Saturday, December 17, 2016
This post is number one in a series of posts I am doing which highlights the Apache experience in the Southwest.
Directions: To reach Fort Bowie Historical Park from Tucson, Arizona, take Interstate 10 east to Bowie, Arizona, Exit the interstate and drive downtown looking for the signs showing the turn off for the fort. This road is passable to all vehicles and there is only about 1 mile of dirt road travel.
Short history: The Butterfield Overland Stage Rout was a stage coach service starting in Memphis, Tennessee and Saint Louis, Missouri, and ending in San Fransisco, California. This route was built as a way to better connect the east and west coasts (Info from www.wikipedia.com). In Southeastern Arizona, water is a scarce resource and Apache Springs was an important water source before travelers crossed the Dos Cabesas Mountains by way of Apache Pass.
Prior to the Bascom Affair, the great Apache Chief Cochise generally left U.S.travelers alone preferring to raid the provinces of Sonora and Chihuahua in northern Mexico. This would change in 1861 because of a pivotal event in Arizona history called the Bascom Affair. In 1861, Cochise and some of his followers were summoned near present day Apache Spring by Lt. Bascom for a meeting regarding the kidnapping of a little boy. Bascom accused Cochise and the Chiricahua Apaches of the kidnapping. Cochise denied any involvement, however, Bascom did not believe him and announced his intention to detain the Apaches until the return of the boy. Cochise escaped by cutting a hole in the tent and running for the hills. After escaping Cochise's men took a number of hostages in an attempt to negotiate the release of his band members. Bascom refused and over time Cochise became enraged which led Cochise to kill the American hostages. Bascom responded by hanging all six Apaches.
The Bascom Affair had a negative effect on Apache-American relations. Cochise infuriated by the death of his brother and fellow Apaches, responded by raiding Butterfield stage coaches as well ranches throughout southern Arizona. As a response of the raiding, the U.S. Army established Camp Bowie to protect Apache Springs, travelers and southern Arizona residents from Apache depredations. After Cochise's death in 1877, the Apaches were removed from the Chiricahua Mountains to the San Carlos Reservation along the Salt River. Many Apaches did not want to be confined at San Carlos and followed Geronimo on a breakout from the reservation to continue raiding in Arizona and Mexico.
The American Army responded with a prolonged campaign against Geronimo. In 1862 Camp Bowie was upgraded to Fort Bowie. At the height of the Geronimo campaign, Fort Bowie had about 1000 men and women living in the canyon. The fort also had a pool hall, tennis court, and a Victorian two-story Commanding Officer's Quarters. In 1886 Geronimo and his supporters surrendered ending the Apache-Indian wars. The Apaches were transferred to Fort Bowie before being loaded onto trains at Holbrook, Arizona, where they were transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp in Florida.
After the Indian wars the fort's importance declined drastically until it was abandoned in 1894. A rancher owned the property and he scavenged the buildings for wood. In 1960 congress designated Fort Bowie as a National Historic Site. Today Fort Bowie is managed in a state of decay and there are no plans for restoration (Information from Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Philip Varney and Cochise by Edwin Sweeney).
Visitor Information: If you visit there is a three mile round trip trail that takes visitors to the main ruins in the park. Highlights include the Butterfield Stage Coach Station, Post cemetery, Apache Spring, Indian Agency and the ruins of the main fort itself. A visitor center is open Wednesday - Sunday 8 am to 5 pm. Inside the visitor center a number of artifacts are on display . There are also post cards, t-shirts and books for sell. If visitors are interested a return trip over a hill gives hikers a fantastic view of the fort ruins and surrounding mountains. Please refrain from defacing the ruins or removing items from the park.
Location and General Information: The Santa Rita Mountains extend 28 miles north and south east of Tucson. The highest mountain in the range is Mount Wrightson at 9,453 feet. Much of the vegetation is pine forest mixing to oak-pine forest at lower ecosystems. Wildlife include mule deer, black bear and mountain lion. The range has 100s of species of birds and visitors come from all over to observe rare birds. Popular areas are Madera Canyon and Whipple Observatory near Mount Hopkins.
