The Santa Cruz River was the lifeblood of Tucson for early Native Americans, the Spanish Conquistadores and early American settlers. It languished for years and became dry most of the year as the water table dropped. It also became a neglected trench and trash heap. City leaders envisioned something better. By the early 1970s, the Army Corps of Engineers was studying the feasibility of channeling the river and creating a park. In 1977, work began. It is now a lush part of downtown and an integral part of The Loop bicycle and pedestrian trails.