Rita Station and Arizona Military Institute
Today the UA Tech Park is just south of the site where Rita Station and the Arizona Military Institute once stood. Rita Station was a section house built circa 1912 to service the newly completed El Paso & Southwestern Railroad to Tucson. In 1929, the Arizona Military Institute was built adjacent to Rita Station and was dependent on its well water. In 1979, IBM built Storage Systems Division facility adjacent to the site of the defunct military institute and decommissioned Rita Station.
Backstory and Context
Constriction of the Arizona Military Institute was completed in September of 1929 near Rita Station.2 Rita Station was built as a service point along the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad main line circa 1912. In 1924, El Paso & Southwestern Railroad merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad.3 Rita Station was one of many service points along the rail lines. Services points, such as Rita Station, provided water, coal, and other vital supplies for steam locomotives while also providing living quarters for workers and their families in section houses. Service points and section houses were common along North American railways starting in the 1880s and were phased out entirely by the 1970s.4
Built on the outskirts of Tucson, the Arizona Military Institute relied on the well dug by the Southern Pacific Railroad at Rita Station for water.
The Arizona Military Institute is now defunct. Rita Station was closed sometime between 1940 and 1970; new diesel locomotives did not require the frequent water resupplies that had necessitated the building of Section Houses between 1880 and 1940.
Immediately south of the site in 1979, IBM completed construction of their state-of-the-art facility for its Storage Systems Division. In 1994, the University of Arizona purchased the site from IBM and created the UA Tech Park.5
2 Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), September 01, 1929. Page 6.
3 El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. June 7, 2017. Accessed January 26, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Paso_and_Southwestern_Railroad
4 Section house (railway). July 28, 2016. Accessed January 26, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_house_(railway).
5 Accessed January 26, 2018. https://techparks.arizona.edu/about-us/history.