Our plans were to drive to Davis Mountain and Big Bend National Park in Texas, and spend a few days exploring these “life list” places. Accommodations were full, so reservations were made almost 100 miles away. As we neared departure day and time, the weather forecast predicted winds gusting above 50 miles per hour; not too safe in a motorhome on a highway. Consequently we changed plans at the last minute, and opted to drive to near Sierra Vista to Fort Huachuca where I have privileges at the RV park, Apache Flats.
Fort Huachuca has a storied history. It is a US Army installation established in 1877 as Camp Huachuca to counter the Chiricahua Apache threat and secure the border with Mexico—some 15 miles south—during the Apache Wars. In 1882, Camp Huachuca was redesignated a fort. General Miles controlled Fort Huachuca as his headquarters and against Geronimo in 1886. After the surrender ofGeronimo in 1886, the Apache threat was essentially extinguished, but the army continued to operate Fort Huachuca because of its strategic border position. In 1913, the fort became the base for the Buffalo Soldiers, the 10th Calvary Regiment, which was composed of African Americans. It served this purpose for twenty years. It is now the home of the US Army Intelligence Center.
With several hours of daylight remaining, we drove to Tombstone in Cochise County, Arizona, famous for Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. It became one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier, growing significantly into the mid-1880s as the local mines produced $40 to $85 million in silver bullion, the largest productive silver district in Arizona. Its population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than seven years. Under the surface (play on words?) were tensions that grew into deadly conflict. The mining capitalists and the townspeople were largely Republicans from the Northern states while many of the ranchers were Confederate sympathizers and Democrats. The booming city was only 30 miles from the U.S.–Mexico border and was an open market for cattle stolen from ranches in Sonora, Mexico, by a loosely organized band of outlaws known as The Cowboys. The Earp brothers—Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan, as well as Doc Holiday, arrived in December 1879 and mid-1880. The Earps had ongoing conflicts with Cowboys and cattle rustlers Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy Claiborne. The Cowboys repeatedly threatened the Earps over many months until the conflict escalated into a shootout on October 26, 1881. The historic gunfight is often portrayed as occurring at the O.K. Corral, though it actually occurred a short distance away in an empty lot on Fremont Street. This is definitely a tourist trap offering so much potential, but falling far short in every category except souvenir shops.