JOIN US JANUARY 24, 25 and 26, 2023 IN TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA
Learn about the importance of Tombstone, Arizona and the mining activities that created the boom and bust economies of the past. These historic trails are worth exploring!
Would you like to join us? We look forward to meeting you! Our Southern Trails Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association would like you to join us for a fun filled event with field trips, speakers, books, maps and adventures!
Lieutenant Colonel Cooke’s battalion of the General Kearny’s Army of the West composed of 500 men and about 30 women in 5 companies set out to establish a Wagon Road from Santa Fe, New Mexico to San Diego, California. At Santa Fe they left behind about 100 men and all the women in a “sick detachment” that wintered at Pueblo near Bent’s Old Fort on the Santa Fe Trail.
While General Kearny followed a pack trail along the Gila River, the road builders took a course further south through Guadalupe Canyon into what is now Mexico coming north to the springs at San Bernardino, then south again, and north to Ash Creek where Smith, a teamster, died and was buried. The trail veered south again coming north near modern Naco to follow Green Bush Draw to the San Pedro River following the west bank north to the site of the Battle of Bull Run. This last section would later be used as the stagecoach road between Benson and Bisbee. Lt. Col. Cooke named the Babocomari River, Bull Run, and it was here that the battalion fought its only battle with wild bulls. After the Civil War, the battle was renamed the Battle of the Bulls. The battalion continued on scouting the site of the future Mormon settlement, St. David, then heading west to Tucson following roughly the same course as the Overland Mail would take from 1858 to 1861.
Emigrants sometimes followed the trail through Guadalupe Canyon staying in Mexico until they reached the Santa Cruz River south of Tubac and Tucson, then coming north through those towns and following the course described above from there to the Colorado River. Other emigrants used Granite Gap to San Simon Cienega and Apache Pass while the Overland Mail used Doubtful Canyon to the San Simon River crossing and went on to Apache Pass. While the Overland Mail used a direct westerly route to Dragoon Springs and San Pedro Crossing (modern Benson), emigrant went north to Ewell Springs in the Dos Cabezas Mountains staying north of the Willcox Playa to Croton Springs crossing the San Pedro about 8 miles north of Benson at Tres Alamos.