By J.J. Lamb
Ads and articles in newspapers from 1963 and ‘64 touted life in “New Tucson” as having all of the perfect ingredients to make your ‘suburban living dream come true.’ “Ingredients” included a 9-hole golf course, five-years of free country club membership, use of an Olympic size pool, a restaurant, commercial area (all at Corona), horse property (Andrada Ranch Estates), a post office in Vail, and two places of worship – the, then new, Baptist Church, and 1935 Shrine of Santa Rita in the Desert. There was even free furniture. The icing on the cake was a mile-long lake for fishing and boating at Rancho del Lago. All of this in “New Tucson”. Horizon Corporation’s informative ads and brochures reminded prospective buyers that “New Tucson” was a great place to live, but, also, an “Opportunity in the Path of Tucson Growth.” Purchasing a home or lot was a great investment.
Development plans for the area east of Tucson, in the Vail School District, took a leap forward when Joseph Timon’s Horizon Corporation acquired a controlling interest in land around Corona in 1963. They already had projects taking shape at Rancho del Lago and were launching Andrada Ranch Estates in the New Tucson addition along Wentworth Road. Linking the three areas into one, that he called “New Tucson,” was a stretch. There weren’t that many residents yet, no incorporated areas, and “New Tucson” could provide a comprehensive marketing identity for the areas Timon was developing. His Horizon Corporation now had complete control over 16,000 acres of deeded land and 23,210 acres of state and federal leased land. The holdings included the Day Ranch, La Posta Quemada, headquartered just a mile south of Colossal Cave, Rancho del Lago, Andrada Ranch Estates three miles south of I10, and lands along Houghton Road, from I10 south to Corona.
The new Corona addition included the fledgling dream of the Baptist General Convention of Arizona. The Baptist Golden Years Community was going to be “where God’s people can live in God’s country” in their retirement. A place where homeowners could “Put this view out the picture window of your home in Corona de Tucson.” When plans didn’t come to pass, and things went south, Joseph Timon and partners seized the opportunity to add Corona to their in-progress development plans that stretched from the1930s Rancho del Lago Estate, south to “New Tucson” and west to include Corona de Tucson. Joseph once advised his son to develop so that potential buyers would be driving to work and returning home with the sun at their backs, and, to never get emotionally attached to a property or place that was being developed. Joseph did, however, take his son fishing in the beautiful lake at Rancho del Lago.
Marketing events were a constant for “New Tucson:” barbeques, free golf, music, raffles for toasters and more, and even Tucson’s Channel 9 Marshall KGUN for the kids! Land was donated to help bring the Pima County Fairgrounds to the area. In 1965, Horizon Corporation advertised that they had the “Best Golf Course,” with the added benefit that taxes were 60% lower outside of Tucson School District #1. Wide streets, divided by medians, with native vegetation, graced many areas. A lighted water feature crafted from large clay pipes welcomed residents to Corona de Tucson. But, despite their marketing efforts to unify the development areas under one name, the name “New Tucson” was abandoned. An October 22nd article in the Arizona Daily Star announced that the “New Tucson Golf Course is no more. From now on, the nine-hole golf course will be known as Corona Golf and Country Club.”
In 2022 developers and realtors still market the mountain views, star-studded night sky, and desert landscape. New residents continue to move to the Vail and Corona area, once dubbed “New Tucson”. Even as many of the wide-open spaces that we love disappear, we welcome our new neighbors – after all, we all love the same things about this place. None of the areas that Joseph Timon tried to rename “New Tucson” for marketing purposes have incorporated, and, Corona and Vail continue to have a strong sense of identity. Andrada Ranch Estates, the New Tucson addition, is located in between them both.
J.J. Lamb is President & CEO of Vail Preservation Society. A U of A graduate, her family has lived in Vail since 1971. She was named an Arizona Culturekeeper in 2011 and an Arizona Friend of the Humanities in 2020.