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Overview and Orientation to Redington Pass

THIS LINK provides a brief overview and orientation to Redington Pass, its geography, geology and natural history as well as its human history and current governing jurisdictions. It also includes a summary of current land and recreational uses in the Pass and sets the context of future national, state and forest-wide trends. It is an excerpt from the Collaborative Area Management Plan (CAMP).


The Colorful Story of Redington Road

It began as a rough trail; a trail leading east over a natural saddle, between the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains, through a pass known as Cebadillo, and into the verdant San Pedro River Valley.

Hundreds of years ago, it was probably used by the Sabaipari, a tribe of about 2,000 who farmed the valley raising cotton, maize, wheat, beans, and melons until driven out by Apaches. In later years, it became a road, just as rough, but wider and more traveled as hopeful miners and farmers, fleeing outlaws, and the peripatetic Apaches, braved its dangers. Still later, it was a military road and stage route as more farmers and ranchers settled in the valley.

Although others had tried to establish and hold farms and ranches in the San Pedro Valley before, it was not until 1876 when a New Yorker named H.T. Redfield ventured into the area that anyone had been able to remain for long. Traveling alone, Redfield and his wife found their homesite about 33 miles northeast of Tucson and were later joined by their son. There they survived on a single bag of corn and an occasional wild turkey until their first crop was harvested. That first crop was good, the second was flooded out. They lived in constant fear of the Apaches. Still they held on. Soon other farmers and ranchers moved in and the settlement became known as Redfield. When a post office was established there in 1879, authorities rejected the name of Redfield for the town. The name Redington was suggested instead, and the old road became known as Redington Road.

Soldiers were sent out from Fort Lowell over Redington Road on frequent missions to protect the residents from the Apaches, but the town itself was wild and lawless despite its many solid citizens. Old records show that there were more killings there in the late 1800s than in any other community of its size in Southern Arizona. By the mid-1880s, Apaches were no longer a problem, but the drunken cowboys and desperate outlaws were.

In a period of drought and hard times in the 1880s, many residents gave up and left the valley. A newly-arrived Tucson resident, William Henry Bayless, who also owned other ranches in the area, began to buy up land at bargain prices and soon had enough to establish the 200,000 acre Carlink Ranch.

Although Tucson was the main source of supplies for the valley, Redington Road was often impassable. Travelers were forced to reach Tucson either through Oracle (70 miles when passable) or through Benson (100 miles). Gradually Redington Road fell into disuse despite frequent requests from residents for repairs. At last, on October 9, 1932, the Arizona Daily Star carried an article which began, "Tucson will be linked by a direct road through the mountains to Redington within a few weeks. Monday morning, a group of men who will be paid from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation funds lent to Arizona will begin work reconditioning the old stage road into the valley beyond the pass between the Rincon and Santa Catalina mountains."

Letters on file in the library of the Arizona Historical Society add a footnote to the story of Redington Road. In these letters, written in October, 1996, a sharp-eyed citizen points out to authorities that since the 1930's, the name Redington has been misspelled on official maps and street signs. An extra "d" had been added. Although the county engineer was reluctant to acknowledge the mistake, higher authority prevailed and the correction was made so that it will ever be: Redington Road.