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Although Spaniards entered present day Arizona as early as 1539, the embrace of European civilization was not felt until the 1690s with the appearance of Jesuit missionaries. Sporadic at first, the influence of the Church through the Jesuits and later the Franciscans predominated over other facets of Spanish society for almost the first century after contact. The fearsome Apache kept other Spanish settlers from the area until a revised policy toward that tribe brought four decades of relative peace beginning in the 1780s.

Mexican independence in 1821 brought change. Missionaries born outside Mexico were soon forced to leave the field. In other areas the national government lacked the money and interest to continue Spain's Apache pacification program. The impoverished Sonoran state government made a slight effort to protect the retreating citizenry from Apache raids before lapsing into several decades of periodic civil war. By the 1840s only Tucson and Tubac existed as small population centers.

When the United States gained the territory south of the Gila River by the Gadsden Treaty of 1854, the village of Tucson had perhaps 300 inhabitants who hardly dare venture beyond the pueblo walls for fear of the Apache. Indian problems discouraged settlement at any distance from the town until 1872. Starting in that year, however, people began to settle as ranchers and farmers in the area that is now the Rincon Unit of Saguaro National Monument. Mining and prospecting, which began a few years before in the Tucson Mountains, increased after 1872. These two ventures, agriculture and mining, played the greatest role in the area that would become the two units of Saguaro National Monument.

A. The Spanish Period

The first Spaniards to enter what is now southern Arizona merely passed through the area on their way to locate the treasure of the cities of Cibola. In 1539 Fray Marcos de Niza became the first European to traverse the area. As he followed the course of the San Pedro River, de Niza encountered the small villages and irrigated fields of the Sobaipuri - one of the three Piman-speaking tribes which inhabited the region. His report of the riches of Cibola resulted in another expedition led by Francisco Coronado in 1540. He, too, traveled along the San Pedro as he crossed the area. Since they found nothing of value there or at Cibola, the Spanish lost interest in the region. [1]

It was not until the end of the seventeenth century that Spanish civilization reached into the northern part of New Spain and poised on the edge of the northernmost section which by that time had come to be called the Pimeria Alta (Figure 1). This region encompassed present-day southern Arizona south of the Gila and west of the San Pedro rivers and extended into the northern portion of the state of Sonora, Mexico as far as the Rio Altar and Magdalena valleys. It was to this area that the Jesuit padre, Eusebio Kino, came in 1687 to establish missions. In his twenty years of exploration in the Pimeria Alta, he encountered three related tribes in the Arizona part. These peoples, the Sobaipuri in the eastern area, the Pima in the north and central portion, and the Papago in the central and western section, were basically sedentary and lived in rancherias except for those Papago in the extreme west. In that area the people were nomadic food-gatherers. [2]

Figure 1. Portion of Herbert Eugene Bolton's "Map of Pimeria Alta, 1687-1711" (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Padre Kino did not enter the area of present day southern Arizona until 1691 when he followed the Santa Cruz River valley north to the rancheria of Tumacacori. He came to that village at the request of the Pima Indians who lived there. These people, like their bretheren of southern Arizona, were a relatively peaceful people who were interested in learning about the Christian religion. Since Kino lacked the manpower, he left no missionary at the village. In fact he did not return to the Santa Cruz Valley until 1694. On this occasion he followed the river north to its confluence with the Gila. On the way he stopped at the rancheria of Bac which was a village about nine miles south of present day Tucson. Over the next eight years Kino visited these villages many times, laying the foundation for a church at Bac in 1700. [3]

Although Padre Kino had difficulty supplying sufficient priests for the missions, the Jesuits had a program, financially supported by the civil authorities, which had the ultimate end of turning the Indians into full Christian citizens of the Spanish Empire. To accomplish this goal, Indian villages were structured into orderly societies that would require the inhabitants to modify their old ways. It was a church-centered community designed to be largely self-sufficient. Missionaries taught a simple catechism of Christian concepts which they felt were necessary for the Indians to know. In addition the priests supplied cattle and wheat, which was a new grain, and taught the use of new tools and agricultural techniques. In doing so the missionaries attempted to convince the Indians to accept a daily routine of field and herd work. [4]

