students. Registration must be completed in advance through the WRRC website, and Thursday, Feb. 28, is the last day for registration.


Beyond the 'Door of No Return'

"Dance with Games, Strings and Rhythms"A Black History Month Cultural Celebration

6:30 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 1; 2 ,3, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 2

Dunbar Cultural Center, 325 W. Second St.


When African slaves were forced onto ships headed to the Americas, they went through what was known as the "door of no return." The Barbea Williams Performing Company hopes to take you back through that door to explore an African culture that is rarely taught in the U.S. When coming to the Americas, Africans brought with them games, dances and stories. Williams has created a dance piece that incorporates all three into a storyline aimed at teaching life lessons that "were established in the traditional African society.""You're going to feel very connected in terms of the story that's being told, the dance that takes us to the Americas. It's all tied in together," Williams said.

Many of the African stories being told were lost over time but have been rediscovered. Williams' goal is to share Africa's contribution to the world with people in the U.S.

"It gives you a perspective on Africa that we have not had in our lifetime and we're just beginning to get," Williams said. "It breaks down a lot of misconceptions, of blatant lies. It's nice to be able to tell stories like this. It takes us behind and beyond that door of no return."

The performance will begin with a workshop in which guests will learn about African culture and learn how to get involved in the story.

Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. At the door, they're $12 and $7.


Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly