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Arizona Forts - Page 2

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Fort Lowell, ArizonaFort Lowell (1862-1891) - A part of the system of forts guarding southern Arizona during the years of Apache hostilities, this one served more as a supply depot and administrative center than as a combat base. It occupied two sites; the first of which was little more than a tent city, established in May 1862 just east of Tucson by California Volunteers who had captured the town from the Confederates. In March, 1873 the post was relocated seven miles northeast of town, where permanent adobe construction began. Its role encompassed escorting wagon trains, protection of settlers, guarding supplies, patrolling the border and conducting offensive operations against the Western and Chiricahua Apache Indians.  


With the end of the Apache Wars the army saw no further need for Fort Lowell and in 1891 the post was abandoned.


From 1904 to 2009, the Santa Rita Hotel was located on the first site before being torn down and replaced with a high rise. However, the second site has been maintained by the Arizona Historical Society and Pima County. There are several noteworthy remains including 7 feet high ruins, the hospital and one cavalry and two infantry barracks. Now called Fort Lowell Park, the commanding officer's house has been reconstructed and furnished it in period style, now housing a museum.


Outside the park, about 200 yards to the west on Fort Lowell Road, is the sutler's store, now a private residence; and three officers' quarters, in varying condition, on privately owned land. Immediately to the east are the ruins of the guardhouse. Fort Lowell Park is located at the corner of Cracroft and Fort Lowell Road in northeastern Tucson.


Contact Information:


Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association
5230 E. Fort Lowell Road
Tucson, Arizona 85712


Fort McDowell - See full article HERE.


Fort Mojave, ArizonaFort Mojave (1859-1890) - Originally established as Camp Colorado in April, 1859, the fort was situated on an eastern bluff  overlooking the "Mojave Road" or "Beale's Road" and the Colorado River crossing that had become popular with settlers and miners headed for California. Established to provide shelter for emigrants and a base of operations against the sometimes hostile Mojave Indians.


By order of Brigadier General Edwin V. Sumner, the fort buildings were burned down in May, 1861, so they would not fall into Confederate hands. Just two years later; however, the fort was rebuilt and re-garrisoned in May, 1863, to once again protect travelers and to cultivate friendly relations with the Indians.


On September 29, 1890 the War Department turned the post over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs  and all troops were evacuated to other posts. A military-style boarding school was then housed in the old fort buildings that schooled various Indian tribe members from Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The school continued until 1935.




The site today displays just a very few ruins atop the bluff overlooking the Colorado River just south of present-day Bullhead City. It is now part of the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation.


Fort Thomas, 1882Fort Thomas (1876-1891) -  After Fort Goodwin was closed, the Gila Valley was still in need of protection and a new post on the Gila River was established in the summer of 1876, about six miles east of old Fort Goodwin. The post was initially named Camp Thomas in honor Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas, who had died in 1875. Two years after it was built, the post was moved to the present-day town site of Fort Thomas. At its peak, 27 buildings were situated at the fort, all constructed of adobe by the soldiers. Like its predecessor, Fort Goodwin, the post was also afflicted with malaria outbreaks throughout its existence. The post was re-designated as a fort in 1882 and became the regimental headquarters for the 3rd U.S. Cavalry that same year.


Following the Battle of Cibecue on August 30, 1881, right up until the final surrender of Geronimo in 1886, Fort Thomas was an active military post. However, with the Apache Wars over, the troops gradually began to be moved to other posts and the fort began to decline. It was over to the Department of the Interior in the spring of 1891.

The town that grew up around the fort, which took its name, had a poor reputation in its earliest days – filled with brothels and saloons. The small, unincorporated community continues to be populated today, but of the fort there are no remains.  
The site of the first Camp Thomas is marked with a bronze plaque reading "Geronimo." On the north side of U.S. highway 70 between the abandoned village of Geronimo and the present day town of Fort Thomas. The site of the second Fort Thomas is about one mile west along U.S. highway 70 on the across the highway from the Fort Thomas high school. There are no visible remains except for a few stones with mortar between them on a low hillside to the southeast of the original site.


Native America: Voices From the Land DVDFort Whipple (1863-1913) - Established in November, 1863 one-mile northeast of Prescott in the Chino Valley, the U.S. Army post served as Arizona Territory's capital prior to the founding of Prescott. It was named for Lieutenant Amiel W. Whipple, who led a military expedition into the area in 1853-54 and established the first access routes to nearby gold fields, but died in 1863 of wounds received during the Civil War. The post was moved in May, 1864 to Granite Creek, closer to Prescott. Its purpose was to protect miners and settlers from Indian raids and for years, the cavalry and infantry soldiers stationed at the fort participated in  a number of Indian skirmishes. By 1869, the quickly erected buildings were condemned, torn down, and new buildings replaced them.


The next year, the Whipple Barracks became the Headquarters for the Military Department of Arizona in April, 1870.  At the same time, the post was serving as a tactical base for the United States Cavalry during the Indian Wars of 1864 to 1882. The post also served as General George Crook's District of Arizona headquarters in 1882.

Once the Indians were "under control,” the post lost its importance and was discontinued in 1898. However, just four years later it was re-garrisoned in 1902 and new officers’ quarters built in 1904. The post closed for the last time on February 15, 1913. It was reactivated as a U.S. Army Hospital in 1918 to treat World War I veterans. It ceased being a military installation in 1922 and was later made into a Veteran’s Administration Hospital.


Today, the fort grounds are much reduced – from 1,700 acres to about 150 acres and many of the old buildings have been obliterated by modernization. However, other historic buildings remain and the Fort Whipple Museum stands out among the buildings, with its colorful painted exterior beckoning to visitors. Situated in one of the officer quarters buildings on a hillside south of the hospital, the museum is a joint project between the hospital and the Sharlot Hall Museum in downtown Prescott. The museum features exhibits that trace the history of the post and once a month, local re-enactors stage living-history presentations in and around the museum, dressing as traders, miners and soldiers.


The museum is open free of charge Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The old fort is one mile east of Prescott on US 89.

Presidio of San Ignacio de Tubac (1752-1848) - Also called Fort Tubac, this Spanish built presidio was established by the Spanish Army in 1752 at the site of present-day Tubac, Arizona. For some 50 years prior, the Catholic Church and the Spanish military had been the vanguards of Spanish frontier expansion throughout New Spain. The Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino, established missions from 1687 to 1711 in an attempt to christianize and control the native peoples in the area. He established the Mission San Cayetano de Tumacácori nearby in 1691. See full article HERE.

Presidio de San Bernardino (1776-1780) - This Spanish fortress was founded in 1776 about 18 miles east of present-day Douglas, Arizona. It was established by Hugh O'Conor, as part of a network of presidios and missions in present day southern Arizona. However, these forts were under constant attack from hostile Apache Indians and were unable to adequately protect themselves, much less build and protect any surrounding missions. The presidio was abandoned just four years later in 1780. In 1883, a temporary post was established by the United States Army at or near the presidio site and was known as Camp San Bernardino Springs.



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.



Also See:

Forts Across America

Arizona (main page)

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