Category Archives: History

The gift of imagination in the Dragoon Mountains

Have your kids ever searched for a mysterious burial ground?

Take them camping in the Dragoon mountains this summer, and maybe they can find where the great Chiricahua Apache leader, Cochise, is buried.

In his column, Mike Doyle, of the Rockford Register Star, remembers the days that his imagination captivated him. He and his friend spent hours searching and exploring for Cochise. Doyle really believed he’d find him.

Odds are, your kids won’t find Cochise’s burial spot. Men and women have searched for it for years, after all.

But wouldn’t you like your children to make their own memories searching?

Cochise Stronghold in the east side of the Dragoon Mountains

Cochise Stronghold in the east side of the Dragoon Mountains

Cochise Stronghold is part of the Coronado National Forest. There are bed and breakfasts in the area if you’re not into “roughing it.” The Cochise Stronghold Bed & Breakfast inn is nearby.  Another bed & breakfast inn is the Strawbale Manor, which has a view of Cochise Stronghold.

You can find other nearby accommodations at Cochise County’s website or at any of the nearby communities’ websites. Willcox and Benson are the closest communities to Cochise Stronghold. Other communities in Cochise County are Douglas, Bisbee, Sierra Vista and Tombstone.

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May events in Cochise County

Memorial Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking for something to do for the holiday or the following weekend, check out these events in Cochise County.

May 22-24, Bisbee Gem and Mineral Show, Bisbee

Gems and minerals from many regions will be on display. If you’re a rock hound, this event is for you.

Details: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Queen Mine Tour. Admission is free. For more info, call 520-432-2071 or see event information on Bisbee’s website.

May 23, Pedal the Paths, Sierra Vista

Grab your bike and head down to Sierra Vista! Take one of four routes that start and end at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Routes vary from 10 to 31 miles long.  The no-cost rides are on some or all of Sierra Vista’s 19 miles of multi-use paths. Portions of the routes between the paths will be on bike lanes and low-traffic streets.

Details: Ride start times are between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and begin near the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway entrance to Veterans’ Park. Riders under 18 years old must wear bicycling helmets, as required by City Ordinance. Route maps and information are available at the Parks & Leisure Services Office in the Oscar Yrun Center, the Sierra Vista Library, M&M Cycling and Sun ‘N Spokes bike shops, and Fort Huachuca’s Barnes Field House and Eifler Fitness Center.

For more info, call 520-458-7922.

May 23-25, Wyatt Earp Days, Tombstone

Gunfight reenactments fill the streets, along with a chili cook-off, hangings, street entertainment, look-alike contests and an 1880′s fashion show.

Details: The events begin at 10 a.m. Saturday through Monday in historic downtown Tombstone. Admission is free. For more info, call 520-457-3511.

May 30 & 31, Willcox Rod & Classic Car Show, Willcox

The 3rd annual car show will be held in the Willcox Historic District on Railroad Ave. For information contact the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture at 520-384-2272 or the Rex Allen Museum at 520-384-4583 or info@rexallenmuseum.org.

Visit each community’s website for information on traveling to Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Willcox.

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Bisbee’s Warren on Arizona’s state seal

Ever look at Arizona’s state seal? There’s a miner depicted there who is connected to Cochise County’s history.

Arizona's state seal

Arizona's state seal

The mining prospector is George Warren, a man who held a claim to Bisbee‘s copper wealth.

Clay Thompson wrote a column in Friday’s Arizona Republic that talked a little bit about the man and why he is on the seal.

He says he got most of his info from Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian. Thompson writes:

“He [Warren] had quite a life, including being raised by Apaches until they traded him for some sugar.

The Apaches seem to have gotten the better end of that deal because Warren turned out to be kind of a bum.

He had many various misadventures, mostly fueled by alcohol.

However, Warren’s crowning moment came at a Fourth of July celebration in Bisbee where, with a snoot full, he bet that he could outrun a man on a horse through Brewery Gulch.

He lost, of course, and, in doing so, lost his share in what became Bisbee’s fabulously wealthy Copper Queen mine. He died a pauper.”

