Historic Resource Study
NPS Logo


E. Manning Cabin

In 1905 Levi H. Manning built a cabin in the Rincon Mountains for use as a summer home. When that area of the Rincons was attached to the Santa Catalina Division of the Coronado National Forest in 1907, Manning leased the land from the Forest Service for several years, but no longer used the cabin. It was reconditioned in 1922 by the Forest Service for use in housing a fire guard and trail crew. The National Park Service adapted it to its fire patrol needs when it inherited the fire watch duty over the monument in 1940. It was used during the fire season until 1958 when a break in its use occurred until 1977. Manning Cabin represents both the development of summer homes in the mountains and the utilitarian need to house fire control personnel. The structure is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

F. Spud Rock Cabin Site

At some point around 1890 a man of German descent named Bock retired from the railroad and moved into the Rincon Mountains where he raised potatoes. The name of his home derived from this crop. How long he resided there remains unknown. For several years after the Forest Service acquired the area, the cabin was used to house fire guards, but in 1912 that agency replaced the cabin with a new one built nearby. Only the site of the cabin remains. Although the site represents mountain settlement without tangible remains and more information it does not meet the requirements of a National Register property. Instead, it could be interpreted in the monument history program. The area on which the cabin stood has been designated a camp site.

G. Freeman Homestead

Homesteading played a role in the area around the Rincon Unit. The earliest homestead applications were made in the 1890s after the township subdivision lines had been surveyed. These early homesteads were located just outside the monument boundary along the Tanque Verde Creek and Rincon Wash. By 1910, however, entries began to be made on homesteads within the monument. Fermin Cruz was the first to receive such a homestead patent on October 18, 1916 for a portion of section 10, T14S R16E. At least nine others followed in making their homestead claims beginning in the early 1920s, with the last to be made in October 1930. These individuals included Rafael Carrillo, Ray Harris, Manuel Benites, Harry Riley, Christobel Valenzuela, Henry Grabenheimer, Gilmor Failor, Safford Freeman, and Jane Wentworth. The claims of Valenzuela and Grabenheimer were cancelled by the late 1920s for they had not maintained residency.

The Freemans claimed that their homestead entry in section 5, T15S R16E, for which they applied in the summer of 1929, was the last entry in the area. On that basis and because a mound of melted adobe remained from a living room wall, the homestead was nominated to the National Register in 1972, but disallowed. Their homestead entry was not the last one to have been made. Jane Wentworth applied for a stock raising homestead on October 17, 1930 for all of section 8, T14S R16E. She received a patent in 1938.

While the Freeman story may be interesting, they, like the other homesteaders in the monument, did not occupy the site on a year-round basis. Instead, they soon moved to Tucson and only lived on the homestead the minimum time required per year to receive a patent. As with the other people, they did not raise stock or produce anything on the land, but rented the property to James Converse so that he could graze his cattle there. While homesteading could be a topic for interpretation, the National Register reviewers were correct to disallow the nomination of the Freeman homestead. It, however, has been placed on the Arizona State Register of Historic Places.

H. Chimenea Canyon Chimney

In an interview Frank Escalente stated that the chimney in Chimenea Canyon had been used by individuals who brought large, ponderosa pine vigas down from the Rincon Mountains. These individuals would heat their food there. He supplied no dates for the timber cutting activity. He also did not state if the chimney were constructed by the viga cutters or if they had used an already existing chimney. While it may be a curiosity, a dearth of information on the chimney precludes its nomination to the National Register. If timber cutting is developed as an interpretive theme, then the chimney could be incorporated into that story.

I. Second World War Military Airplane Crashes

During the Second World War three planes crashed in the Rincon Mountain portion of Saguaro National Monument. The first, a B-24D heavy bomber, went down on July 30, 1943 about three-fourths mile east of Juniper Basin camp site while on a training mission. A commercial scrap firm salvaged nearly all of the remains of the aircraft between April and June 1960. The second crash occurred on November 28, 1944 when a UC-78C Cessna trainer impacted during a rainstorm one and a quarter miles northeast of Happy Valley Lookout. It was salvaged for parts in 1979 by the Pima County Air Museum. The third plane, a B-25D medium bomber, flew into the east side of Wrong Mountain on January 20, 1945 during a snowstorm. It exploded and burned, and was further destroyed by the United States Army Aircorps which used explosives on it. Since two of the planes have been salvaged and little remains of the third, none merit nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

J. Military Heliograph Activity

Although the exact sites in the Rincon Mountains from which heliograph signals were transmitted and received during two United States Army Signal Corps field exercises could never be discovered today, the story of such activity should be included in an interpretive program. The exercises held in May 1890 and February 1893 represented a renaissance in the use of that device for field communication. Even though the military had first used the heliograph on the Northern Plains in the latter 1870s and again with some success during the Geronimo Campaign in 1886, interest in that signaling instrument had waned. It was to the credit of Major W.J. Volkmar that, in his capacity as Adjutant General of the Department of Arizona, he succeeded in reviving interest in the heliograph in 1889. Through his efforts an extensive field exercise was conducted in 1890 and resulted in the successful testing of one of the most comprehensive networks of signaling ever attempted to that date. It demonstrated that the heliograph had become a potent factor in "civilized warfare." As a result, when the Signal Corps instruction school opened at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1891, the heliograph was one of the featured instruments. Again, in 1893, an extensive field exercise was conducted with equal success. Thus the Rincon Mountains played an intangible role in the rebirth and use of the heliograph.

K. Livestock Grazing Woodcutting Cactus Removal and Unrestrained Horseback Riding as Related to Ecological Destructiveness

A great deal can be done to interpret the ecological destructiveness caused by man and his animals over time to such a fragile, semi-arid area. The original appearance of the desert could be presented followed by a recounting of the vegetation changes on the monument brought about by livestock grazing, woodcutting, cactus removal, and today's horseback riders. In addition the erosion caused by such activity and the scarring of the landscape with roads and traits in association with those enterprises could be presented.

L. Archeological Resources

Considerable archeological evidence of prehistoric human occupation exists in the monument. Although a few sites have been disturbed by roads and trails, most of the sites are in good condition. The wilderness designation in the Rincon Mountain Unit and the unobtrusive nature of most of the archeological site should serve to continue to protect them. In addition most of these sites fall within the Rincon Mountain Foothills Archeological District which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. This district comprises an area of twenty-five square miles with approximately 110 known sites of a variety of types—lithic scatter, remains of permanent settlements, and evidence of irrigation canals which exhibit a chronological sequence to historic times.

Although prehistoric occupation occurred mainly in the Rincon Mountain Unit, archeological sites in the Tucson Mountain Unit, such as temporary campsites and petroglyphs, attest to the use of that area as well. Archeological surveys/evaluations have yet to be completed for the Tucson Mountain Unit. Upon completion, a number of archeology features will undoubtedly be found to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 23-Jun-2005