Showing posts with label Geronimo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geronimo. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2009



As kids watching western movies we always saw the mounted cavalry riding in & out of their Forts. Big high wooden log pole walls with an assortment of buildings inside & an American flag flying proudly in the middle. It's a picture we carry in our minds every time the word Fort is mentioned. Just as in real ghost towns we can easily be disappointed when we finally reach an old town site or Fort. We're hoping to see a setting just as we remembered it from the movies. But time, the elements, & reality have taken their toll. Several buildings & a water tank still remain somewhat intact at Fort Rucker but historic Fort Bowie is only left with it's walls & foundations. I would recommend anyone going to Fort Bowie to eat an extra bowl of Cheerios in the morning, drive through the Apache Pass from the north or northwest as we did & begin your long historic hike into the Fort from a parking lot on the south side of Apache Pass road.
TROOPS WERE HOUSED WITHIN THESE BARRACK WALLS (Note: You will notice that the tops of the old walls are rounded & a different color. To prevent the elements from eroding the original walls any further a mixture of special cement had to be applied to the tops of them to prevent wind & rain from breaking the walls down any further.) ALL THAT'S LEFT OF THE ONCE ELOQUENT POST COMMANDER'S QUARTERS
As with walking the grounds of old ghost towns I find there is an overall feeling that comes over a person. If your with a group of people though you will probably not pick up that feeling. I suppose it's akin to wandering through an old cemetery. Very quiet, very peaceful, & your always aware of a presence & a time in history that you have been reading or hearing about since a child. Try as you may you cannot comprehend the magnitude of events which took place on the ground you are standing upon or the walls you are seeing or the scattered bits of weathered wood & broken foundation stones laying in the tall grass at your feet. To think that a mighty Fort once stood here, or a complete town or a huge battle took place on this very spot many years ago can be overwhelming. When I visited Custer's Little Bighorn battlefield in Montana back in 1993 I felt that. And on March 11 of 2009 I felt it once more as we headed through the Apache Pass to a parking lot & then off on a long winding path in search of old Fort Bowie. APACHE LEADER GERONIMO WAS HELD CAPTIVE WITHIN THIS BUILDING'S WALLS
Might be a mile into the Fort but the path leads you through a valley of history. The old Butterfield Stage line ran through here on it's way from the east to California. Wagon wheel ruts are still visibile in the ground. Running gun battles & confrontations between the Cavalry & the Chiricahua Apache Indians took place here in this scenic valley. A meeting with the Apache leader Cochise was arranged. A cemetery, the foundation ruins of an old stagecoach stop near where the meeting & battle took place between Indians & Cavalry. It is a path through history. Go alone or with one other quiet person & let the trail through the little valley whisper you it's tales. STONE WALL RUINS OF THE 'FIRST' FORT BOWIE
Wikipedia info on FORT BOWIE
My blog of our day can be found here...... FORT BOWIE BLOG
My photos of our day are here.........FORT BOWIE PHOTOS

GROANER'S CORNER:(( Everyone seems normal..........until you get to know them!!

The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...AL.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009



A bit of cloud cover this morning but by 9 a.m. it had given way to a big bright sun filled Arizona day. Kelly had a Yoga class this morning scheduled for 10:30 but decided to cancel it because I was whining so much about having to sit around doing nothing for another day. By 9:30 I was happily in the car & we were headed north up Sulphur Springs Valley to Apache Pass & Fort Bowie. Ya know guys, sometimes whining really helps:))FORT BOWIE'S CEMETRY

