Showing posts with label ARIZONA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARIZONA. Show all posts

Camp Crittenden Arizona - Where Apaches And Mountain Lions Ruled

Looking at a map of New Mexico, you will see it is nearly a thousand miles from the nearest US port – either Los Angeles or San Diego to the west on the Pacific coast or Galveston, Texas to the east on the Gulf of Mexico. Now see yourself as a wealthy rancher or mine owner in 19th century New Mexico. You have a fortune in product to export, yet the cost of moving that product to the nearest US port in order to ship to your buyers is prohibitive. However, there may be a solution to your problem. The Mexican port of Guaymas on the Sea of Cortez (aka Gulf of California) is little more than half as far away, if only it can be reached by rail.

A railroad already runs northward from Guaymas to the US border town of Nogales. By 1880, the Southern Pacific Railroad is making its transcontinental way to Los Angeles from back east and reaches the south eastern Arizonan town of Benson. There is 88 miles of empty desert between Benson and Nogales. If only these two towns can be linked by rail, it will be possible to use Guaymas as the port from which the wealth of New Mexico can much more easily be exported.

Therefore, in 1882, the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad was built. It ran through that empty hostile desert from Benson to Nogales and solved the problem. Part of it was washed away in a storm in 1929 and the rest of it was abandoned in 1962 due to lack of business. Today, the disused line provides a convenient hiking trail.

Train station Patagonia AZ

The original railway station built in Patagonia, Arizona is still standing and now serves as the Town Hall. Pat and I passed through that empty desert recently and could only marvel at the ingenuity of those 19th century entrepreneurs in problem-solving on such a grand scale.

Camp Crittenden marker
The scale of their achievement was brought home to us by a marker that we found by the desert roadside, apparently in the middle of nowhere, but close to the former route of the old railroad. The marker announced that, from 1867 to 1873, this was the site of Camp Crittenden. The camp had been established by Colonel Thomas S Crittenden of the US Army to protect nearby settlements from hostile Indians.

Announcement of Cushing's death

Leading a detachment of troops from Camp Crittenden, Lieutenant H B Cushing was killed in a skirmish on May 5 1871 by an Apache war leader from Cochise’s band. At about the same time as the new railroad was being pushed through the desert, US troops in the vicinity were still being killed by hostile Indians.

There are no hostile Apache warriors in Arizona today, as far as I know, but there are between 2500 and 3000 mountain lions roaming the state. These powerful predators live principally by eating deer. They can consume an entire deer in two nights. A male lion can grow to more than 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 150 pounds. These lions usually prefer to avoid people, but they can kill humans.

Bear looking through cabin window

In an item that I posted on this website some time ago, I mentioned a 1975 trip that I took to Alberta, Canada and my encounter there with a bear which looked through the window of my cabin on the shores of Lake Louise. As I then frankly admitted, I was fearful but I had no idea how to handle the situation had the bear taken a closer interest in me. I therefore gave no advice in that article and I belatedly apologize for that. However, this website presently receives over 12,000 hits per month, which greatly increases the likelihood that someone now reading this will one day be confronted by a mountain lion. I therefore surely have a duty to explain in detail what to do, should you be so confronted.

Click on video below to see Arizona Game and Fish informative video about mountain lions.

Make eye contact. Remain calm and speak loudly and firmly. Do not approach it. Hopefully, it will try to avoid a confrontation, so give it a way to escape. Do not run away because this may trigger its instinct to chase you. Stand and face it, while slowly backing away. Try to appear larger than you are and open your jacket. Raise your arms and wave them slowly. Do not crouch or turn your back. The idea is to convince it that you are not prey. If attacked, fight back and be sure to remain standing and facing the animal, which usually tries to bite the head or neck. I have no idea whether any of this works, never myself having ever met a mountain lion. I can accept no legal liability for any injuries that you may suffer by adopting these tactics. If they do not work and if you are still well enough after the experience to complain, I can only refer you to the Arizona Game and Fish Department who kindly provided me with this information. But whether or not you are successful in fighting the animal off, remember (as you struggle) that poor Lieutenant Cushing would surely have preferred an encounter with a mountain lion on May 5, 1871, than a fight with one of Cochise’s top warriors.

