Monday, June 27, 2016

Globe, Arizona, park showcases ancient Indian ruins

Besh Ba Gowah Archeological Park
Besh Ba Gowah is one of the more significant archeological finds of the Desert Southwest. The ruins were constructed by Native Americans at least eight centuries ago.

The people who built the 164-room stone structure were originally known as Hohokams, the same tribe that built an amazing irrigation system in 300 BC in Casa Grande, Arizona. The Globe, Arizona, Hohokams assimilated other native cultures into theirs so much so they lost their Hohokam identify. For lack of anything better, archeologists called them Salados. The Salados traded far and wide, often with tribes as far as a thousand miles away.  A collection of the Pacific Coast seashells they traded for can be seen at the on-site museum.

The Salados built a warren of rooms and buildings; some of the buildings were two stories high. Two of these buildings have been restored. Stones for the complex were hauled from nearby Pinal Creek. Except for the restored buildings, the remaining walls aren’t very high. Doorways are only a couple of feet high. Some of the rooms are small, while others are bigger. They were used as living quarters and for storage, among other uses. Today, some of the rooms are filled with wildflowers and cactus, rather than home furnishings, some of which you can see at the museum.

Globe was founded around 1875 as a mining camp. This resulted in the Apaches giving the place the name of Besh Ba Gowah, which translates as “metal camp.”

The Salados disappeared from Besh Ba Gowah around 1400 AD, about 50 years before the Hohokams disappeared from Casa Grande.

The on-site museum is small, but excellent. A 140minute video provides an introduction to the site. The museum displays artifacts, such as highly decorative pottery, found in the ruins. It also has a replica of what the ruins might have looked like when they were used by the Salados.

The City of Globe operates the museum and archeological park today. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; it is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It’s located at 1324 South Jesse Hayes Road. Turn onto Saguaro Drive from Highway 60. Stay on the winding round for about 1.4 miles, then make a right turn onto Jesse Hays Road and follow the signs. There’s a city park with picnic facilities across the parking lot from the ruins.
See more pictures of Besh Ba Gowah on mty YouTube channel.
Besh Ba Gowah ruins as they might have looked originally

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Be prepared for driving emergencies in the desert

Sonoran Desert
As my husband is fond of saying, southern Arizona has only five temperatures: hot, hotter, hottest, hot as hell and hotter than hell.

If you’re going to be spending any time here, even it’s just mostly driving through, you need to be prepared, especially in the summer. You never know when emergencies will crop up, which is something we learned the hard way.

We were traveling across the Sonoran Desert on Interstate 8 from Yuma to Tucson in late July one time. It was 125 degrees in the shade, only there was no shade on the freeway. Our pick-up broke down, shutting all electrical systems down, leaving us with no air conditioning or the ability to put the power windows down for any breeze that might come along. Since we were barely on the freeway shoulder, we could only open doors on the passenger side.

Luckily our cell phones were charged and we could get service.  When we called for roadside assistance, we were told it would be about two hours before help arrived almost 40 miles from the nearest town. It was so hot, we were both sweating so profusely, you could wring liquid out of our clothes. We had a cooler full of bottled water, so we could replace what we lost, but we couldn’t get our little dog to drink any. He gasped furiously for air, then collapsed, so still we thought we’d lost him.

More than an hour into our wait, a state patrolman stopped and insisted on taking us to a gas station four miles away where we could wait in shade for the tow truck. I shudder to think what would have happened to us if the patrolman hadn’t come along.

So what did we learn from this?

  • Make sure your car is in good working condition if you’re traveling through the desert in the heat of the day.  You can’t anticipate breakdowns, but if you know there’s something wrong with your vehicle, even if it seems minor, get it fixed before you start cross the desert. The repair shop said the part that broke, disabling our truck, rarely did so, but the breakdown turned a 3 -1/2 trip into one that lasted almost eight hours.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged. My husband and I purposely use different cell service providers, just in case one of us can’t get service, the other one probably can.
  • Make sure you have a good roadside assistance plan and call for help immediately.
  • Make sure you have lots of bottled water, preferably in a cooler, with you. And drink lots of it. Becoming dehydrated will only add to your problems. Even if we’re just going to Tucson, 45 miles from where we live now, we’ll take a cooler containing 6-8 bottles of water with us.





Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fort Apache: from 19th century fort to school

First Officer's Quarters
If you’re a fan of John Ford’s 1948 Western, Fort Apache or the 1950s kids; TV series, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, you’re in for a shock when you visit the real thing in the White Mountains of central Arizona.

Nothing remains of the original fort, established in 1870 as Camp Ord. Indeed, the oldest building in the complex is the First Officer’s Quarters, constructed in 1893. The ranch-style log cabin is now a museum devoted to the fort’s history. It was abandoned by the U.S. Army in 1922 and was turned into a boarding school for Indian children. A school still operates on the site today, though children are now bused in.

Plaques in front of the buildings explain what the buildings were used for in the days when the complex was a fort and boarding school.  The fort complex is now an historic site administered by the White Mountain Apaches.

The camp was renamed Camp Apache in 1871 to honor the Apache tribe. It was established to protect the White Mountain Reservation and the Indian agency. But soldiers soon found themselves embroiled in war for many years with these very same Indians. The unrest worsened in the next few years, heating up in 1876 when the government moved the Chiricahua Indians from Fort Bowie in southeastern Arizona to the San Carlos Reservation that adjoined the White Mountain Reservation.

War with the Indians went on for 15 years, finally ending with the capture of Geronimo in 1886. A monument to the soldiers killed at the August 30, 1881, battle of Cibicu Creek stands in the yard surrounding the First Officer’s Quarters.

Admission to the historic site  is charged; the fee also includes admission to the tribe’s nearby cultural center and the Kinibisha ruins.  

The cultural center is known as Nohwike' Bagowa or House of Our Footprints. It’s small but does a good job of explaining the history of the White Mountain Apaches. A video plays inside a wickiup, but the narrative is only in the tribe’s native language with English subtitles.

Fort Apache is located on Highway 73, a 24-mile detour off Highway 60/77 that connects Globe and Showlow.  Casual travelers may not think the detour is worth it. Fort Apache will appeal most to visitors with a strong interest in Native Americans and the Indian wars of the Old West.