Ft. Bowie, Chiricahua National Monument & The Dining Car

Posted by on February 28, 2013

We were so glad that we decided to make the 2 night stop in Willcox, Arizona as our day of sight-seeing was great!

We started the day with waffles at the office.  They’re made fresh each morning for those that wish to partake.  We had an enjoyable visit with the camp hosts, John & Linda.  They’re originally from New Hampshire but now have a home here in Arizona and ‘camp host’ when the owner goes out of town.  Linda gave us a great tip about Warren Earp (Wyatt’s brother) being buried in a local cemetery….so you know us…we had to visit.  The cemetery was similar to Concordia in El Paso but more desolate and barren.

Linda & John our camp hosts

Linda & John our camp hosts

Office at Ft. Willcox RV Park - waffles served daily for breakfast

Office at Ft. Willcox RV Park – waffles served daily for breakfast

City Cemetery, Willcox, AZ

City Cemetery, Willcox, AZ

A few tombstones here and there...hidden among the sand and tumbleweeds

A few tombstones here and there…hidden among the sand and tumbleweeds

Warren Earp - March 9, 1855 – July 6, 1900.  His original tombstone had to be replaced with this one encased in steel due to vandalism.

Warren Earp – March 9, 1855 – July 6, 1900. His original tombstone had to be replaced with this one encased in steel due to vandalism.

After stopping at the City Cemetery to visit Earp’s grave we head south on 186 to Historic Ft. Bowie.  After turning off of 186 we had to drive 8 miles down a dirt road to get to the trail head.  Then we had a 1.5 mile hike through the desert and hills of Apache Pass.  The area was once the home of Cochise & Geronimo and their followers.  It was a pretty strenuous hike…at least for us.  But we enjoyed it immensely.  It was a great way to put into perspective the journey that the soldiers, their families and the Indians dealt with on a daily basis.  At one point as we passed by some tall hills/small mountains I told Michael I could just picture Geronimo and his warriors lined up along the ridge looking down on us.

The 8-mile dirt road

The 8-mile dirt road

Starting out on our journey.  It was chilly - bout 43 degrees.

Starting out on our journey. It was chilly – bout 43 degrees.

My loving husband providing me with a bench to rest my weary feet.

My loving husband providing me with a bench to rest my weary feet.

Lucky for him there was a real bench not far away

Lucky for him there was a real bench not far away

Relaxing in the comfort of an Apache wickiup

Relaxing in the comfort of an Apache wickiup

Along the trail to Ft. Bowie we passed by several interesting ruins and the old Post Cemetery.  Those that were buried there were people that lived at Ft. Bowie and even a few Apache Indians that had been captured and died while living on post.  All of the military remains were moved to San Fransisco many years ago so all that remains are civilians (most of whom were killed by Apache’s and a few Indians…most notably of which is Little Robe, Geronimo’s 2 year old son.

Remains of a cabin belonging to Jesse Millsap a prospector & well digger.

Remains of a cabin belonging to Jesse Millsap a prospector & well digger.

Ruins of the stagecoach station.  In use from July 1858 to March 1861.

Ruins of the stagecoach station. In use from July 1858 to March 1861.

Little Robe, son of Geronimo

Little Robe, son of Geronimo

Apache Spring was the water source for the entire area.  Geronimo drank here!

Apache Spring was the water source for the entire area. Geronimo drank here!

Self photography

Self photography

Almost there!

Almost there!

Just before you reach the Ft. Bowie ruins you can visit the Old Ft. Bowie runs.  Michael chose to walk up to the top of the hill on which the Old Ft. Bowie ruins…I waited at the ruins of the Post Laundress.

Old Fort Bowie ruins

Old Fort Bowie ruins

and some more

and some more

Waiting for the return of my soldier (retired)

Waiting for the return of my soldier (retired)

We were both surprised at how expansive the New Ft. Bowie was.  The ruins (barracks, officers quarters, schoolhouse, kitchen & mess hall, butcher, Canteen, Post Headquarters etc) were spread out all over.  It was really interesting to walk among the ruins and think about what life was like back when this post was in full swing.

