There is evidence of irrigation canals dating back 4,000 years in present-day Marana, near the confluence of the Rillito Creek and the Santa Cruz River in Southern Marana. The Santa Cruz has been the lifeblood of agriculture in the region for millennia, and centuries after these ancient peoples, the Hohokam used irrigation canals to supply their villages in the Santa Cruz’s floodplain. Higher in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains, they used rudimentary dams, as well as channels, to utilize the water flowing off of the Tortolitas down towards the Santa Cruz.
Modern agriculture began in Marana in the late 1880’s, about 90 years before the Town of Marana was incorporated. Cotton and wheat, both introduced centuries before by the Spanish conquistadors, grew very well in the Sonoran Desert environment, and laid the groundwork for the modern farms and ranches that make up what is now Northwest Marana.
Although Marana is now a modern, developing community, agriculture remains an important industry and a big part of our community’s identity and spirit.