The Jesuits never had sufficient manpower to properly supply their Santa Cruz Valley missions until 1732. After that date they had the luxury of instructing the Indians without having what they considered the corrupting influence of Spanish settlers. The reason no Spaniard inhabited the valley was increasing raids by Apaches. These people had begun to attack Spanish settlements in New Mexico by the middle of the seventeenth century and in 1698 expanded their area of assaults when they entered the Pimeria Alta. Partly for this reason and partly because of a Pima uprising in 1751 the Spanish established a presidio (fort) at Tubac in 1752. These soldiers were to provide protection for the missionaries, but they proved to have little effect. [5]

About the time the Spanish king expelled the Jesuits from his New World domain in 1767, the Sobaipuri could no longer withstand Apache attacks. (Figure 2 shows the relative position of the Apache in 1765.) They left the San Pedro Valley and moved westward to meld with the Pima and Papago. At the same time the Tucson rancheria came under periodic assault partly because it was located at an entry point into the Santa Cruz Valley. [6]

Figure 2. Portion of Kaart van het Westelyk Gedeelte van Nieuw Mexico en van California," 1765. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

In the face of continued warfare the Franciscans, who replaced the Jesuits in 1768, confined their efforts in southern Arizona to the Santa Cruz Valley and in particular the missions San Xavier at Bac and Tumacacori. Soon after the first Franciscan reached Bac the Apaches plundered the village. Several subsequent raids resulted in a loss of cattle. [7]

Apache problems did not go unnoticed in Spain. In 1772 King Carlos III set forth new regulations by which additional presidios would be established on the frontier to halt Apache incursions. As a result of this decree the Tubac garrison was moved to Tucson in 1776. The presidio was established on the east bank of the Santa Cruz across the river from the Pima/Sobaipuri rancheria and named San Agustin de Tucson. [8]

The rearrangement of presidios did not prevent Apache raids. As a result the new Viceroy of New Spain, Bernardo de Galvez proposed a different approach to the problem in 1786. Since it was clear that the object of the Apache raids was not to drive the Spanish from the region but was merely a means of maintaining themselves through plunder, Galvez decided to increase military pressure on them and at the same time offer food and supplies if they would settle in peace near a presidio. If kept well supplied, they would have no need to obtain food and animals through raids. One additional facet to the plan departed from the usual Spanish approach to Indians which dictated that they should be Christianized and turned into model citizens. Galvez hoped to corrupt those Apaches who settled near a fort by supplying them with liquor. [9]

The increased use of force combined with the offer of supplies worked. From about 1787 into the late 1820s a period of peace occurred. By the 1790s a number of Apaches had settled at the Tucson presidio. The tranquility resulted in the settlement law of 1791 which was designed to encourage families to move to the frontier where land was provided. Spanish officials hoped that villages would develop around the forts. In addition a Spaniard of means could obtain a grant of ranch land. Two years before the settlement law Torbio de Otero had taken advantage of the calm and asked for a piece of ground near Tubac. He received his land. Soon after the opening of the nineteenth century others asked for grants of land. The Buenavista ranch was established south of Tumacacori in 1806. Tomas and Ignacio Ortiz received a grant for their Canoa ranch thirteen miles north of Tubac in 1820. Their father already had established at Arivaca in 1812. The largest ranch, the San Bernardino, covered a huge area of southeast Arizona and Sonora. It reportedly had 100,000 head of cattle in the 1820s. The tranquility allowed an increase in the mission herds at San Xavier and Tumacacori as well. In 1820 the padre at the latter location sold 4,000 cattle for money to continue construction. [10]

The settlement law attracted Spaniards to settle at Tucson. In 1804 there were 37 Spanish and 200 Indians farming near the presidio At the time there were 4,000 cattle, 2,600 sheep, and 1,200 horses at Tucson. By 1819 the old pueblo's Spanish population increased to 62. Cattle had grown to number 5,600. [11]

While stock raising became a major Spanish industry in southern Arizona, others took to mining. Although minerals had been discovered near Arivaca and in the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains in the eighteenth century, Apaches had made mining difficult. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, however, men returned to those areas during the peace and mined some of the richer deposits which were mostly silver. The ore was reduced in crude smelters. [12]

B. The Mexican Period

After several years of struggle the Mexicans won their independence from Spain in 1821. The area of southern Arizona remained for a few years as it had under the Spanish. The Mexicans, however, had no interest or money to continue the Spanish pacification program with the Apache. Despite this situation it took a decade before those Indians returned to raiding. The Spanish had not been totally successful in corrupting them. [13]