It's about an hours drive from Elfrida & after we turned east off highway 181 the road changed to a red clay made soft by the rain a couple days ago. Hadn't been graded yet & a bit rough in spots but no problem for the Santa Fe. To reach Fort Bowie we had to go through the historic Apache Pass. What a beautiful place this is. Stopped at the spot where a massacre had taken place when a band of Apache Indians had ambushed a wagon train on the old Butterfield Stage route. Check our web album for details & pictures. The Pass led down a winding dirt road to a parking lot trail head & it was from here that we began our scenic hike along an easy trail for one & a half miles to Fort Bowie. This is a totally beautiful area of hills, canyons, plains, grasslands, & towering mountain ranges. Arizona is a fascinating place & around every corner is a new adventure.
We left the parking lot on foot & hit the trail about 11. It would be about 5 hours before we would made it back to the car again. The trail to the fort is rich in history. The Fort Bowie Cemetery, the ruins of the Apache Pass Stage Station, site of the Battle of Apache Pass, & Apache Springs which was the focal point for hundreds of years for people moving through the area needing water. It is this very spot where the whole history of the area revolves. Cochise drank water here, Geronimo drank water here. The spring is alive with the ghosts of countless parched & dusty travelers. All these points are along the trail & at the Apache Pass Stage Station you can see where Cochise met with the American Calvary's 2nd Lt George Bascom & where an ensuing battle took place. Further up the trail is the site where the Apache's attacked the rear of a wagon train & another major battle took place. All these historic sites are clearly marked with reader boards so I photographed each reader board & then took a picture beside it of the area the reader board was describing. This is one of the things that made this hike the best one we've been on so far because everything is so clearly marked. I hesitate to tell you how many photos I took to-day but if you go to our web albums you will see all the things I have described. This is truly a great hike & if your into old west history I recommend you walk this trail from the parking lot north of the fort.
After Apache Springs it's a short distance to the ruins of the first Fort Bowie so we took a side trail & hiked up the hill. Many old stone foundations & the 2nd Fort Bowie is about three quarters of a mile beyond. The photos of the reader boards tell the stories of why the Fort was first built here & why it was later decided to move it's location. We moved on from the old ruins & ghosts to the 2nd Fort Bowie. It was far bigger than I had imagined & we spent an hour just walking around looking at what's left of the Fort. Foundations & sections of walls that have been sealed to prevent further deterioration. All the ruins are clearly marked so you don't have to guess what things are. The surrounding hillsides & mountains form a perfect backdrop to the old legendary ruins. Geronimo once walked these grounds. He was brought here after his surrender in Skeleton Canyon to the south & there is a photograph of him on the parade ground talking to his people. Many soldiers were stationed here & I'm sure their ghosts still roam the ruins. A DOOR LEADS INTO THE CALVARY'S BARRACKS AT THE SECOND FORT BOWIE

We stopped into the visitor's center/ranger station for a brief rest before starting the long trek back to the car on a different trail. The return path starts behind the visitors center & is a steep rocky climb up to a summit point that overlooks the Fort below. Beautiful views in all directions from up there. We stopped at a bench beside a bronze plaque & had our last look back on the Fort far below. I always feel sad at times like that because I know it's not likely I will ever pass that way again. From this point we stayed on the ridge trail & headed down from the summit via a bunch of switch backs. We were beginning to tire by this point because we had been on the trail for over 4 hours. Took us about 40 minutes to finally reach the parking lot & our car. As usual the last 2 or 3 hundred yards were the toughest. Flopped into the soft Santa Fe seats, unwrapped our peanut butter sandwiches, poured the thermos coffee, cranked up the car & headed for home.
What a great day this turned out to be & I think it was the best hike we have had so far on our trip. The scenery was spectacular & the history just reaches out & grabs you every step of the way. This was my favorite kind of day & to-night as I sit here typing this my legs are so sore I just might have to trade them in for new ones, but no matter, what a great day, what a great day. And it all started out with a little whining..................................:)) A LAST LOOK BACK AT FORT BOWIE BELOW

Thursday, March 05, 2009



Cloud cover first thing this morning assured us the sun was going to leave us alone for the day. We actually got off to an earlier start as we headed north up the Sulphur Springs Valley. HERDS OF BIRDS HEADING TO THEIR EARLY MORNING FEEDING AREA

First stop was for gas in Elfrida followed by a second stop for coffee to go before our third stop at the Library. We had to make a U-turn before we got to the Library though. While I was filling up with gas Kelly had taken two small bags of garbage out of the back seat & dropped them into a trash bin at the service station.....except one of those bags wasn't trash!! Yep, she mistakenly threw the bag of Library books & DVD's in the trash. Oh, how sweet it is that something was FINALLY not my fault:)) Retrieved the bag with no problem & off we went to the Library. PEARCE'S GOLD MINING HILL

