Cochise Stronghold (Rockfellow Dome)
Cochise Stronghold Canyon lies in the heart of the Dragoon Mountains about 30 miles southwest of Willcox, AZ. This is a beautiful woodland area lying in a protective rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs which were once the refuge of the great Apache Chief, Cochise, and his people.
Marker near the "room" where Cochise resided when at this stronghold.
Nancy and I traveled here right after we had brunch with our friends from the Bayfield Bunch Saturday. We drove into the Stronghold about 1:00 PM and stayed for about two hours, walking a trail that gave an account of the Stronghold and how it was used by Cochise and his many warriors and their families.
The western mountain wall of the Stronghold
The surrounding landscapes and rocky encirclements were used to the Apache's advantage when they were pursued by enemies. Cochise's burial site has never been found and has been kept a secret all these years. There are stories and legends that have been around for many decades, but supposedly, only one man outside the Apache circle closest to Cochise, Thomas Jeffords, his blood-brother and special Indian agent for the US, know where his specifically buried. This Stronghld was the one place most locals feel is the likliest.
Current picnic/campground area in the flats of the Stronghold, next to a very large creek.
The campground/picnic area is approximately 20 acres and it is crowded with many oak and cottonwood trees as well as a variety os many bush/shrub/flora & fauna. It is such a peaceful environment and it becomes clear to any visitor why this place was Cochise's favorite.
More of the western mountain wall of the Stronghold
I closed my eyes and just tried to bring a vision to my mind with sound and presence. I heard many children running through the many trees and bushes, playing, laughing and doing things that made their Mothers smile and make conversation with each other. I smelled the smoke of many fires in the Stronghold, Mesquite coals cooking the fresh game, clothes being washed along the creekside against the large stones, young warriors chipping away at the stones bringing them to sharp edges and points, the shafts being honed straight and strong, maize being ground into the rock-pocks. Oh my, I almost felt a part of the community.
Richard J. Shaw, wanted to befriend Cochise and the Apache Nation.
The Shaw Family home still stands near the open fields of the Stronghold.
Shaw Family home
I'm not sure if anyone lives here now, but the property is maintained and used for local research studies by academia.
The front yard of the Shaw Family home
The area just north of the campground area, and basically the front yard of the Shaw House, is approximately 50 acres of grassland. If we put our imagination towork once again, imagine this area as the maize fields, nut trees, grape vines growing up a variety of stakes and small poles, squash and other veggies growing in various places all around. And, just down there by the creek, a large corral of Paint ponies. Just imagine! The Sulpher Springs Valley sprawls to the east from this Stronghold approximately 25 miles to the Chiricahua Mountains, and North to South from at least Willcox to the Mexican border and probably beyond. Just awesome!
Our next blog will be about our visit on Sunday to the Saguaro National Park in Tucson. Until then, Joe & Nancy