There’s a very unique sort of comfort in unchangeable places; a tree that sheltered you all through childhood standing tall and timeless where it has always stood, a bathroom that still has all the same grit in it’s corners from the ever-eroding adobe walls and a badly painted picture of a dog opposite the mirror that your mom let you paint when you were 6, a cactus growing out of a boulder perched eternally on the hillside where you played an intricate game of pretend with your herd of breyer horses. Every time I go home I feel intensely grateful for the steadfastness of its landscapes, the way it transports me so entirely to so many different stages of my small life.
Rising up from the desert like bones or a giant’s teeth, Fort Bowie National Historic Site is all that remains of the 19th-century adobe-walled fort built at the frontlines of the bloody and brutal Apache Wars. The outpost was established in 1862, but the fort itself wasn’t constructed until two years later.
The Apaches were never happy about their land being invaded so abruptly, but the war was likely instigated in 1861 by the capture and arrest of the Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise, who was falsely accused by Lieutenant George Bascom of kidnapping a child from a local rancher. Cochise eventually escaped, but in 1863 his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas was captured and killed despite a proclaimed truce by the Americans. Mistrust was established and the fighting escalated.
A year later, major conflict over a nearby source of water and a route through the mountainous Apache Pass gave the military a reason to construct this fort. It operated until 1886, when another Chiricahua Apache leader, Geronimo, was forced to surrender to American forces and most of the Apaches were banished to faraway Florida.