Madera Canyon is located about 45 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Take l-19 south of Tucson 24 miles. Take the Continental Road exit. Follow the road until you see East Whitehouse Canyon Road and turn right. Follow the signs the rest of the way to the canyon.
On two consecutive Fridays I took my son Quintin to go hiking in Madera Canyon. The first trip we did about 2.5 miles total on the Dutch John Spring Trail. The second time we started near the Santa Rita Lodge hiking on the Nature Trail about 2.5 miles. If you go I would go during the weekday because Saturdays are extremely busy.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Franklin Auto Museum is a small overlooked car museum in Tucson, Arizona. Many people get lost getting to the museum if you have questions please contact a docent. From the University of Arizona take Campbell Avenue north. When you get to Prince Avenue turn left. Drive until you reach Mountain Avenue and turn left. Keep a look out for a dirt road called E Kleindale Road. Turn left onto Kleindale and drive until you arrive at N Vine Avenue. Turn left and follow this road until you reach the entrance.
This museum was the private collection of Thomas Hubbard who collected Franklin Automobiles as well as research materials. While alive he collected about 25 to 30 cars. Before his death Mr. Hubbard put his entire collection, research materials, and grounds into a trust to make sure they would never be sold at auction. The museum cost about $10 per person with discounts for students, seniors and military. Depending on a visitor's interest it takes a minimum of one hour to tour the museum. Docents do lead individuals and groups through the museum to make insure security of the collection and provide information on the various cars. However, the one I had was not very friendly and provided little supplemental information other than answers to questions I had about the collection. The museum is closed from late May to October.
Location: The Tortolita Mountains are located to the west of Tucson, Arizona. From downtown Tucson, take Interstate 10 to the Tangerine Road exit. Turn right once you get off the interstate. Drive on this road until you get to Dove Mountain Road. Turn left and follow this road until you see signs for the Ritz Carlton. The Wild Burro Trail head is located right next to the resort.
The Hike: I arrived at the trail head at 6 am in the morning in order to escape some of the afternoon heat. My plan for the day was to hike a loop starting on the Wild Mustang Trail and returning via the Alamo Springs Trail. The Wild Mustang Trail gives hikers great views of Wild Burro Canyon, Tucson valley and the Catalina Mountains. The first couple of miles on the Upper Javelina and Wild Mustang trails hikers gain considerable elevation. There are no trees and it is nice to complete this portion of the hike in the morning. While hiking I was surprised at the number of gnats and how bothersome they were. In fact if I rested for more than a minute my legs became covered in bugs. A nice surprise for me was the fact that Saguaro cacti were blooming in the upper part of Wild Burro Canyon. The plan was to eat in the shade at Alamo Springs but the gnats were too aggressive and I ate while hiking. In the upper part of the Alamo Springs Trail I saw my first rattlesnake of the year which was a big Mojave. He was moving along the side of the trail. I heard the rattle and backed off. Very quickly the snake disappeared into a bush. The weather was becoming warm so after a mile on the Alamo Springs trail I returned via a cutoff trail to Wild Burro Canyon. Along the way back to the trail head I hiked the very rocky but beautiful Lower Javelina Trail. Total mileage was about eight miles with minimal route finding skills needed. This is not a summer hike because of the low elevations involved.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Location: Lutz Canyon is located 12 miles to the south of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Take Highway 92 south until you reach Ash Canyon Road and turn right. Stay on Ash until you reach a fork, take the uphill road marked Lutz Canyon. The trail head is about one mile down the Lutz Canyon Road.
