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Alamos Historian Spoke at Museum of the West

Did you know that the legend of Zorro has a direct link to Scottsdale!? Or, do you know what Scottsdale has in common with the San Francisco gold rush!?

Álamos, Sonora, Mexico is the probable birthplace of Joaquin Murrieta aka “El Patrio” who was the inspiration for creating the character that we all know today as Zorro. Although it is difficult to track down the true facts and real origins, there is a baptism record on file in Álamos where a child by the name of Joaquin Murrieta was baptized in 1810. Scottsdale is a sister city with Álamos, Sonora, México.

On Thursday February 16th, the official historian of Álamos, presented at the Scottsdale Museum of the West about the relationship and influence that Álamos had in the Southwestern United States. The link with Zorro was only one of the topics. The event was co-sponored by the Museum and Scottsdale Sister Cities Association.

If you are familiar with the De Anza trail in Pima County that crosses through Tucson, then you should also know that the namesake for that trail comes from Juan Bautista De Anza Becerra Nieto. De Anza stopped in Álamos in 1775 on his way north, recruited a group of Spanish supporters and continued his expedition north, through what today is Tucson, Casa Grande and ended in northern California. He founded the mission of San Francisco de Asis in today’s San Francisco which locals know as ‘the bay area.’

In the year 1849, one year after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, when México lost a great part of its territory to the United States, the gold rush started and brought many hopefuls to strike gold in Northern California. Many of those hopefuls were several Alamenses that left Álamos and headed north to California looking for riches. They returned later back to México with less than what they came with.

Speaking of expensive minerals in the ground, the first Americans came to Álamos in the mid 1800s because of the silver mines that were generating massive wealth. Large mansions were built and many families enjoyed a time of abundance.

In the 1880’s came Porfirio Diaz, who was the Mexican President for 30 years. During his regime, the transcontinental railroad was built and spanned from Álamos up to Tucson and beyond. During this time, many wealthy families were sending their children to schools in California. As a consequence, the Mexican government built and opened schools across the state of Sonora.

After the “Porfiriatio” regime, the Mexican Revolution started and many residents from Álamos began an exodus to the northern states of Arizona and Álamos became a ghost town. The population was cut in half.

Fast forward to the 1950s when American tourists ‘rediscovered’ Álamos and began restoring the old and large mansions into beautiful modern homes, some of which are now used as charming hotels and restaurants welcoming international travelers.

The presentation by Dr. Holguin concluded with the showing of the official City of Alamos document designating Scottsdale as a sister city in 1969. Alamos was Scottsdale’s first sister city. In 1968-1969 the Scottsdale City Council sent three of its members to visit three Mexican cities to explore mutual compatibility for being sister cities. It was the history of Alamos and warm greetings of Alamos leaders that led the delegation to recommend this relationship be initiated.

In fact, the creation of this two-sister city connection was the first such relationship between any Arizona city and any city in Sonora, Mexico. This began a special bond between Arizona and it’s southern state, Sonora. It was about ten years later that Phoenix and Hermosillo became sister cities. Now several Arizona cities have sister cities in Sonora.

For more information about the Scottsdale Museum of the West, go to And for more information about Scottsdale’s sister cities, go to:

By Rene Bermudez


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