The national government in Mexico City ignored the situation on the country's northern border and left it to the state governments to solve the Apache problem. At first the Sonoran officials offered a feeble military response and then made an attempt to achieve peace treaties with the Apache. When this effort failed to pacify them, the state government began a system of paying bounties for Apache scalps. To make matters worse the eruption of sporadic civil wars in Sonora, particularly between the Gandara and Pesquiera factions, kept politicians preoccupied with other matters for over a decade. As the 1840s began nearly all the Mexican population had fled south from southern Arizona. Only two settlements existed, Tucson and Tubac, where a few people managed to live under the protection of the presidios By 1848 Tubac was abandoned. [14]

The 1840s brought Americans to southern Arizona on their way to California. The first group to arrive were soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke. The United States had been at war with Mexico almost seven months in 1846 when Cooke entered Arizona. His orders were to survey a wagon trail across the area from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Coast. He entered Arizona at approximately the southeast corner and followed the present day international boundary to the San Pedro River. Turning north he proceeded downstream to the area of present-day Benson. From there he left the river to travel northwest to Tucson. Leaving Tucson, he followed the Santa Cruz to the Gila River. His route through Arizona became known as Cooke's Wagon Road (Figure 3). [15]

Figure 3. Portion of "A New Map of Mexico, California & Oregon," 1850, by J.A. and V.P. James. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The next large group of Americans to pass through southern Arizona came, beginning in 1849, on a trek to the California gold fields. Most parties took one of two routes - Cooke's Wagon Road or, by going further west, they reached the Santa Cruz River and followed it north. The trail along that river had served as the major line of communication for 150 years. This area, including Tucson, was still Mexican territory since the peace treaty which ended the war in 1848 set the international boundary at the Gila River. Most travelers found the area deserted. They usually were less than impressed with Tucson where only several hundred people lived in miserable-appearing adobe houses. [16]

An international boundary survey party was appointed in 1849 to mark the border between the United States and Mexico. In 1850 John Bartlett was appointed to head the American group. When he passed through Tucson in July 1852 he observed that it had about 300 inhabitants who lived in decaying adobe homes. The once extensive, rich land near the village was no longer cultivated because of the Apaches. Bartlett found 300 soldiers in the garrison, most of whom had recently arrived. The Sonoran government also had reactivated the Tubac presidio in that year in an effort to decrease Apache raids. [17]

No documents exist to show that any use was made of the Saguaro National Monument lands during the Spanish and Mexican eras. Spaniards and Mexicans, however, undoubtedly traveled through both of the monument units.

C. The American Period

In 1853 the United States approached the Mexican government seeking to purchase land south of the Gila River for a southern transcontinental railroad. James Gadsden, the American negotiator, succeeded in reaching an agreement on December 30, 1853. It was approved in Washington in June 1854. At that time Tucson became American territory. Prior to Gadsden's accord, Lieutenant John G. Parke was ordered to make a railroad survey for a route from the Gila River to the Rio Grande. He arrived in Tucson from the west on February 20, 1854. Here he found that the regular eastbound trail first went south along the Santa Cruz to the mission San Xavier and then proceeded east. Instead of using that route, Parke went due east toward the Rincon Mountains near where a thick growth of cactus caused him to turn aside. It is possible that this was in the area of the present-day Saguaro National Monument. The railroad survey resulted in the selection of two possible routes through the Tucson area (Figure 4). One passed through that village. East of the San Pedro it ran somewhat north of Cooke's Wagon Road. The other went from the Gila River down the San Pedro Valley to the east. [18]

Figure 4. Portion of "Map of Routes for a Pacific Railroad," 1855. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The American military did not arrive in Tucson until late 1856. Mexican forces had remained there waiting to turn command over to the United States. The population probably was around 400 with a small group of Papago Indians living at nearby San Xavier. They, like their non-Indian neighbors, were still suffering from Apache attacks. The American forces did not remain in Tucson. Most Anglo settlers in the area had located to the south around Tubac, so the troops established Camp Moore at nearby Calabasas. In early 1857 the soldiers moved to an area about twenty-five miles southeast of Tubac and constructed Fort Buchanan on Sonoita Creek. [19]

