Friday, February 21, 2014

Texas Canyon, Arizona

Located about 20 miles east of Benson, Arizona, along I-10 east lies the Dragoon Mountains, a geological landmark studded with massive batholiths.  I-10 has several of these formations from San Diego eastward frequented by big rock enthusiasts, each with its own tale to tell. This particular site at Texas Canyon Rest Area encompasses the peaks once used by Apache resistance leaders. 

Cochise, for instance, made his last stand there.

Although several bands of Apache had been involved in a century long uprising, it took the murder of several family members by ill-informed Lt. George Bascom to unleash the fury of Cochise. Wrongly accused of the kidnap of a rancher’s son, the strapping Cochise had offered the ambitious young Lt. his services in investigating the boy’s disappearance among the other Apache bands. Bascom, however, never doubted Cochise’s guilt and attempted to arrest the warrior.

Although Cochise managed to slice his way out of the Lt.’s tent, his brother and nephew who had accompanied him into the Lt.’s camp had not been so fortunate. Bascom had them both executed and Cochise retaliated by taking and killing hostages of his own and for 11 relentless years he fought against both the Americans and the Mexicans alongside Geronimo, deploying a gruesome guerrilla-style warfare that laid waste to southern Arizona.

Texas Canyon winding between the Dragoon Mountains was utilized by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach company, and therefore, ideal for ambush. Today, bus loads of children scramble on the crest top boulders that once gave the warriors a vital advantage. At least until the Army had introduced the Howitzer at the 1863 battle at Apache Pass.

Although Mangas Coloradas, Geronimo’s Chief and Cochise’s father-in-law, was captured during that fateful battle and subsequently murdered, Cochise and Geronimo escaped and continued their resistance simultaneously fighting from within their mountainous stronghold. Cochise was killed in the Dragoon Mountains eleven years later but it would take another twelve for Geronimo to decide to surrender.

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