Have you ever been hiking in the TucsonMountains, near the Yetman Wash, and encountered ruins from an old stone house? If you have, then you’ve come across the old homestead of the Bowen family. This iconic structure is located about 1.5 miles away from the JW Marriott at Starr Pass, which is the closest trail head to view the house. An out-and-back journey is only a 3 mile trip, and covers relatively flat ground, making it an excellent choice for a short hike. To the right is a close up of our map that Southwest Trekking made of the Tucson Mountain Park. The closest access to the Bowen’s Homestead is at the JW Marriott, but it can also be reached via the Lee Gensner/Starr Pass trail head located at the end of Clearwell Road. You can download our whole map off of this blog. Look to the right of the screen for a heading titled maps, and click on the link to open a pdf file. You can save it on your computer, print it out for later, or stop by the JW Marriott and pick one up on your way to the trail.
The house itself has an interesting history. The wife’s, Ruby Bowen, health was diminishing while living in the mid west, and it was suggested that a change in climate might be of some aid to her deteriorating health. The Bowen’s moved to Tucson in the late twenties from a small city outside of Chicago called Rockford. They soon set their sights on the Tucson Mountains, and decided to homestead the area in the early nineteen thirties. It was at this time that the husband, Sherry Bowen, who was previously a type setter, went to work constructing the house out of native stones that you see today. The Bowen’s eventually expanded their homestead to about 2,000 acres. Almost twenty years after arriving in Tucson, the Bowen’s left their property and moved to New York City where Sherry could continue his career as a typesetter. Their property was eventually included in the Tucson Mountain Park in 1983.
As you walk out to the house, try and imagine as if you were taking a stroll around your property. What an amazing area to call your home! It’s important to remember that back in the 1930′s, Tucson was a much smaller city and covered a much smaller surface area. Living out in the Tucson Mountains was pretty removed from the hustle and bustle (not to mention conveniences) of city life. The Tucson Mountains themselves housed a much higher population of deer and big horn sheep back then, and with that came more mountain lions. The wife kept a diary while they were homesteading the property which make references to the abundance of wildlife that was in the area.
Of course now the city of Tucson stretches right up to foothills of the Tucson Mountains, but thanks to the Bowen’s and Pima County, the Tucson Mountain Park is 2000 acres bigger and provides mountain bikers and hikers many miles to enjoy some of the thickest stands of Saguaro cactus found in the world.