People have an almost childlike perception that nothing much happened before they arrived in the Canoa Heritage Area... That's why we're here!

2019-20 Board of Directors

Dawn Morley President

Ellen Kurtz, Co-Founder/Secretary

Ralph Ellinwood, Co-Founder/Treasurer

Nancy Williams  Co-Founder/Director

Ann Manning (Fiegen)/Director

Leslie Manning (Woods-Hulse)/Director

Jim Feigen/Director   


2017 Canoa Ranch Highway Cleanup Board Volunteers

From left:

Cindy Brocious, Nancy Williams, Dan Brocious, Ralph Ellinwood/President, Bill Kurtz, Mel Williams, Lee Kurtz, Ellie Kurtz/Vice President, and Sandra Stone/Treasurer. 



     Our mission is to preserve, protect, restore, interpret,

and share the land, cultural influence, and history of the Canoa Heritage Area.

 Celebrating the peoples of the Santa Cruz River!

   Canoa is the land of the Hohokam, O'odham,

Yoeme (Yaqui), Apache, Spanish, Mexican, and

Anglo-American - from pre-Columbian times to the present.

     Since 1994, Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation (FOC)

has dedicated their efforts to preserving the land,

history and culture located within the Manning's  335,000 acre Historic Canoa Ranching Empire.


    Learning and Sharing is a Tradition!

    Lending a hand to your neighbor and sharing resources has always been  essential to survival in the rural communities of the Canoa Heritage Area.  


     Incorporating in 2010, FOC is an all volunteer  organization, recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization under the U.S. tax code, so donations and sponsorships are tax-deductible up to amounts specified by law.

     The Character of Affairs of the corporation is to

engage in fundraising that continues our outreach efforts, and in the collection of historic personal property, memorabilia, preservation of photographic and written records, and preservation of the memories of persons associated with the communities that shared the land  in the Canoa Heritage Area.


     The Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the experience of the visitor to Canoa with their “VISIT CANOA” projects, which educate and engage the public.


     Further, the corporation will support partnerships that help implement the Historic Canoa Ranch Master Plan, for the restoration of the 4,700 acre Historic Canoa Ranch property owned by Pima County.

     Tax deductible contributions to Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation can be mailed to: 

Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation

P.O. Box 40158

Tucson, AZ  85717

Please click on the Donate button to make a contribution! 

Your donations help us continue our

outreach efforts, and provide hands-on

education programs in leadership, preservation,

history & culture for children and adults regardless 

of age, race or income levels.!



We appreciate your support!

FOC 10 years of service.jpg
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Stay and play!

Because you can't see it all

in a day!


Cash and donations solicited by Pima County at the Hacienda de la Canoa (Historic Canoa Ranch) property are not overseen by, and do not benefit the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation.  


Community honors Ellie Kurtz at the White Elephant Parade 2019!

Left: Ellie and Bill Riding in Style in Lois's 1949 DeSoto Custom Convertible known as the "Honeymoon Car!"

Below: Volunteers Ginny Prest, Josephine Bryant, Maureen McCarthy, Bill Kurtz, Ellie Kurtz, Lois Sostarich, Dawn Morley, Nancy Williams 2019

 Co-Founder Ellie Kurtz

shares her accounting of the past, present, and future of the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation...

I’ve been involved in saving and preserving the historic Rancho San Ignacio de la Canoa (Historic Canoa Ranch) since 1994, along with board members Nancy Williams, Ralph Ellinwood, Sandra Stone, Manning descendants, and community stakeholders.


As co-founders of the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation (FOC) that we established in 2010, we continue to preserve, protect, and share the land, cultural influence, and history of the Canoa Heritage Area.


Located midway between Tucson and Nogales, the ranch was slated for development by Fairfield Homes, but because of the collaborative efforts of local residents, and stakeholder organizations, 4,800 acres of the original ranch headquarters were saved when voters awarded a bond in 1997 for the ranch to be preserved by Pima County.  100 acres were recently sold to make way for the new hospital.


This ranch has a long prehistory and history dating back over 14,000 years because of permanent available water. It was a land grant of 17,000 acres granted by Spain in 1819 and when Mexico gained its independence in 1820 the grant continued to be recognized. 


When the United States made the Gadsden Purchase of this area in 1852 the grant continued to be recognized by the U.S.

In 1912 Tucson’s first Mayor, Levi Manning, purchased the San Ignacio de la Canoa Land grant, and along with his son Howell Manning Sr., built a cattle ranching empire, encompassing 335,000 acres stretching west to Baboquivari Peak.  


It was a gathering place for many celebrities from Hollywood and all over the world. The scene in the movie "Oklahoma” of the "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" was filmed at the lake at the ranch.


When the heir to the ranch Howell Manning Jr., was killed two days before Christmas in 1952 by a drunken driver it went into decline and went through several owners. 


Today, Pima County continues the restoration project at the original hedquarters of the Historic Canoa Ranch (Hacienda de la Canoa) where the public has daily access to areas along the Anza Trail, and birders are enjoying rare sightings at the newly restored Canoa Lake.  Tours of the restored buildings are available by reservation through Pima County.*

My husband of over 58 years, Bill, a retired exploration geologist, and I have collected a sizeable library of over 2,000 books, maps and artifacts relating to the area.

At 88, we wish to offer, on permanent loan, this collection to Pima County.  Our hopes are that it be located in the old Salcido home on the ranch property. 


We are currently in the process of developing partnerships to help raise funds for the Salcido-Amarillas Western Research Library and Museum (SAWRL).  Pima County estimates it will cost around $350,000 to restore.


With the help of Ray Harrison and other dedicated volunteers, we’ve nearly completed the electronic cataloging, so the collection is searchable by the public through the Pima County Library website.  Free e-books are already available on our website.


FOC Co-Founder Nancy Williams, Ann (Manning) Fiegen, husband Jim, and cousin Ralph Ellinwood continue to work on the Canoa Speaks video preservation project.  Videos are posted on our website as they are produced.


Another project is dedicated to the Tohono O’odham by the FOC, and was directed by President Dawn Morley.   The “Evolution of Canoa” is a colorful display that shares fun facts, and 14,000 years of everything Canoa on twelve interpretative panels.  Our area’s newest attraction is open to the public 24/7 and is located at the Canoa Ranch rest areas on I-19

*Notice:   FOC is all volunteer, and an Internal Revenue Service approved non-profit tax exempt 501[c]3 Arizona corporation, our EIN is 27-3296178.


FOC does not accept, or solicit contributions on behalf of Pima County for the Hacienda de la Canoa (Historic Canoa Ranch) property.  Cash and donations solicited by Pima County at the Hacienda de la Canoa property are not overseen by, and do not benefit the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation. 


For more information on how you can become involved with FOC, or to become a SAWRL volunteer, contact Ellen Kurtz at or go to

Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation



Friends of Canoa does not accept, or solicit contributions on behalf of Pima County for the Historic Canoa Ranch property.

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