Our first main destination this morning was the ghost town of Pearce just south of Sunsites which in turn is southeast of Benson Arizona. The large mining scarred hill just east of Pearce is the first thing we saw & it was obvious the hill had been used for mining with traces of roadways crisscrossing the slopes. Cement or adobe buildings terraced up the hill in one area accounting for a third of the hillside. The town of Pearce & what's left of it lay a short distance away to the northwest. It is still an active town & boasts more original buildings than Tombstone. Key word there is...original. The General Store is still intact & serves more as a museum. It is only open 2 days a year for tours. Across the road is the original Post Office & beside that a small gift & pottery shop. The lady owner inside was very friendly with a wealth of information on Pearce. Said Pearce was the largest gold strike in Arizona history back in the 1890's. Said it literally happened overnight & resulted in emptying Tombstone for a time. People flooded over the Dragoon mountains from Tombstone with some even transporting houses with them. At some point a disastrous flood occurred in the mine killing many miners. This is what I found on the internet about Pearce...."John Pearce, a rancher, struck gold in this vicinity in 1894 and the Commonwealth Mine was begun. The railroad station opened in 1903. For several years Pearce and his wife lived in Tombstone where he was a miner and she managed a boardinghouse. They saved their money and began a ranch in the Sulphur Springs Valley. It was while riding the range that Pearce stopped to rest at the top of a small hill and here he discovered rich ore. Pearce sold out for $250,000. The peak of production at the mine was reached in 1896. However, the mine was worked until 1904 when shaft cave-ins caused a shutdown. With the erection of a cyanide plant in 1905, the mine went back into operation. It is now inactive." Post Office est. March 6, 1896. THE GENERAL STORE IS NOW A MUSEUM ONLY OPEN 2 DAYS A YEAR

No ghost town visit is complete without a trip to the local cemetery so we headed a short distance west until we found it. The cemetery is still being used so the old pioneers & miners are mixed in with newer folks. Sign inside the gate says Abraham Lincoln's bodyguard is buried here as well as some Confederate soldiers. I did find one of the soldiers. PEARCE'S CEMETERY WITH THE DRAGOON MOUNTAINS & COCHISE'S STRONGHOLD IN THE BACKGROUND

From Pearce we made our way north stopping briefly for some pictures of an old Helicopter bone yard along the way. A lot of them appeared to be out of service Coast Guard choppers. There is also an active helicopter service there as well I think.AN OLD HELICOPTER BONE YARD

Driving north on highway 191 we were flanked by the mighty & mysterious Chiricahua Mountains off to our right & the jagged Dragoon mountain range on our left with the hauntingly ominous Cochise Stronghold ever present & ever vigilant. The cloud shrouded sky lent itself well to the legends of the mountains & it was one of those days you might have heard the Indians as they passed on their war ponies. It was one of those kinds of days when the winds could have coaxed the secrets out of the canyons. SAND HILL CRANES IN FLIGHT

We turned off 191 & headed west into Texas Canyon to the small settlement of Dragoon & beyond to a place recommended to us by several people. The Amerind Foundation (Amerind meaning American Indian) houses one of the finest private collections of Native American art & artifacts in the country. This is a very impressive building but I was only allowed to take pictures on the outside & could not take my cameras into the museum. I understand the reason but it always miffs me just the same when that occasionally happens.THE AMERIND
The museum houses a large collection of artifacts dating back many hundreds of years & more. Various southwest Indian cultures are well represented as the history of the land & it's people are displayed well in the galleries. Of particular interest to me was the Chiricahua Apaches who lived & died in this very area. Cochise, Geronimo, & others played out their lives here on these plains, deserts, plateaus, & mountains. I spent most of my time inside watching a DVD on the last days of Geronimo's futile struggle with the white man's ways, deceptions, & treacheries. The broken promises, the heartbreak, the end of an era. It was a sad time in American history for the North American Indian peoples. NICE SPAINISH ARCHITECTURE
t was early afternoon when we left the Amerind & headed back down the valley. Earlier we had heard some noises coming from the back of the car & later determined something was amiss with the driver's side rear wheel. By the time we got near home we could here some screeching & grinding when slowing down & turning corners. When brakes were applied it kinda stopped. I was at first sure it was a wheel bearing but then figured it was probably something to do with the brakes. And as always, I figured it was the end of the world & we would have to get the car over to Sierra Vista for an expensive brake job or something. Or throw the whole car in the garbage can & try to find another one:(( I'm real good at figuring worst case scenarios you know. With vanishing dollar signs in my head I got out to look at the wheel after we got home. Noticed right away something was different than the other wheel. Looked like a wear mark all around the outer hub & on closer inspection saw a stone lodged between the drum & something else. The stone had lodged itself there & was scraping on the turning drum. A screwdriver quickly & easily popped the stone out & short test drive around the yard confirmed the squeaking was gone & all was well in Al's world again. Oh dear, will wonders ever cease......................................... IT'S KELLY SCHMOOZING WITH THE LOCALS....(THAT'S KELLY ON THE LEFT:))
To-morrow........ "Time to clean the car!!!!"