The University of Arizona

National Historical Landmark


America's only 3-times-designated National Historical Landmark


National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places that are not owned by the United States but designated by the Secretary of the Interior. While there are many historic places across the nation, fewer than 2,500 places bear this coveted National distinction. Tumamoc has been awarded it three separate times.

Effie Spalding measures saguaro ribs
1976 — The buildings of the first decade of The Desert Botanical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the small permanent ecology study plots of that time receive the designation. The pioneering plant ecologists who began investigations on the Hill in 1903 discovered how plants survive and reproduce in the extreme heat and dryness of a desert. They developed the first professional journal of ecology in North America (now called Ecology) and they constituted seven of the fifty founders of the Ecological Society of America in 1915.

1987 — In recognition of the importance of the entire entire ecological reservation to the work of Tumamoc from at least 1906, all its 860 acres become part of the Landmark. This is the world's first restoration ecology project.

2010 — In recognition of the rich and hallowed history of our indigenous cultures on the land, of the abundance of their artifacts, their hundreds of pictographs, the ancient settlement on the mesa top, the massive 2-km long stone wall they built to surround that settlement, and their continued reverence for Tumamoc Hill, the land's 860 acres take on the additional designation Tumamoc Hill Archaeological District of the United States of America.

Unlike most National Historical Landmarks, Tumamoc is more than a museum. It continues its original work and is also developing new themes to expand its attention to today's ecological challenges.