From Rocks To Gadgets – Part 1November 24, 2015
After having enjoyed many years of interesting worthwhile living in Cochise County and having learned to love and appreciate its nice people; its wonderful mountains and valleys; its most remarkable mineral wealth; its important cattle industry; its agricultural possibilities and above all its deep blue skies, gorgeous sunsets and its unparalled climate, it seems only natural to have the desire to impart comprehensively and chronologically such knowledge and information of historical and other events about people, events and places which have been accumulated over the years, by observation, reading and study from many widely scattered sources.
This is done here for newcomers and “Oldtimers” alike who, having gotten a glimpse here and there of such matters, may be desirous to see the whole picture, but have not had the time or opportunity to satisfy their curiosity or interest.
The deeper one probes into the history of the county, the more one becomes convinced that it is a place where in the geological past great crustal changes and turmoil of the earth have taken place, of aborigine thousands of years ago, conquistadores, missionaries, romance ,enchantment, legend, treasures, murder, wealth and everlasting change; of Indian attacks on covered wagons, stage coach robberies and wild and wooly frontier brawls. Beyond this it has been a progressive county of great industry, strong men, great mines and of fine people with courageous daring enterprise, who won out against sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The very abundant and varied animal and plant life which is found here is a never ending surprise, in what is designated as an inhospitable, semi-arid land of scarce rainfalL
One may have the choice of living in a climate which is semih’opical, in a temperate zone or in between by selecting a place for a home at any elevation between 2,600 and 10,000 ft.
Subject materials for vocations or hobbies such as botany, zoology, sports, archaeology, geology, hunting, gardening, etc., are available in large numbers in a climate where they may be followed in comfort during most of the year. There are also opportunities to make a good living by farming, cattle and horse raising, mining and various businesses.
The great mineral wealth of the county which has come from the mines of Tombstone and Bisbee will be discussed further on.
The beautiful mineral specimens of Malachite and Azurite found in museums and collections all over the world are no longer discovered in the Bisbee mines.
The four C’s, Copper, Cattle, Cotton and Climate lead the list of industries in the county, but the raising of both thoroughbred and quarter horses are also important.
The search for oil has been going on for the past forty years; it has so far been without success near such places as Benson, Bowie, Willcox, Bisbee-Douglas Airport, Fronteras, Double Adobe and Douglas. In spite of extensive “Wildcat” wells put down by large oil companies no oil has been as yet found in Arizona.
Of late years “Dude Ranches” have become numerous and popular. They offer everything that the West can to the “Tenderfoot” Easterner. Cochise County has become the playground for vacationists and health seekers who the year around follow the beneficial rays of the sun. Children play outdoors the year around with great benefit to their growth and health.
Educational facilities of both grade and high schools are excellent and equal to any in the United States.
Strangers to these parts who travel through the county on its excellently paved highways and fine railroads, are as a general thing not too greatly impressed by what they have seen; however, if once they stop off for only a short time, the charm, beauty and unusualness of the country captivates them.
Many who have come on a visit, have bought homes or ranches in the mountains and valleys and live here part-time or all year around.
One of the real and wonderful assets of this area, is its people, who have a warm, openhearted hospitality among themselves and toward others. Something difficult to explain and which seems to have departed from many parts of our country, it is found here tangible in the way they live and meet people with a smile and a hearty handshake.
The 1950 Census gives Cochise County a population of 31,438. This figure may be larger now because of the influx of Easterners.
The naming of the county for an individual, namely the Apache Chief Cochise, is unique among the other counties of the state. The name is also spelled Cocheis or Cheis, which means hickory wood.
The town of Cochise, Cochise Strong Hold and Cochise Lake were named for him.
Cochise (1804-1874) was a great man, respected by his enemies and for many years chief of the Chiricahua Apache Indians who lived and fought in the Chiricahua and Dragoon Mountains. They raided east and west of these strongholds as well as into Mexico.
A certain section of the rocky skyline of the Chiricahua Mts. seen from Rhyolite Park in Silhouette against the sky, shows the reclining profile of the head and shoulders of an Indian. This is known as “Cochise’s Head.” Looking at the opposite side of this formation, which is plainly visible from the Animas Valley of New Mexico, it is easy to visualize the head and body of Cochise as though on top of the mountains, reclining as in sleep, making a massive and enduring and appropriately located sarcophagus of a great Indian.
Cochise County is situated in the southeastern corner of Arizona, Grand Canyon, Baby or Valentine State. It is square in shape, roughly seventy-five by eighty miles on the sides.
The area of 6,170 square miles is four times that of Rhode Island, three times that of Delaware and is larger than Connecticut.
It is half the size of Belgium and twice the area of Luxemburg.
Ninth in area among the counties of Arizona, Cochise is bounded on the south by the State of Sonora, Mexico; on the east by Hidalgo County, New Mexico; on the north by Graham County and on the west by Santa Cruz and Pima Counties.
