Chiricahua National Monument

History
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Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument (Larry D Fellows/Arizona OFT)
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The Chiricahua Mountains were the homeland of the Chiricahua Apaches. From these mountains the Apaches, led by Cochise and Geronimo, launched attacks against the tide of pioneers for more than 25 years. Their resistance slowed, but did not stop, settlement, and when Geronimo's band surrendered in 1886 and was removed to a distant reservation, a new way of life took over. Among the first pioneers to settle in the area were Neil and Emma Erickson, a Swedish immigrant couple. Their "little home in the foothills of the Chiricahuas," located in remote Bonita Canyon, included a farm and cattle ranch. The only neighbors were the Stafford family, who lived in a log cabin close by.

By the 1920s, one of the Erickson's daughters, Lillian, and her husband Ed Riggs, had turned the homestead into a guest ranch. Lillian, the strong willed "Lady Boss," named the ranch Faraway Ranch, because it was so "godawful far away from everything." Together she and Ed explored the Chiricahua wilderness, with its "wonderful cliff formations." They built trails and took guests on horseback trips to see the "Wonderland of Rocks." In 1922, they showed photographs of the rock formations at county fairs and chambers of commerce and promoted the idea of a national park. Two years later, in 1924, Chiricahua National Monument was established to preserve the area's natural wonders.

Each year thousands of hikers, nature lovers, and bird-watchers enjoy the solitude of Chiricahua's pristine wilderness. When it was originally set aside as a national monument, Chiricahua encompassed 11,000 acres of pinnacles, spires, columns, and balanced rocks. The 1984 Arizona wilderness bill added acres to Chiricahua, bringing the acreage to roughly 12,000. Today, miles of maintained day-use trails provide an enjoyable close-up opportunity to experience the "wonderland of rocks."


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 Mar 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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