Posts Tagged With: Geronimo

Geronimo Surrender Monument, Apache, Arizona

We arrived in Deming, New Mexico three days ago. Mary departed two days ago for home to tend to taxes and other business. I’m at Rockhound State Park in Deming, New Mexico waiting out a forecasted very windy coming Saturday through Tuesday. Prior to arriving in Deming there was so much to see and do I didn’t get to Blog about it. Here is one now…


Two days ago, while traveling along Arizona State Highway 80 towards our destination of Pancho Villa State Park at Columbus,New Mexico, we went through a tiny settlement at Apache, Arizona. This Google Earth image shows the remoteness of the location. The G is the location of the monument. The actual surrender site was at Skeleton Canyon…11 miles to the east in the mountains…accessible only today by a 4-wheel drive road…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view...

Here’s a photo of the remoteness of the area…nothing but the road and the land…

Here’s a photo of the monument…

Here’s the plaque on the monument…

A couple of nights ago we watched the movie “Geronimo” starring Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon. It was relatively accurate in its historical correctness.

Once the Apaches were rounded up and being told the rules for their forced reservation life…one Apache states…”Before the white-eyes arrived the Apache owned the land and could roam wide and free…why no more?”

As an avid historian, I’ve come to know the sad truth about how the United States Government made all sorts of promises through “treaties” with the Indians…few of which were ever kept. It’s truly a sad legacy of our history.

In the movie, the young U.S. Army officer portrayed by Matt Dillon resigns his commission because of the U.S. Government’s betrayal of the Indians. The General replied…”God…how I hate an idealist!”

Visiting historical sites is of of my main pleasures of my full-time RVing lifestyle.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
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This is Superstition Mountain, a range of sharp pinnacles that rises from the flat desert floor right here in Apache Junction. This is Apache territory, these mountains, and Geronimo ranged over this barely hospitable range that is now partly Tonto National Forest, and Lost Dutchman State Park. The Roosevelt dam, brought a string of lakes to the area and its a much valued recreation area, along with the privately owned town of Tortilla Flat.

We drove up the Apache Trail which is nicely paved, now. Much of the Apache Trail was inundated by the Roosevelt Dam, but we did see portions of the foot and horse paths used by the Indians. Its interesting terrain puts water and cactus in close proximity.

We enjoyed the drive to Tortilla Flat, basically a tourist town now. It was once a valuable stage stop. It served the builders of the dam with supplies and recreation in the 1940’s. It has a colorful history of the  many owners who basically went broke here. Each bought the whole town. Part of that history feeds upon the stories of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Stories, plural because there are so many tales one can count on it being a fake. Yet, in the years after the identified Dutchman, a German named Jacob Waltz (an American spelling) supposedly convinced some people there was a rich mine. No one has ever found it, though thousands have searched, some losing their lives in the process, which is how legends are built.

Tortilla Flat has a population of six people and about six buildings. A saloon, gift shop with books and souvenirs, a restaurant and small general store and a small school museum. Probably not the original school. We watched a band set up on the patio of the saloon.  The area is subject to flash floods and a man named John Cline, with some people from the Tonto Basin were stranded at this spot when the flood waters cut them off from the roads. With nothing but flour and water, they made tortillas to eat and Cline christened the place Tortilla Flat. That fact is fairly well documented unlike the Dutchman’s mine.

The restaurant and bar has wall after wall of dollar bills as wallpaper, a tradition that started in about 1950 or so. The building burned once with all of its dollars. It was robbed once of its dollars. But, the custom flourishes and it is estimated that approximately 160,000 dollars are stapled to the walls. Some get damaged as you brush by them; many have signatures or are accompanied with a business card.

The place has a number of murals suggestive of its more notorious past.

Plenty of old rusty relics decorate the grounds and buildings.

We drove past the town headed for Fish Camp. We got by this flooded section of road easily, but the road is under repair and closed ahead of this spot and we only ventured a few miles farther.
On the way out, we stopped at the State Camp Grounds and got close to some of the saguaro cactus, not very big ones, but fat and healthy looking.

We drove by forests of Cholla, some in bloom making a white dotted hillside. And, at the end of the day, we stopped by Jim’s home lodge of the VFW for a hamburger and a beer. Good stuff. And, here, they serve the beer COLD!

And, I always thought that indentation in the bottom of the mug was to give you the idea you had more than you actually got, kind of a “packaging” trick.

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The trail we hiked was quite rough in places and steep in others. High desert, inhospitable to all but those who called it home, the Chiricahua Apache. They adopted the horse from incursions of Spaniards and made their last stand here against the American Calvary for life as they had known it.
The Apache allowed the Butterfield Stage to trek across their lands. They didn’t see them as a threat. It was a tense trip because the Butterfield drivers knew the Apache could be unpredictable. This pass was a direct link to the only southern route into California by way of the Yuma crossing which moved men and goods across the mighty Colorado river. Above is a trace of the stage road leading down into the valley and beyond.

This pass was chosen because it had the only dependable, year around source of water, Apache Springs. The Apache way of life was to ride into the valley and bag deer. The women kept the children, collected berries, prickly pear and other edibles to complete their way of life. When settlers began intruding, the Apache raided them. Everyone coveted the water.

The U.S. established Fort Bowie to protect the pass and its settlers from the Apache. They sent in soldiers and an uneasy co-existence was maintained for many years between the U.S. and the Apache by way of talks with their leader, Cochise. The U.S. established an Indian Agent to assist with peace-keeping promises. Skirmishes with indians and settlers were common with fear and mistrust ruling reason on both sides.
A shared cemetery.

Then the Bascom affair led to eleven years of all out war when the Apache were accused of kidnapping Mickey Free. Bascom was sent in to rectify things and during a meeting with Cochise he committed the unforgiveable sin of grabbing Chochise and imprisoning him during a peace talk. The new Apache leader was the renegade, Geronimo.
The U.S. sent in more and more troops. Expanded Fort Bowie and brought in Cannon to fight the Indians. They eventually succeeded in getting the Apache to surrender. They moved Cochise and Geronimo with their people to reservations.
It struck me how accurately some of the western movies I’ve seen over the years portrayed these events. Its also ironic that just 120 miles north, at Tuscon, are the studios that produced most of those movies on Arizona land.
The remains of the expanded, second Fort Bowie above. The hike takes you to both forts. The visitor center nearby has wonderful books on the Apache and a small, but good museum.

In this museum sits the tent shaped stove above. A soldier invented it and canvas covered tents, claiming he got the idea from examining indian tents. He signed a contract with the U.S Government to supply the tents for a royalty on each one sold. It is estimated he would have made 250,000 in royalties had they paid him. It was his misfortune to side with the Confederates.
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