Cochise County, Arizona - December 29, 2006
We are about 60 miles east of New Mexico on Interstate 10. We ran into snow flurries on the way in. The TV says there is a severe snow storm on the way. I plugged in a little Wal-Mart heater where the water tanks and holding tanks are located down in the RV basement. The RV Park here has a big workout room, a restaurant, an indoor heated pool and hot tub and a big book exchange. I picked up three new things to read.
Chief Cochise was buried secretly somewhere in the Cochise Stronghold nearby. There is also Tombstone, Karchner Caverns, an underground coal mine tour to see.
The Chiricahua National Monument is one of the mountainous "sky islands" rising out of the vast Arizona deserts.
To establish a National Park requires an act of Congress. National monuments, forests, rivers, historical sites, battlefields, etc, require only the signature of a President. This area was set aside as a National Monument in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.
The Chiricahua Mountains were created by a massive volcanic eruption only 26 million years ago. Thick layers of ash were compressed into rock, uplifted, eroded and fractured. The Chicicahua Apaches called this “land-of-rocks-stood-on-end”.
Today we drove 40 miles over flat, dry desert (uplifted to 5,000 feet) to reach the base of the mountains. Six inches of snow, very rare in this dry climate, covered the trees and hills. There is a historical ranch preserved in the monument called the Faraway Ranch. We walked a short distance and got wet boots. Back in town, we purchased waterproof Coleman hiking boots to try again tomorrow. There are over 16 miles of hiking trails in the Monument.
Cochise was born about 1815. He led efforts to repel Mexican settlers until a period of relative peace began in 1850 when the US annexed the area. He was falsely accused of kidnapping a settler’s son and imprisoned after reporting for questioning. He escaped after being shot three times. He took hostages to use in negotiations, but his plan backfired and both sides killed all their hostages. Cochise signed another treaty in 1872 and is believed to be buried in the Cochise stronghold nearby..
Disgruntled Apache warriors, most notably Geronimo, continued raids until 1886. That was the last significant Indian guerrilla action in the United States. At the end, his group consisted of only 16 warriors, 12 women, and 6 children. Upon their surrender, Geronimo and over 300 of his fellow Chiricahuas were shipped to Fort Marion, Florida. One year later many of them were relocated to the Mt. Vernon barracks in Alabama, where about one quarter died from tuberculosis and other diseases. Geronimo died on Feb. 17, 1909, as a prisoner of war.
“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures." – Geronimo