Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
We drove up to see the National Monument for the second time. Back in 2007 it was snowing and beautiful. Now it's merely beautiful.
The Chiricahua Apaches moved into the area about 1630 and ran into the Northern expansion of the Spanish. That led to centuries of conflict.
The most famous leader of the Chiricahua Apaches was Cochise. He was a brilliant leader and tactician. The Apaches were perhaps the finest foot soldiers in history, able to run all night, barefoot, in single file though the desert to attack an objective.
The rocks of Chiricahua look a little like those in the Bryce National Park. The difference is that Bryce is red sandstone and Chiricahua is compressed volcanic ash.
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.
Chief Cochise was buried secretly somewhere in the Cochise Stronghold nearby. 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”.
“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
Neil Erickson fought Apaches for five years and served 30 years in the Army. Neil and Emma established the Faraway Ranch at the entrance of the Monument.
Emma lived here until 1950, when she died at age 96.
Her son, Louis Benton, "Ben" served in WWI and died at age 87. The helmet on his grave may be his, but the ribbons include a Vietnam Service medal with an oak leaf cluster, which he is unlikely to have received at age 80..
When we were here in January, 2007 it had snowed. This is a picture of the Faraway Ranch built by the Ericksons.
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.