Tucson became less isolated in the latter part of the 1850s. A bi-weekly mail and stage service began to operate from San Antonio to San Diego via El Paso and Tucson in the summer of 1857. The following year the Butterfield Overland Mail took over the route and operated it until the Civil War began in 1861. Although for several more decades Tucson's major link to other areas remained to the south along the Santa Cruz river into Mexico, the mail service, which followed a route to the east similar to that of the present-day Interstate 10, began the link which would tie that city to the United States (Figure 5). [20]

Figure 5. Portion of "Map of Southern Arizona," 1868. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Despite the continued presence of Apaches in the 1860s, Tucson's population grew from 620 in 1860 to 3,224 in 1870. People, however, still tended to settle close to the town for protection. It was not until the Apache truce in 1872 that individuals began to move any distance away. In so doing, they moved eastward and occupied land along the waterways. The Rincon and Santa Catalina Mountains' watershed provided sufficient runoff to irrigate crops such as corn, beans, wheat, and fruit trees until the monsoon rains came in July and August bringing sufficient moisture for the remainder of the growing season. People first moved out along the Rillito River and from there to its tributary the Tanque Verde Creek. They also squatted along the Pantano Wash and its branch the Rincon Wash. Several raised livestock in fairly large numbers at first. In December 1872 Manuel Martinez became one of the first people to move any distance from town. He located his Cebadilla Ranch along the Tanque Verde Creek about eighteen miles east of Tucson at the base of the Rincon Mountains (Figure 6). His ranch was the first in the area adjacent to Saguaro National Monument. He filed a pre-emption claim on 160 acres. Within a few years he cleared forty acres on which he planted 400 fruit trees and some grain that were watered by an irrigation ditch from the Tanque Verde. In addition by 1880 he grazed 200 head of cattle on the surrounding public domain. [21]

Figure 6. Map Drawn May 14, 1883 to show squatters on Fort Lowell Military Reservation. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Several families settled on adjacent land in 1875. Jesus Manguia located about one mile west of Martinez. He did little development on the land until the early 1880s. He concentrated on his thirty acres of irrigated land and raised only a few livestock. West of Manguia, A. Van Alstine squatted on land on which he had forty acres under cultivation. By 1880 he owned 350 head of cattle, most of which he pastured in the San Pedro Valley during the winter and spring. Some of his cows formed a small dairy herd. Bernadino Campos and his married son Matildo irrigated forty acres across the Tanque Verde from Van Alstine. They had 110 cattle. The only other occupants in the immediate area were Guadalupe Martinez and two married sons. They cultivated sixty-five acres on a portion of which they raised 150 fruit trees. He and his sons had fifty head of cattle and cared for another 250 owned by William Oury until Oury moved to the area about 1883. Emilio Carrillo had a ranch about three miles west and one mile north of the Tanque Verde. Only two hired men lived on his property and looked after his 250 head of cattle. Several Papago families squatted in the area and worked as day laborers. [22]

In 1873 Camp Lowell, which had been situated in Tucson, was relocated some ten miles northeast of that town. A military reservation, declared on October 26, 1875, extended just over ten miles east of the fort to the base of the Rincon Mountains. The Army reasoned that it needed such a large reservation to assure sufficient grass on which its horses and cattle could graze as well as having a firewood supply. It also desired to control the streams to maintain a source of water. The settlers along the Tanque Verde found themselves within the east end of the military reservation. This situation resulted in a conflict with the army. In closer proximity to the fort, Emilio Carrillo was the first to engage the army's attention. His cattle interfered with the military livestock by reducing the amount of forage. This situation caused Colonel Eugene A. Carr, the post commander, to exclude all privately owned animals from the reservation. As a result, in February 1881 he ordered Carrillo, Manuel Martinez, Bernardino Campos, and A. Van Alstine to move. An appeal led the Secretary of War to rule in July 1882 that those people living on the reservation could remain, but no new encroachments would be allowed. [23]

21. Register of Settlers Upon the Fort Lowell Military Reservation, ca. 1880, Box 14, Division K, Abandoned Military Reservation File, Arizona, Fort Lowell, Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management, National Archives, Washington, D.C. (Hereafter cited as NA). Register of Settlers Living on or Claiming Land on the Fort Lowell Military Reservation, May 14, 1883, Box 14, Division K, Abandoned Military Reservation File, Arizona, Fort Lowell, Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management, NA.