Barracks

Barracks

Powder magazine

Powder magazine

Many of the ruins have been encased in plaster to help preserve them

Many of the ruins have been encased in plaster to help preserve them

The Commanding Officers Quarters

The Commanding Officers Quarters

Kitchen/Mess Hall

Kitchen/Mess Hall

There is a visitor’s center next to the ruins so we stopped and looked around…but not too much as there was a group of grade school kids fluttering about.  We sat on the porch and had a granola bar and bottle of water and tried to forget the kids were there.  There was also a large group of soldiers visiting from Fort Huachuca (about 100 miles southwest of Ft. Bowie)

We made the hike back to the truck and took some time to eat lunch before moving on.  On the way back we stopped and talked to several different groups that were headed to the fort.  Strangely enough each group saw my Rhinelander Hodag sweatshirt and commented!  Couples in each group were from Wisconsin…one from Antigo, one from somewhere near Madison and yet another had lived in Menominee Falls.  Our lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen was a little on the light side since someone (who shall remain nameless) forgot to pack the bread for our sandwiches…so we just had lettuce wraps instead!

One couple lies in Antigo, WI and the other used to live in Menominee Falls but now lives in Tucson, AZ.

One couple lies in Antigo, WI and the other used to live in Menominee Falls but now lives in Tucson, AZ.

We had to drive about 25 miles or so to our next destination, The Chiricuhua National Monument.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect but were amazed at what we found…awesome, huge rock formations.  The formations are thought to have been formed when a volcano erupted and deposits formed and then were surrounded by softer dirt etc.  When the rains came it washed away the soil and debris surrounding the columns.  Today we are left with these beautiful columns, pinnacles, balancing rocks.

Snow covered peaks of the Chiricuhua Mountains

Snow covered peaks of the Chiricuhua Mountains

Ewww....snow!

Ewww….snow!

Just a teaser of what was to come

Just a teaser of what was to come

This little guy and 2 of his friends were fiercely protecting something in this area that we stopped to gape at the awesomness of the Pipe Organ formation

This little guy and 2 of his friends were fiercely protecting something in this area that we stopped to gape at the awesomeness of the Pipe Organ formation

Michael in front of the Pipe Organ formation

Michael in front of the Pipe Organ formation

The Pipe Organ formation

The Pipe Organ formation

IMG_0260

Lookout point

Lookout point

See the 'v' in the mountains in the front?  Follow that back the mountains in the distance.  At the top of that mountain is where Cochise's Stronghold was located.  When he died his followers buried him somewhere near that area and his remains have never been found.

See the ‘v’ in the mountains in the front? Follow that back the mountains in the distance. At the top of that mountain is where Cochise’s Stronghold was located. When he died his followers buried him somewhere near that area and his remains have never been found.

If you ever get the chance to stop in Willcox, Arizona…do so…be plan to spend a few days.  The town is quite historic and  even has a walking tour (which we would have like to have done).  Plan a full day to visit Ft. Bowie & Chiricuhua…

By the time we got back to civilizations (Willcox) it was about 6:30 and we were hungry.  We stopped at The Dining Car:  Big Tex BBQ.  I’d read about it online and it had pretty good reviews.  It’s and old train car that has been remodeled into a restaurant.  They added on another room to have a bigger dining room.  We chose to sit in the actual train car itself and it was pretty cool.  The place was really hopping but we got our food pretty quickly.  We both went with bbq…Michael ribs & brisket and me with ribs & chicken.  The ribs were pretty darn tasty while both the brisket and chicken were a little on the dry side.  We also shared an order of deep fried green beans and were full when we left.

The Dining Car - Big Tex BBQ

The Dining Car – Big Tex BBQ

Inside of the dining car

Inside of the dining car

Oh!  Can’t forget about our Munzee adventures.  Before we headed out of town in the morning we stopped at the Visitor’s Center to ‘cap’ one that had been deployed there.  I also deployed one after dinner at the dining car.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Ft. Bowie, Chiricahua National Monument & The Dining Car

  1. Jerry Magill

    Very good blog, Kelly! I really enjoyed reading the history and viewing the pictures of what you saw.

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