Visited 2 Nov 2009 – The remains of Fort Bowie are cradled in the Apache Pass of the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. It is not an easy place to get to but, for fort buffs, it is well worth the effort.
The post was originally constructed in 1862 to protect the strategic pass against hostile Chiricahua Apache Indians led by Chochise and Geronimo. The pass was originally the “most dangerous” stop along the Butterfield Stage route which operated between St. Louis and San Francisco from 1858 to 1861. During the U.S. Civil War two engagements with Hostile Apache Indians, the Battle of Apache Pass (1862) and the Bascom Affair (1861) caused the Army to establish Fort Bowie on 28 Jul 1862. The fort grew to be a modern army post with about 38 buildings by the time it became unnecessary and was abandoned in 1894. When the Fort was abandoned much of the movable property was removed by local residents and what remains today is adobe and rock ruins.
The site is a National Historic Site staffed and administered by the National Park Service who maintains a field office and a visitor center at the site. Access to the site is by a 1.5 mile trail (one way) from an unmanned trail head. Getting to the trailhead involves travel along some twisting gravel roads. The easiest access is from the town of Bowie on I10 (12 miles) and you can also access it from the town of Wilcox also on I10 (30 Miles) but the road from Wilcox involves a long stretch of gravel road through the pass. We were not comfortable with leaving the car at the unmanned trailhead and opted for the handicapped access to the site. Our discomfort with the unmanned trailhead came from the remoteness and the warning signs regarding UDA’s (UnDocumented Aliens).
Once at the site we were treated to a grand view of the fort ruins. The setting is beautiful and enough of the fort remains to give you a sense of what it was. It also helps that the post flag pole has been restored and flies the U.S flag. The Visitor Center is large and contains a lot of information about the post. The ranger was very knowledgeable and gave me some great photo location tips. The site brochure is one of the best I have seen with a large depiction of the fort in the 1890′s as viewed from the overlook hill behind the fort. You can climb to the crest of the overlook hill with the brochure in hand and visualize all of the remains below.
This post was written by JohnStanton on November 3, 2009