The narrow escape from eviction had an effect on the reservation inhabitants. Van Alstine and Campos stopped raising cattle while Carrillo and Martinez cut their herds to seventy-five and eighty head respectively. Still, however, Col. Carr felt that Carrillo's reduced herd disrupted the range. Carrillo did not help his case when he was caught cutting mesquite trees on the reservation. As a result, on May 14, 1883 a Board of Officers recommended a course of action toward the reservation settlers. The board's findings led the Secretary of War to reverse his earlier pronouncement and in December of that year he authorized the Fort Lowell commander to summarily remove any settler from the reservation who allowed his livestock to interfere with the grazing of public animals or who cut wood. The pronouncement affected only Emilio Carrillo. He was removed from the reservation and relocated just outside the boundary to the east near Manuel Martinez (Figure 7). A short time later a group of Papago squatters was sent to the Indian reservation at Sacaton. [24]

Figure 7. Portion of "Official Map of Pima County, Arizona, 1893" by George Roskruge. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Despite renewed Apache activity in the early 1880s as well as army efforts to discourage settlement, the population continued to grow along Tanque Verde Creek. Occasionally, when Apaches were thought to be in the area, a troop detachment would be sent to Manuel Martinez's ranch from where they could protect the local populous. Communication was made easier in 1885 with the completion of a road from Tucson to the San Pedro Valley that paralleled Tanque Verde Creek for some distance. [25]

In February 1891 the Tanque Verde settlers no longer had the spector of the army before them, for Fort Lowell was declared abandoned and transferred to the Secretary of the Interior. An act of congress in August 1894 opened the old Fort Lowell land to settlement. That portion in Township 14 South, Range 16 East was not surveyed until 1900—three years after the non-mountainous portion of the township outside the old reservation boundary. The 1897 and 1900 surveys did not produce a great rush to make homestead entries. Within the present-day Saguaro National Monument boundary, Fermin Cruz was one of the first to take the opportunity to receive land. He obtained his patent in 1916. Most applications for homesteads were made in the 1920s. Ultimately, only about fourteen percent of Township 14 had homestead entries. Emilio Carrillo was the most prominent person in the area. His son Rafael took over his Tanque Verde Ranch in 1909. He, in turn, sold to James Converse in 1928. Converse and his wife converted a portion of their property into the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch in that same year. They remained in control until the 1950s. [26]

A number of people, most of Indian background, squatted in the area from around the turn of the century to about 1930. The rude houses of those who had lived within the monument boundary were razed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s. Most of these individuals worked for nearby ranchers. Some cut wood and sold it in Tucson. [27]

The same settlement pattern prevailed along the Rincon Wash south of the present Saguaro National Monument boundary as occurred along the Tanque Verde Creek. In the late 1870s and early 1880s five individuals located along the wash in Township 15 South, Range 17 East (Figure 7). When James Martineau surveyed the area in 1893, he noted that, while most of the township was better suited for grazing, the land along the Rincon was of first quality for farming. The settlers who lived along that stream had cleared parcels of land and irrigated by means of mountain runoff and summer rains. One of the men, Librada Leon, patented his homestead in 1897. Several years later he sold the land to Joseph Mills who relocated to that land from his ranch three miles to the west. These small farms were absorbed into a larger ranching operation by the 1920s. [28]

Eight families settled along the Rincon Wash to the west in Township 15 South, Range 16 East about 1880 (Figure 7). Four of the inhabitants farmed on irrigated land and operated dairies (Benites brothers, Saenz, and Lopez), while the remainder raised cattle. Juan, Narcisco, and Eusabio Telles, owners of the Box Ranch, and Joseph Mills kept the largest herds of cattle. The Telles ranch was the scene of the kidnapping of Octaviano Gastelum on May 22, 1886 by a group of fourteen Apaches who happened to come into the area on a raiding party. Gastelum, the seven year old son of a cowboy at the ranch, was kidnapped after the Indians threw stones at his mother. Then they disappeared northward in the direction of Manuel Martinez's ranch on Tanque Verde Creek. A group of men assembled and rode after the Apaches. After riding about six miles they came upon the Indians who had stopped to cook a freshly killed cow. Surprised, the Apache left young Gastelum and retreated up the slope of the Tanque Verde Mountains firing several shots at their pursuers. Rather than chase the fleeing Indians the men rode to the Carrillo ranch about two mites distant and rested for the night. (Two miles south of the Carrillo Ranch would have placed the incident within the boundary of Saguaro NM, probably on the west side of section 14.) The next day they returned to the scene and followed the Apaches' tracks over the Rincon Mountains and into the San Pedro Valley before ending their pursuit. [29]

