The History of Rocky Point


Rocky Point, otherwise known as Puerto Penasco, has a lot of old school charm. It’s brimming with history, and just one of the many of reasons you’ll be intrigued to visit. Here’s a brief overview of how this town came to be.

It’s a long-held notion that Rocky Point and South America were inhabited by Native Indians. Yet, in recent years, historians and archaeologists have discovered nomads from the Pacific and Atlantic regions. Fast forward to:

The Ice Age – after what historians and geologists study to be the last ice age, it’s believed that Asian groups roamed Puerto Penasco’s landscapes in search of food and places to settle down.

Trading – some thousands of years ago, a trading ring in the Ajo Valley and Puerto Penasco region was formed. The landscape here was entirely different, as fauna and flora flourished, as opposed to the barren desert seen along the current shores. How do historians know this? The answer lies in the tools and relics found under the surface – telling a bit of history from some 20,000 years ago.

More Trading – approximately 700 to 1500 AD, the relics of history continue to tell the story of trade – a peaceful one at that, between varied tribes. The Indians too, travelled from what is now Arizona, to Puerto Penasco in search of seafood – which is still in abundance today.

The Spanish Conquest – after Columbus’ arrival in the “New World”, Puerto Penasco was relatively a hidden gem, until 1698, when Padre Kino met and recorded the Papago tribe of Indians. In his writings, he noted their cannibalistic traditions. His customs from Spain, in terms of skills to live off the land, were shared with this tribe, according to his records. One notable skill was pearl harvesting, where much of the supplies were sent back to Spain.

How Did the Papago Tribe of Puerto Penasco Look?

When we look in to Native history, we’re often fascinated by their features. Unlike other Native Indians in other locations, the Papago tribe were recorded to be thin and tall!

The Age of Commerce and Mass Scale Trade

Following the discovery of rich resources in the area, stretching all the way to Arizona, mining of silver and gold ore was done on a mass scale. Today, we may curl up in laughter at the names Puerto Penasco was known by, as it sounds like something from a pirate movie, but that was the reality at the time.
Here are a few of the names:

  • Doin Biddin Ye Francia
  • Englash Devils O’ Hell
  • Treachry
  • Privateers’ in the Sea of Cortez
  • Villeanous Skum
  • Ye Likesly Spot


The 1800s

Puerto Penasco is located in Mexico, and the independent spirit still lives on today. The Mexican Priest at the time, Miguel Hidalgo, fought valiantly against Spanish conquistadors. Ultimately though, his fate was not a good one, as he was beheaded in the town’s square. A war went on between the two parties for almost a decade, until the Treaty of Cordoba was signed, and Mexico officially received its Independence from Spain.

That wasn’t the end of the story though: Mexico began fighting its own internal battle for power, and Puerto Penasco was mostly overlooked, until the revolution in the 1900s, when the Old Town Harbor was used as a base for the army.
After the Revolution, John Richardson, an American citizen, built the area’s first hotel. If you recall Prohibition, this opened up the floodgates for Americans to cross the border, and indulge in alcohol – in Puerto Penasco.

With its growing popularity, a fishing village was formed. A railroad was built, and other plans docked. But its faith as a fishing and tourist village was interrupted by Pearl Harbor. Soon after the attack, Puerto Penasco became a military base once more, where some of the building and weapons are still intact today. Following the war, massive developments took place, and sporadic surges in construction plans were owed to:

  • The rising shrimp agriculture in 1965.
  • A high school in 1969, along with the area’s first radio station.
  • Water and sewage lines were established in 1974.
  • Public facilities for health, fire, and law enforcement were established in 1979.
  • In the 1970s there was a surge in wealth, and many homes were built during this time.

After the 1980s the population, in most part, grew steadily, with predictable cycles of boom and bust in many industries. Puerto Penasco or Rocky Point however, has consistently been regarded as a tourist and fishing destination by thousands of visitors each year.