So how did this guy get on Arizona’s state seal? According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, Warren’s picture was taken by famed photographer, C.S. Fly. The post says:

“A print of this photo hung in the office of William Brophy, founder of the Bank of Bisbee and general manager of the Phelps Dodge Mercantile Company. During the Constitutional Convention in 1910, Delegate Ellinwood, a former director of the Bisbee bank, borrowed the picture of Warren from Brophy to use as a model for the seal. Warren’s signature pose, with right arm and leg propped up, became part of the first state seal.”

Arizona (and Bisbee in particular) had a wealth of copper that was mined in the 1800s through the late 1900s. The copper helped “electrify” the country when power lines were installed across rural America. Today, you can go underground with former miners who will tell you about mining life. It’s at Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tour.

One of Bisbee’s neighborhoods is the “Warren district,” where the beautiful arts and crafts-era Greenway House is and farmers markets are held every Saturday from May to October.

The Warren district is also home to the Warren Ballpark, the oldest continually run ballpark in the U.S. The ballpark is celebrating its 100th birthday this year during the July Fourth weekend. See the Bisbee events calendar. Download the 2009 Annual Bisbee events document for a full schedule.

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Recurring events in Cochise County

Want the chance to learn about Arizona’s history or experience some of southern Arizona’s greatest outdoor activities? You can with some of the events in Cochise County that happen on a regular basis.

Tours of Historic Faraway Ranch, Chiricahua National Monument

The Faraway Ranch was one of the earliest cattle and guest ranches in southeast Arizona. You’ll get to step back in time and see how life was lived in the early days of the West.

Details: 2 p.m. & 3 p.m. Fridays-Sundays at Chiricahua National Monument, 12856 E. Rhyolite Creek Road. Admission is free with park admission of $5 a person. Info at 520-824-3560, ext. 303 or kathrine_neilsen@nps.gov.

Arizona Folklore Preserve, Sierra Vista

Arizona’s Official State Balladeer Dolan Ellis and musical guests perform Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the Arizona Folklore Preserve’s intimate setting in forested Ramsey Canyon. Many of the songs are inspired by aspects of Arizona life and culture. Reservations are required. Go to the Arizona Folklore Preserve’s website to see a list of upcoming shows.

Details: 2 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays at the Arizona Folklore Preserve, 44 E. Ramsey Canyon Road, Hereford. Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for students 17 and under. Info at 520-378-6165 or on the Arizona Folklore Preserve’s website.

Guided Walks, Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Sierra Vista

On these walks, you have a chance to see 170 species of birds found in the preserve and the surrounding national forest. Southwestern specialties such as painted redstarts and magnificent hummingbirds are here, as are other animals, including mountain lions, canyon treefrogs, rattlesnakes and dozens butterfly species. Guided nature walks are conducted March through October. Admission to the Preserve is $5; $3 for Cochise County residents. 27 E. Ramsey Canyon Road, Hereford.

Details:  9 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Admission is $5 for non-residents and $3 for Cochise County residents and Nature Conservancy members. Children under 16 are free. Call 520-378-2785 for more info.

Hummingbird Banding

Up to 10 species of hummingbirds use the San Pedro River corridor and surrounding areas as a migratory path. The public is invited to get an up-close look as scientists catch, band, weigh, measure and then release the birds.

Details: Check the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory’s calendar of events or the Hummingbird Monitoring  Network’s calendar page to find out when banding sessions are held. Viewing the banding is free San Pedro House, 9800 Highway 90.  4-6 p.m. Donations are gratefully accepted. For more information call the Southeastern Arizona Bird at 520-432-1388.

Farmer’s Markets

Local farmers and growers offer fresh produce and products. You’ll find a luscious assortment of garden fresh fruits and vegetables for sale, plus many other unique items.

Sierra Vista Farmers Market: noon to 4 p.m., Thursdays on the northwest corner of Willcox Drive & Carmichael Ave. in Sierra Vista. Info:  520-378-2973

Bisbee Farmers Market: 8 a.m. – noon, Saturdays, May through October in Vista Park, Bisbee. Info: 520-432-5421 or 1-866-2BISBEE

Events like the hummingbird banding are seasonal, as the birds migrate from about March to October, so call ahead for more details.

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Arizona Trail–start it in Cochise County!

Have you hiked any of the Arizona Trail’s 817 miles? If you have, you know that it’s got some gorgeous scenery along the way. Part of that trail starts right here in Cochise County.

Last week, an Arizona Daily Star article announced that the Arizona Trail has been designated a National Scenic Trail. President Barack Obama signed it into law on Monday, March 30.