The State of Sonora, Mexico, which lies south of Cochise County, has great charm and attractiveness due to its distinctively different atmosphere and way of living from that of our own country.
There are two cities on the border in Mexico, Naco and Agua Prieta, which are always worthy of a visit. Further south there are many beautiful, interesting, old missions which were established three or four hundred years ago by Spanish Missionaries. These are worthy of inspection as are the towns in which they are located.
In time good roads will be built which will make it possible to see these places.
The county is noted archaeologically for the fact that it contains several cultural sites of hunting and food gathering humans of the stone age, of a date probably earlier or as early as any in the United States. They lived here about ten or twelve thousand years ago when the country may have been at sea level.
Spaniards coming from the south traveled along its river eighty or more years before the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. The result of this impact on some of the population, language and place names still persists.
The Fauna of the Sonora Desert Region is varied and numerous. There are large and small game animals such as mountain lions, bear,lynx, ocelot, wild cat, gray fox, mule deer, white tailed deer, also a small Mexican deer weighing not much more than fifty pounds, javalina or wild hog, the head of which is considered a worthwhile trophy, (the meat is inferior), racoons, porcupines, ringtail cats, skunks, rabbits, prairie dogs, kangaroo rats, squirrels, chipmunks, pack rats,mice, shl’ews, various bats and many kinds of birds such as: Quail, wild turkey, Mexican doves, Sonora pidgeons, mourning doves, whitewing doves, many kinsd of wild ducks, mergansas, mud hens, heron,cranes, roadrunners or chaparral cock, king fishers, several species of owls, Mexican eagles, buzzards, raven, bluejays, bluebirds, whipoorwills, orioles, butcher birds, mocking birds, swifts and swallows as well as many kinds of small birds such as flycatchers, song birds, humming birds and others. The thick billed parrots usually found only in Mexico have been observed in the southern end of the Chiricahua Mountains.
Fair game laws are enforced and certain sections of the county are closed to hunting and are designated as game refuges.
The Pacific migratory fly way passes through the county and many birds which are not normally found here may be seen during the spring and fall seasons as they fly north or south. The tops of the mountains serve these birds as stopping places or islands in an ocean of valleys.
Some bird study by ornithologists, with repaying results, has been done but much more could be and needs to be done.
In the valleys and foothills there are in addition to the animals mentioned, rattlesnakes, bullsnakes, coral and king snakes, also a rare green slender eighteen inch long rattlesnake found only in the mountains above five thousand feet elevation. There are scorpions,vinegarroons, tarantulas, lizzards, horntoads, gila monsters, trap doorspiders, black widow spiders, chuckawallas; and a search has been made for a never found and perhaps nonexistant, two-legged lizzard.
The above named creatures and others are found in the mountains and valleys where they may be stalked by gun, trap, camera, binocular or sketch book and pencil, giving thereby great pleasure and chances for recreation for lovers of nature.
Bones of pre-historic animals such as the mammoth, horse, bison, camel, and others have been found in the valleys in draws madeby recent erosion.
There are at least two hundred kinds of butterflies and more than one thousand kinds of moths which with other insects are collected here by naturalists because some of them are rare and unusual. An entomologist’s paradise, where, because the climate is so mild, unfortunately insects thrive and multiply as in few localities, to do damage to crops, trees, bushes and plants. All kinds of grasshoppers are especially plentifUl and numerous.
On the Fort Huachuca game reserve there is a herd of two hundred buffalo, all that remain after a state-sponsored buffalo hunt.
Also present there are pronghorns or antelope. Beaver have been set out in the mountains and some of the mountain streams have been stocked with trout.
In the county there are a number of large, lofty, lovely ana verdant mountains, the tops of which are covered by a very diverse flora such as Ponderosa pines, Spruce, and other coniferous trees as well as many trees found in the temperate climate zone. Snow falls here in the winter and often lies for a time making it possible to indulge in skiing and toboganing.
On the slopes of the mountains there are found manzanita, pinon, madrona, ash, spruce, sumac, aspen, live and decidous oak, ample, mountain mahogany, alligator juniper, cedar, walnut, cypress, deer brush, sycamore, cottonwood and other trees and brush as well as many flowering plants and grasses.
In the wide gently-sloping dunn colored valleys there are patches of mesquite, catclaw, ocatilla, creosote and sage brush, Spanish bayonet, and yucca. The “yucca elata” belongs to the lily family, and it and the yucca moth are entirely dependent on each other; the yucca for pollination and the moth for food for its larva. It is known also as the soap weed or tree because the roots are sometimes used by the Mexicans to wash clothes; they call it amole or soto1.
The night blooming cereus has enchantingly beautiful and exquisitely sweet smelling flowers. There are also a great variety of cacti with their bright vari-colored waxey flowers among them the saguaro or giant cactus and cholla which are found in the northwestern part of the county in the San Pedro Valley. Spineless cactus have been introduced as cattle feed, but have not prospered.