In 1911 Fredric O. Knipe purchased Juan Jose Saenz's homestead and developed the Bar S-K ranch. Two years later he bought the nearby Mills ranch (later known as the X-9) and thereby became the largest rancher in the Rincon Valley. Knipe split the property in 1926 when he sold the Bar S-K to Melvill Haskell. In 1928 he sold the X-9 to J. Rukin Jelks. Since that time those ranches have been possessed by various owners. The X-9 continues to operate in Henry Jackson's ownership. [30]

Charles Page settled on the east side of the Rincon Mountains about 1874 and started the Happy Valley Ranch. In the mid-1880s he sold his land to the Vail Cattle Company that owned the huge Empire Ranch near the Santa Rita Mountains. In 1943 Roderick Mackenzie operated the property. It has changed hands several times since that date. [31]

In the last decade of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth centuries the upper portions of the Rincon Mountains became the scene of settlement, timber cutting, summer cabin construction, and army activity. A retired railroad employee built a dwelling near Mica Peak and proceeded to raise potatoes there. From this livelihood came the designation Spud Rock Cabin. After the United States Forest Service acquired the area in 1907 its fire watch personnel used the cabin. The Forest Service replaced the cabin in 1912. The replacement has since collapsed in 1966. [32]

Although into the late 1880s the Santa Rita Mountains served as the sole source for timber and all of the saw mills were located there, some timber cutting of the pine forest atop the Rincon Mountains began about 1887. When Lieutenant G.H.G. Gale ascended Colorado Peak (Rincon Peak) from Mountain Spring in March 1890 to look for a good location for a heliograph station, he encountered a logging trail which led to the top of the peak. That route would have meant timber was brought down the south side of the Rincon Mountains. Frank Escalante, however, told of ponderosa pine being cut for vigas (beams for the ceiling or roof) and brought down the west side of those mountains through Chimenea Canyon. The vigas would be pulled down by oxen. Near the mouth of Chimenea Canyon the men would stop to heat their food at a chimney which exists to this day. [33]

In 1905 Levi Manning, later mayor of Tucson, began to build a summer cabin near Mica Peak. Here, away from the desert heat, he would spend a portion of the summer and would often entertain guests. Soon after the Rincons were added to the Santa Catalina Division of the Coronado National Forest in mid-1907, Manning then leased his summer retreat for several years. He, however, did not use the cabin after 1907. The Forest Service and National Park Service have since used the structure to house fire watch personnel. [34] Additional information on this important building appears in Chapter Five.

Beginning in 1890, the army conducted heliograph maneuvers in the Rincon Mountains. Practice with this signaling device stemmed from its use during the Apache campaign in 1886. At that time the heliograph seemed to demonstrate great efficiency for field communications. After the Geronimo action ended, Lieutenant W.A. Glassford, a signal corps officer assigned to Department Headquarters at Fort Whipple near Prescott, made an effort to keep an interest in the heliograph as a practical military instrument. In 1887 Glassford traveled the territory mapping the region to indicate the best points for stations. Interest, however, declined after he was ordered for duty elsewhere. When Major William J. Volkmar became chief signal officer of the Department of Arizona in 1889 he decided to test the practicability of establishing heliograph stations to cover the department. [35]

Preparatory to holding field operations in May 1890, army personnel made a reconnaissance of Arizona and southwestern New Mexico to ascertain the best station locations. First Lieutenant G.H.G. Gale made a survey of Colorado Peak (now called Rincon Peak) in the Rincon Mountains beginning March 18, 1890. He contacted Fort Lowell from that point the following day and, by prearrangement, Bowie Station on March 23, and Huachuca Station the next day. He found Colorado Peak to be an excellent heliograph site, for it commanded a large field of view except to the northwest. It also had abundant grass and a spring which appeared to have a constant flow (Figure 8). [36]

