Historic Structure Report
Historical and Archeological Data Sections

A History of the Building and Structures of Faraway Ranch
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This study provides a history of the existing structures in the Faraway Ranch Historic District, including their origins, evolution, and uses over the years. At times the writer found it necessary to treat structures that are not extant This was especially true in cases where these structures similar to existing ones led to some confusion in the records. In such cases, some clarification regarding the resource no longer extant was imperative.

Except to provide continuity and understanding of existing structures, the writer did not deal with the "Camp at Bonita Canon." Such a study was beyond the scope and purpose of a Historic Structure Report. A cursory examination of the problems that might be involved in researching such a study led him to conclude that a history of this event would be a subject of far greater magnitude than both money and time would permit. Such a study is best left to a special history or as part of a historic resource study. In any case, archeology excepted, there is today no tangible evidence of any cultural remains of this event other than the "Garfield Fireplace," and this resource has lost the integrity it had as a monument.

The writer was formerly employed with the National Park Service but retired in 1981. He was asked to return to prepare this study--an experience he found most stimulating. In return, he hopes to have contributed in some small way toward the understanding and appreciation of our cultural resources.

Without the help of others, this study would have been difficult. To the staff at the Western Archeological and Conservation Center, especially Roger Meyers, the writer owes a debt of gratitude. Although he had been on the job only one week before the writer arrived to examine the voluminous Erickson-Riggs Collection, Roger was able to lead him to pertinent materials and to be at his service for any kind of assistance. As the report progressed, he continued this support.

The writer is indebted to Regional Historian Gordon Chappell for his indefatigable efforts in guiding him in the proper direction, posing questions at every turn, and in general making sure that no stone was left unturned.

Historian Linda Greene of the Denver Service Center deserves much appreciation for having had confidence in this writer and for handling the many administrative details with which the bureaucracy abounds. She has made his return to the National Park Service a pleasant experience.

Superintendent Ted R. Scott and his staff at Chiricahua National Monument were very kind in making available materials and facilities and for contacting descendants of pioneers in the area. For these efforts, this writer is very grateful. The author also appreciates the assistance of Chief Historian Edwin C. Bearss and historian Martin Conway of the Washington Office for providing data on homesteads, research which took them to records at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. A word of thanks must also go to Jim Glass of the HABS team for passing on his expert knowledged of structural materials. The two days in the field with him were well spent.

Finally, the writer is grateful to Kim Doherty of the Denver Service Center for accomplishing the formidable task of deciphering the author's handwriting while typing the draft.



The significance of the Faraway Ranch Historic District has been thoroughly and completely stated in the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. At the risk of being redundant, this writer wishes to condense the statement of significance entered on the nomination form if only to emphasize the more important aspects of history associated with the several existing structures that form an integral part of the historic district

The structures that make up the Faraway Ranch Historic District have significance in architectural, agricultural, conservation, pioneering, business (farming and guest ranching), and social (immigration and women) history.

The Staffords and the Ericksons, the builders and owners of these structures, were perhaps the first pioneers to settle permanently in Bonita Canyon, part of the Chiricahua Mountains. Neil and Emma Erickson were Swedish immigrants who sought their future in America and were daring enough to challenge the dangers and deprivations that faced them on the frontier.

When Neil became a ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, he used his ranch and especially the Main House for a headquarters. From here he conducted his daily rounds in the adjacent forest. Later his son-in-law Ed Riggs, a member of another pioneer family in the area who lived at the Erickson ranch with his wife Lillian, was instrumental in the establishment of Chiricahua National Monument.

Although Faraway was first established as a farm and cattle ranch, Erickson's daughters, Lillian and Hildegard, later (ca. 1917) introduced a guest ranch business. The guest ranch operation was a relatively new industry to the area. Thus, the female members of the Erickson family made a contribution to both the business history of the region and to women's history.

The Stafford cabin and Main House are architecturally significant both locally and regionally. With its "double log cabin," the Stafford structure is perhaps the earliest building in Bonita Canyon to survive in a good condition. From this house its owner operated a sizable farm whose produce, before the tragic droughts began to take their toll, was sold to the U.S. Army at Fort Bowie and to surrounding settlements. Trees, which at one time bore abundant fruit, still exist as a reminder of better days. The ruins of Stafford's irrigation ditch and the roads he built also remain.

Architecturally, the Main House evolved from a relatively primitive American frontier dwelling of the late 19th century into a comfortable mid-20th century rural ranch headquarters. In its history of expansion and development the house progressed through various stages. It started as a simple picket log cabin. A stone house was soon added. Then later a boxlike structure made of mill-processed lumber, or board and batten, was added. Finally, the house was expanded into an adobe structure with later alterations to suit the needs of its owners. Except for the log cabin, the Main House has retained all its earlier stages in this process of development.

The significance of all other existing structures within the historic district, some of which are in poor condition, lies in the integrity and unity which they give to the ranch. Each structure served a specific purpose, and together with the Main House they gave meaning to the ranch.

Except for the "Garfield Fireplace" in the Main House, none of the existing structures in the historic district have any direct bearing on the U.S. Army "Camp at Bonita Canon" where a detachment of Black cavalry were encamped in 1885-86 to prevent Geronimo and his Apaches from using the canyon. This event, therefore, has significant implications in the understanding of Black history and military history. Archeological and historical studies programmed for the future should contribute enormously to a better understanding of this event in the history of Faraway Ranch Historic District.

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Last Updated: 27-May-2008