This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on March 30, 2011.

Tombstone Arizona - Apache Spirit Ranch

Ed Schieffelin monument
Exploring unusual places has always been a passion of mine. Such was the case one Sunday afternoon in February, 2012, when I set out to find the gravesite of Ed Schieffelin, the founder of Tombstone. Schieffelin’s last will and testament instructed that he be buried standing up in the location of his first campsite. The strange cone shaped tomb stands alone on top of a hill surrounded by a magnificent unobstructed 360 degree view of an immense valley that 300 million years ago was the bottom of an inland sea. Schieffelin’s creation, Tombstone, sits two miles south of the monument, nestled in the shadow of the Dragoon mountain range, once home to the famous Chiricahua Apache leader, Cochise, and his people.

Heading back in the direction of Tombstone, I came across two dozen horses spread out through several large corrals standing in the shadow of what appeared to be a small western town.

Horses at Apache Spirit Ranch

Walking down Main Street, a dirt path wide enough for two stagecoaches to comfortably pass each other, I encountered a woman carrying linens out of a building with the words Doc Holliday over the door.

Main Street at Apache Spirit Ranch

Imagine my surprise when she spoke to me with a heavy German accent. When I inquired about what the place was she explained that it was a hotel named the Apache Spirit Ranch and pointed me to the lobby for more information. It was there I met several more German nationals, and in particular, Julia Wieck, Co-Manager of the Ranch.

I asked Julia for permission to make some videos of the ranch using my cell phone. She graciously agreed and then spent the next hour giving me a tour of the place and explaining the meaning behind the name, Apache Spirit Ranch. She later set up interviews for me with the owner and other ranch employees to help me learn more about this unique environment.

Click below to see the video of my tour with Julia Wieck.

Julia began my tour by a visit to an authentic Apache village constructed on the property by Joe Saenz, a Chiricahua Apache and friend of Peter Stenger, the CEO and manager of the German investment company that owns the ranch. Peter lives in Munich and has a passion for the history of the Wild West. I was lucky enough to meet him when he arrived two days later at the ranch.

Apache camp

Apache Joe Saenz is the Interpretive Display Consultant and Cultural Guide for the ranch. Guests are invited to sit by the campfire in the Apache village and listen to Joe and other members of the Apache Nation talk about the history and former lifestyle of the Apache people who once called this area home.

Click on the video below to see my interview with Chiricahua Apache Joe Saenz.

Brad Kissinger and Eunice Lindsay are the horse wranglers and trainers that lead guests on horseback to many of the unique trails, mines, and historic haunts surrounding the ranch. “We have a variety of horses to suit guests with different riding abilities or skill levels,” says Brad.

Horse Wranglers Eunice Lindsay and Brad Kisssinger

The facilities of the ranch are on a par with a three-star hotel, with all the comfort and amenities ideally suited for family getaways. Special facilities are easily accessible for handicapped guests. Tours are available to the main Arizona attractions, such as Tombstone, Tucson, and the border town of Nogales, just to name a few. An enormous barn is available for events that can include full catering services.

Guest room at Apache Spirit Ranch
Apache Spirit Ranch is far more than a western themed ranch. Peter Stenger, with the guidance and cooperation of his friend, Apache Joe Saenz, has created a unique resort where people can experience a different kind of vacation that goes beyond reliving the era of Cowboys and Indians. It invokes the Great Spirit of the Apache people and honors all those who once called this region home.

Click on the video below to see my interview with Peter Stenger, CEO Apache Spirit Ranch.

This piece, written by Pat, was originally posted on our website on March 3, 2012.