The Romero Ruin is a 15 acre site that was one of several large Hohokam villages in the Tucson Basin – it is located in what is now Catalina State Park. The settlement was continuously inhabited from A.D. 500 to 1450 and as many as 125 to 200 people may have lived at the settlement at its peak around A.D. 900. Around 1875 several buildings were built on the site as part of the Romero Ranch.
The Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail allows visitors to Catalina State Park to access the site. The 3/4 mile trail, constructed in the early 1990s, starts across the road from the Romero Ruins Ramada – approximately 0.8 miles down the road from the Ranger Station and Gift Shop. After crossing Sutherland Wash the trail climbs onto a hill where it winds in a loop thru the Romero Ruin. A number of informative signs along the loop provide interesting information about the site.
While the signs along the trail provide quite a bit of information there is additional information in Archaeology Southwest Magazine, Volume 27 Number 1, Winter 2013 which is an updated and expanded version of a 1996 booklet titled Archaeology in the Mountain Shadows: Exploring the Romero Ruin. These publications are short – 20 pages for the revised version – and provide concise, interesting and accessible information.
Built on top of the Hohokam settlement walls from the buildings of the Romero Ranch are still visible. Francisco and Victoriana Romero lived here briefly sometime around 1875.
The Ballcourt along the trail is the smaller of the two identified in the ruins. Hohokam Ballcourts have also been excavated in other locations around the Tucson Basin at Sleeping Snake, Hodges, Water World and Dakota Wash. Ballcourts are thought to have been an important link between settlements – people traveled for ball games and ceremonies and the visits probably provided opportunities for trading and finding marriage partners.
Many of the features of the ruin have, to my eye, disappeared back into the desert – without the interpretive signs and information in In the Mountain Shadows I would have had no idea about the history of this area…