The second, and most famous, Fort Bowie was built near the first one in 1868. This was much more substantial than the temporary first Fort Bowie. Fort Bowie served well in the battles against the warring Chiricahua Apache until their surrender in the 1880s.
In 1858 a Stage Station was built here as a rest stop and a place to change mules or horses and enjoy a quick meal of bread, beans, meat and coffee for 50 cents. The route through Apache Pass was discontinued in 1861 due to increased tensions with the Chiricahua Apache.
There were actually two Fort Bowie's in this area. The first one was established by 100 men from the 5th California Volunteer Infantry in 1862. It was a crude affair consisting of a four foot wall surrounding a collection of tents and a stone guardhouse. There were also a few other buildings outside the fort wall.
One of the earlier white men coming to Apache Pass was Lieutenant John Parke who came through here in 1854 to survey a route for the railroad. The next year, however, Parke found an easier route north of here between the towns of Bowie and Willcox and in 1880 the railroad was built through that point. Here you see wher Parke camped when he came through this area.
From 1875 to 1876, Indian Agent Thomas Jeffords maintained an office in the Indian Agency here near Fort Bowie. Jeffords was one of the few Indian Agents that was not corrupt and was fair to the Apache. Jeffords became friends with Cochise and was the only person allowed to attend his funeral rites that was not a member of Cochise's Clan.
Soldiers and Apaches were not the only people living in the Apache Pass Area. Miners were here starting in 1864. Here you see the ruins of the home of Jesse L. Milsap, who mined in this area in the early 1900s.
The post cemetery for Fort Bowie actually predates the fort. It was established in 1862 after the battle of Apache Pass when members of the California Volunteers were buried here. This cemetery housed soldiers, daependents, civilian employees, mail carriers and three Chiricahua including Geronimo's two year old son.
The Chiricahua, and the Butterfield Stage, came to this area becuase of Apache Pass and Apache Springs. In the high desert the availability of water is very important. Apache Spring used to be an abundant source of water. In later years it has essentially dried up. Do not drink the water from the spring any more, because its purity is no longer guaranteed.
On 15 and 16 July 1862 there was a big battle here at Apache Pass. There was a column of 96 California Volunteers were marching to the San Simon River to establish a Supply Depot. As they approached A[pache Pass, Cochise along with his ally Mangas Coloradas and about 160 warriors attacked the rear of the column. The volunteers counterattacked and drove the Chiricahua into the hills. They followed the Chiricahua but found the Chiricahua had established positions around Apache Springs. The fighting raged for two days. This battle led directly to the establishment of Fort Bowie.
The main way through the Chiricahua Mountains in this area was through Apache Pass. The Chiricahua Apache, and specifically the band with Cochise liked to camp near the pass and Apache Spring. In 1861 a boy from one of the nearby ranches was kidnapped and some livestock stolen. It was assumed that Cochise and his band had kidnapped the boy. On 4 February 1861, 2LT George M. Bascom was dispatched to find Cochise and to return the boy and the livestock. While meeting Cochise, Bascom ordered him held captive until the boy was returned. Cochise, knowing his people were not involved was very angry and escaped. This incident resulted in 11 days of fighting with both sides capturing and killing the others. This resulted in an intense hatred between the US Cavalry and the Chiricahua that lasted until 1872 when General Ulyses S. Grant sent General Oliver O. Howard and Indian Scout Thomas Jeffords to make peace with the Chiricahua. Jeffords became a trusted friend to the Chiricahua.
In 1857 the United States Government commissioned John Butterfield to carry mail ober a 2800 mile route from St. Louis to San Francisco. The route of the Butterfield Overland Mail took it thorugh the heart of the land occupied by the Chiricahua Apache and the famous Cochise. For over two years the stagecoaches passed through Apache Pass on a safe, but still uncomfortable, journey. Butterfield kept this uneasy alliance with the Chiricahua by giving them gifts in exchange for firewood and safe passage. However, given the different cultures, conflict was inevitable.
The Chiricahua Apache lived in this area because of the plentiful game and the easy availability of materials for making their homes. The villages usually consisted of clusters of house called "wickiup". These wickiup were made with a simple frame of wood and then covered with beargrass or animal hides. They also built an open air shelter that they used in hot weather. These wickiup had the advantage of being quick to build, tear down, and move so the Chiricahua could follow the game or leave when threatened.
Upon marriage, the man entered into the woman's family and became responsible for supporting her relatives. The women made the wickiup and maintained the village and the men hunted the game.
Anyone who has seen very many of my pages know that I always say "Your first stop should be the Visitor's Center". Well not this time since the Visitor's Center is at the end of the 1.5 mile hike making it impossible to make that the start point. There are restrooms and water available and there is a small bookstore.
Your first stop at Fort Bowie will be the trailhead at the parking area. The trail is 1.5 miles each way, and is fairly easy unless you take the ridge trail which is 1/4 mile and very steep and rocky.
One of the buildings outside the walls of the first Fort Bowie was the Living Quarters for the ladies that did the laundry for the soldiers.