Lutz Canyon offers the quickest route to the summit of Miller Peak. The trail is 4.7 miles one way with about 3700 feet of vertical elevation gain. There is minimal route finding skills and trail junctions are marked. The first mile the trail is not very steep as it follows Ash Canyon. The trail becomes much tougher as you climb Lutz Canyon. Lutz Canyon saw mining activity and there are abandoned mine tunnels and equipment at various places in the canyon. It is surprising that the Forest Service has not gated these tunnels to keep people out. Old tunnels and shafts can be dangerous because of bad air, structural instability and drop offs. It is best to stay out. In the second tunnel it is obvious illegal immigrants or vagrants have used it for shelter because of the amount of garbage a couple of feet from the entrance.
A major fire burned on Miller Peak not too long ago and the forest is recovering. Dominant vegetation is manzanita and the sun can be intense because of the lack of shade. There is a nice place to rest at the junction of the crest trail. I would bring an extra shirt to change into once at the crest trail because the Huachucas can be cool throughout the year and a hiker might become chilled from their own sweat. The crest trail is a very beautiful trail and hikers are rewarded with vistas to the west. This section is rocky but well-built with switch backs that gain altitude but are not overly steep. A half mile from the summit the Miller Peak summit trail exits to the right. This trail has nice gradual switch backs to the top. At the top there are concrete remains of a fire tower that the Forest Service removed in the 80s. While on top I met a guy guy named Jeff who had moved back from Colorado to help take care of his parents. He invited me to hike back to Montezuma's Pass in Coronado National Forest where he would shuttle me back to my car at Lutz Canyon. I read no danger from him so I obliged and hiked the five miles along the Crest Trail to Coronado National Memorial. Most of this trail is not shaded so drink plenty of water. Views into Mexico were extraordinary. Total mileage for the day was about 10 miles. Disclaimer: Prior to 2008 illegal immigrants and drug runners used the Huachuca Mountains extensively on their hike north. Since 2008 Border Patrol has stepped up patrols and garbage and illegal immigrant sightings have decreased. This doesn't mean there is no danger so please use vigilance and common sense when hiking. (Information from http://www.summitpost.org/lutz-trail-to-crest-trail/164996)
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Directions: Old Tucson Studios is located near Saguaro National Park West. From town take Speedway BLVD west toward the Tucson Mountains. It will become Gates Pass Road. Drive over Gates Pass and continue driving until you reach a major T-intersection. Turn left and not to far down the road the studios will be on the left.
History: For the western movie history buff The Tuscon Studios have a rich history. Columbia Pictures built 40 buildings to recreate Tucson for the move Arizona. After a few years of dormancy, The Bell's of Saint Mary's was filmed on location. In the 1950s and 1960s John Wayne filmed four movies at the location including McLintock!, Rio Bravo, El Dorado, and Rio Lobo. Directors filmed a number of successful television series. Among them was The High Chaparral which aired for four years and Little House on the Prairie. In 1959 Robert Shelton leased the property and he added gunfights, shows and a small train. Through its history over 100 films and television shows have been filmed at Old Tucson Studios making it one of the most successful studios outside of Hollywood California.
In 1995 tragedy struck when a fire destroyed buildings, memorabilia, and costumes. According to investigators the fire started at a sign shop on Kansas Street. The fire spread quickly as a result of insufficient fire suppression equipment because most of the buildings were classified as temporary structures and did not have to have sprinklers installed. As a result of a call for resources, over 100 fire engines and 200 fire fighters responded. It took fire fighters over four hours to extinguish the flames and hot spots. Losses amounted to $10 million with all of Kansas Street and the Mission Area destroyed. (information from wikipedia and Old Tucson History Museum)
Visiting Information: I have to admit I am not into gimmicky tourist attractions and that is what kept me away from the studios. However, over the course of a year and a half everyone I talked to had visited the attraction and they raved about how much fun of an experience it was. In May, Tara and I decided it was time to visit with our son. After paying our entrance fee which is steep we were pleasantly surprised at how many performance the park offered. Over the course of the day we attended comedy shows, gun fights, reenactments and singing and dancing shows. My son also had a fun time riding the miniature train and merry-go-round. Unless a visitor is obsessed with western film history, one visit is enough. During the summer Old Tucson Studios is open Saturday and Sunday from 10-5.