Figure 8. Portion of a map showing proposed heliograph lines and stations to be operated during the field exercises of May 1-15, 1890. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Two days before the concerted heliograph practice began, First Sergeant Peter Bartsch arrived on Colorado Peak from Fort Lowell with seven other men. He began transmitting to Fort Lowell and Table Mountain on April 30. When practice officially began on May 1, Bartsch opened communication with Bowie Peak and Fourr's Ranch at Cochise Stronghold. The next day he contacted Fort Huachuca and finally the Mt. Graham Station near Fort Grant on May 6. Bartsch was ordered to Fort Huachuca on that day with the large station heliograph. Corporal L. P. Gouldman took over command of the Colorado Peak station. Although stations at Table Mountain, Lowell, Huachuca, Cochise, and Bowie could contact him, Gouldman had a problem communicating with the more distant stations like Bowie using the small instrument he had. Problems arose on May 9 when the cook informed him that the spring near the camp had gone dry. When he reported the problem to Fort Lowell the next day, Gouldman was ordered to abandon the station and reestablish another at some other point on the Rincons. His first choice, which he called "A", did not prove to be a proper location. The next day, May 13, Gouldman moved one mile to the southeast to a place called Saucer Peak. This site "B" as well as "C" inhibited contact with some stations (Figure 9). When Gouldman closed the heliograph at sunset on May 15 and prepared to return to Fort Lowell, he concluded that the best area for signaling was Colorado Peak. [37]

Figure 9. Portion of a map showing the heliograph lines and stations in Arizona and New Mexico operated during field exercises May 1-15, 1890. Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Colorado Peak (present-day Rincon Peak) was the heliograph site at the beginning of the exercise. Midway through the practice, the heliograph was moved farther north in Rincon Mountains as shown by the designation "Rincon Mt." (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The success of this 1890 field exercise was expressed in the Army and Navy Journal.

By far the most important event in connection with the Signal Corps of the Army has been the unprecedentedly successful establishment and maintenance of an elaborate system of heliograph signaling in the Department of Arizona. The credit for this work deservedly belongs to Asst. Adjt.-Gen. Wm. J. Volkmar, who in addition to his staff duties, voluntarily assumed those of the Chief Signal Officer of the Department. Maj. Volkmar undertook the task of practically testing the scheme of covering, with an inter-related system of heliograph stations, such parts of his department as were of special military importance. About 1,000 miles of heliograph lines were operated and 33 officers and 129 enlisted men took part in this remarkable practice during which nearly 4,000 messages and 100,000 words were exchanged. The regular transmission and interchange of messages were had on greater ranges than have ever before been known in any military practice or, indeed, by any method. Previously 75 miles constituted an extreme range for military heliograph work but in this practice messages were successfully sent and answered over ranges, respectively, of 85, 88, 95, and communication had at 125 miles. [38]

The achievements of the exercise placed the heliograph among the military signaling devices as a potent factor in "civilized warfare." The new Signal Corps school at Fort Riley, Kansas featured the heliograph in its course of instruction. Here, it was determined that proficiency in the use of that instrument would be achieved when an individual could send and receive eight words per minute. Every five letters were counted as a word. [39]

The American Morse Code, as prescribed in General Order 59 of June 28, 1889, was used by the Signal Corps during both the 1890 and 1893 field exercises in Arizona. Later a joint Army and Navy Board approved a modified Myer Code for use in visual signaling. This regulation took effect on October 1, 1896. [40]

With improvements made to the heliograph instruments, the Signal Corps conducted another field exercise from February 6 to 16, 1893. Colorado Peak was again chosen for a station. Since Fort Lowell had been abandoned for almost two years by this time, presumably men from Fort Huachuca occupied Colorado Peak without problems on this occasion. The exercise proved that with little notice men could occupy unfamiliar territory and promptly establish heliograph communications. [41] Although General Nelson A. Miles first used the heliograph on the Northern Plains in the latter 1870s, its use in the Geronimo Campaign in 1886 led to the subsequent field exercises of 1890 and 1893 in southern Arizona which was viewed as the ideal location to experiment with instruments that used sunlight to send messages. Before the heliograph era ended, rendered obsolete by wireless radio, it had been used in the Spanish-American and First World wars.

The west side of the Tucson Mountains differed from the Rincon Mountains. With a much lower elevation this range only rarely received any snowfall. Consequently, no stream flowed with sufficient regularity to promote agriculture. As a result, no farmers settled there. A small number of cattle and horses from nearby ranches grazed there, but this area of less moisture did not sustain any large ranching operation. Those few individuals who periodically inhabited the area now within the Tucson Mountain Unit of Saguaro National Monument were either miners or mine employees.

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Last Updated: 23-Jun-2005