The trail spans the length of Arizona starting at the Coronado National Memorial, where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led an expedition to find the “Seven Cities of Cibola.” Read its legend and lore.

Cochise County’s portion of the Arizona Trail lies in the Huachuca Mountains.

The Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista

The Huachuca Mountains, Sierra Vista, AZ

It is the first 21 miles of the Arizona Trail on the southern border. Most of the trail lies in the Miller Peak Wilderness, a moderate-to-difficult section of the trail, with segments along the Crest Trail and on to Miller Peak (the tallest mountain in Cochise County at 9,466 feet).

For more information on the trail, contact the Sierra Vista Ranger district of the Coronado National Forest.

Happy Hiking!

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Baseball history in Bisbee, Arizona

Are you a baseball fan interested in its Arizona roots? If you’re on your way to watch some Cactus League action (or are here now), you might want to consider a road trip to Bisbee, Arizona.

It’s here at the 100-year-old Warren Ballpark that history was made. Baseball legends John McGraw, Connie Mack and Charlie Comiskey brought their teams to play here. Today, the Bisbee Copper Kings ball club, a member of the Pacific Southwest Baseball League, makes Warren its home field.

Can’t make it in March? Come back in July for the first annual Copper Kings Invitational Baseball tournament and the Warren Ballpark’s centennial celebration. See the latest list of events for Bisbee’s Fourth of July weekend for more information.

Trying to topple the Bisbee Copper Kings will be the Phoenix/Mesa Garden of Gears, the Tucson Nationals, the Casa Grande Cotton Kings, the Denver Cougars and the El Paso Texans. Another team will join them to round out the tourney. There will be eight teams and 15 games, hot dogs, beer and team memorabilia.

If you want to make plans to come to the tournament, it pays to plan ahead. July Fourth weekend is busy in Bisbee, so make your reservations early.

Many baseball legends managed or played on the Bisbee field. Major league managers and players who saw action at Warren Ballpark include Billy Martin, Charlie Metro, Frank Lucchesi, Clint Courtney and Earl Wilson among others. More than 20 major league players and managers started their careers or came back to manage at Warren Ball Park. See my earlier post with a picture of the 1947 Bisbee Yanks.

So, why not plan a trip down?

Here are a few facts about the historic Warren Ballpark:

  1. It was constructed by the Warren Company, a subsidiary of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company.
  2. Original cost: $3,600.
  3. The field provided recreation and entertainment for copper miners and the townspeople of Bisbee.
  4. Originally scheduled for June 26, 1909, opening day was postponed due to a rain-out. The following day, the “Bisbee Beautiful” team hosted and defeated a visiting squad from El Paso.
  5. In the 1920s, some of the outlaw players who were caught up in the 1919 World Series “Black Sox” scandal played on the Warren Ballpark field, but were not on the Bisbee team. These “outlaw” players were from visiting teams.
  6. The Bisbee team’s refusal to sign blacklisted players was one of the reasons why they became one of the first minor league teams in the Arizona-Texas League.
  7. Major league teams regularly played exhibition games at Warren Ballpark in the 1910s, 20s, 30s and 40s. Teams that played here included the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Athletics.
  8. Bert Shepard pitched for the 1941 Bisbee Bees before joining the Army Air Forces and becoming a fighter pilot. He returned from a German POW camp to become the only man to play on an artificial leg in major league baseball.

The company that funded the ballpark’s construction, Calumet and Arizona, was one of the three biggest copper producers in the area at the time. Today, there’s an inn named after it: The Calumet & Arizona Guest House. It’s within walking distance from the ballpark.

Warren Ballpark circa 1910

Warren Ballpark circa 1910

Warren Ballpark 2008

Warren Ballpark 2008

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Fairbank tells part of Arizona history

Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

If you like ghost towns, check out the historic site of Fairbank. It was once a thriving depot along the rail line that took passengers from Arizona into Mexico.

Travel writer, Nancy Yackel, wrote a great post about the history of Fairbank. Visit her site to learn more.

Want to know more? Visit Cochise County and the old Fairbank town site yourself! Check out the Cochise County web site for more details.

Other ghost towns in Cochise County include Charleston, Millville, Gleeson and others. You might also want to check out another Web site devoted entirely to ghost towns. Here’s the link for those in Cochise County.

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