Fort Lowell Museum – Tucson, Arizona

Fort Lowell Museum_1.jpgFort Lowell Museum – Tucson, Arizona

Enter the world of the military life on the Arizona frontier with a visit to the Fort Lowell Museum right in the heart of Tucson.

When it was first established in1866, on the outskirts of Tucson, it was called Camp Lowell (originally called just “Post at Tucson”) on land previously inhabited and used between 900 A.D. and 1250 A.D by a large community of the prehistoric Hohokam people, today known as the Hardy Due to unhealthy conditions of the city the army moved the post 7 mile northeast and established Fort Lowell in March, 1873. The role of Fort Lowell encompassed escorting wagon trains, protection of settlers, guarding supplies, patrolling the border and conducting offensive operations against the Western and Chiricahua Apache Indians. Troop strength at Fort Lowell averaged 130 officers and 239 enlisted men. Serving at Fort Lowell were companies representing the 2nd, 4th 5th and 6th Cavalry Regiments, and the 1st, 8th, and 12th Infantry Regiments. Much of the construction work on the Fort was done by the soldiers themselves.

The buildings at Fort Lowell reflected a Mexican Sonoran style of architecture. Buildings were built with think adobe walls, pine logs, and saguaro ribs supporting hard packed dirt roofs and wide hallways for ventilation.  The Fort grew to have approximately 30 adobe buildings, and included accommodations, a hospital, commissary, stables, trading store, guard house, kitchens, a large parade ground, and tree-lined sidewalks.

By the mid-1880s Eastern Anglo features such as porches, shutters and tin roofing were added. The troops kept in constant contact with Tucson through dinners, dances, band concerts, baseball games and by frequenting the numerous gambling halls and saloons.
With the end of the Apache wars the army saw no further need for Fort Lowell and in 1891 the post was abandoned.  Most of the Fort fell to ruin due to vandalism and the elements.

In 1900 three of the buildings were purchased to be used as a sanitarium.  They were the Officers’ Quarters and their kitchens.

Around 1928 the Harvey Adkins, whose family operated Adkins Steel and Tank Manufacturing Company from 1934 until 2006, bought the sanitarium and land. Harvey Adkins also built a small house on the site at the intersection of Craycroft and Fort Lowell roads, where he raised a family.

With the changes in the city during 1945 more of the buildings were lost and the only remaining buildings were in need of repair.  Currently to the west of the Fort Lowell Park the Commissary building and ruins of the hospital remain. The one intact Officers Quarters on the Adkins Steel parcel representing the most complete original structure from the 1870s Fort Lowell.

In 1978 the area, minus the land owned by the Adkins Steel and Tank Company was entered into the National Historic Register.

Since 1963 the Arizona Historical Society has operated a branch Museum at the Fort Lowell Historic Site.

Location: 2900 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, Arizona – The museum is located in Old Fort Lowell Park at the corner of Cracroft and Fort Lowell Road in Tucson.

Hours Wed – Sat 10am – 4pm. Walking tours, lectures, living history events are featured as special events.

Admission: 12 and under and AHS Members – Free

Students 12-18 yrs and  Seniors 60+ yrs – $2.00

Adults – $3.00


  1. Linda Adkins says:

    Harvey didn’t build the small house. Harvey’s son Marion built the small house for his wife Lovetta where they raised their 7 children. A very wonderful cozy house I migh add. (I am one of the grand children.) Please take care of this wonderful place.