The town of Pearce was established in 1894 by miner and cattleman James Pearce. The remains of the Old Town of Pearce are located out Ghost Town Road. Prominent amongst the remains is the Old Pearce General Store which was built in 1896. It is only open to the public on very specific occasions. The Old Pearce General Store is listed on the Hational Register of Historic Places.
Also in the parking area, they have a monument to Cochise. Cochise died in 1874 somewhere here in the area he loved. He was secretly buried here by the Chokonen Band, his follwers. Only one person outside the band was allowed to attend the ceremony and know the spot of his burial, Thomas Jeffords.
Near the main parking area, and the restrooms, is the trailhead for the .12 mile Inetrpretive Trail. This trail offers quite a bit of information about Cochise, the Chiricahua Apache, and the area. The Dragoon Mountains where Cochise Stronghols is locatedwere formed 30 million years ago. The towering cliffs, granite formations, deep canyons and hidden springs made it a natural fortress that the Apache used to their advantage. The high ground was excellent for spotting the oncoming soldiers. The Chiricahua established Guuta (villages) at strategic locations that provided food, water, and a good view of the terrain. A Guuta might consist of several Kuugha (houses). The Kuugha were made of tree branches and grass and could be constructed quickly if they needed to move to another Guuta. In 1861, LT Bascom of the US Army confronted Cochise and his "Chokonen" band near Apache Pass and made false accusations. Bascom captured Cochise who later escaped. That began a 14 day siege that killed 9 Apache and 15 others, starting the Apache Wars. The wars continued until 1872 when General O. O. Howard arrived in Arizona and enlisted the help of Thomas Jeffords to negotiate with Cochise. From 1872 to 1876, while problems did arise, the reservation seemed to be a success partly due to Jeffords. Strife increased when Cochise died in 1874 and got worse in 1876, when the Chiricahuas were forced to move to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Between 1877 and 1886 they escaped several times but were always recaptured. They were then sent to reservations in Alabama and Florida. Today the Chiricahuas live on the San Carlos and Mescalero Reservations. Look at the pictures to see the beauty of the area.
The area near Pearce-Sunsites is full of mountain formations made of Monzogranite where Cochise and his band used to hide from the US Army. It is a very rugged and beautiful place. They have a .12 mile interpretive trail with a number of informative signs about the history of the area; a .5 mile nature trail; and a rather challenging 5 mile hike up and down the mountains leading to the stronghold itself. Camping facilities are available. Parking costs $5. NOTE: The road leading to the stronghold turns to dirt after about a mile. The road is frequently rough. It is impassable after a rainstorm so check the weather.
When you first enter the parking area for Cochise Stronghold you will see a Self-Service Pay Station. Here you put $5 for parking or $10 for a campsite into an envelope and stuff it in a slot in a metal pole. You tear off a tab from the envelope and that is your proof of payment.
The second place in Pearce currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.
About 500 feet from the entrance to the Interpretive Trail is the trailhead for the Nature Trail and Cochise Trail.
If the weather is too bad to hike in Cochise Stronghold, you can always stop at the Sunsites library to read a book, or update your pages on VT.