“No Statue of Liberty
Ever greeted our arrival in this country…
We did not, in fact
Come to the United States at all.
The United States came to us.”
― Luis Valdez
A picnic packed, out the door jaunt of a day, that included Fort Verde State Historic Park. Promoted as ‘ the best preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona.’
The first surprise turned out to be that there is no fort.
A well maintained white picket fence marks the boundaries. According to one of the many information boards available during a self guided tour:
Building materials were a concern. Many forts were located in barren, treeless areas and building materials were in short supply. Whatever wood was available was needed in the construction of buildings.
The army was also concerned about Troop morale. Huddling behind a wall was not considered inspiring for the troops. One general in the Dakota Territory wrote, “It is better for troop morale to depend on vigilance and breech-loaders for protection than to hide behind palisades.
The second surprise was just how interesting, firing of the imagination, the self guided tour was for me. There are engaging displays…with a balanced mix of artistic, artifact, photos, tools, correspondence, and time correct technologies accompanied by clear, easily understood explanations. Found myself drawn in, captured really, by the narrative of the military history of the Verde Valley area. The displays of these items, some familiar and others quite curiosities humanized for me the military personnel, miners, ranchers, and settlers involved. The collection of old photographs fill in the narratives well. How vastly different the concept of how to live in this area differed from the people already established here. Definitely suggest it as a place to visit if you are visiting Sedona, to take the young ones, and to take visitors who are visiting, if you already live locally.
Several original buildings are preserved, filled with period displays, enabling visitors to get a sense of what was necessary and valued by the soldiers and their families who lived there. Whether the guns at the ready beside thin blanketed cots, four to a room in the Bachelor Officers quarters:
Or the separate quarters for the Commanding Officer and his family:
The ‘Striker’, an enlisted man whose responsibilities included the chores, laundry, cooking, and child care also lived in the Commander’s Quarters. This duty included better living quarters, and an extra $5.00 dollars a month salary, a substantial increase, bringing his monthly pay to $13.00.
There was also a Surgeons Quarters, where antiseptic procedures were new ideas under development, there were no antibiotics or vaccines, and amputation was the treatment of choice for many injuries and infections. Also an identical building to the Commanding Officer’s Quarters served as Married Officer’s Quarters, only with four families sharing the same space. At full function there were 22 buildings, the few remaining cared for and brimming over with history.
Part Two of the Fort Verde State Park Photo/Essay, arriving soon, will move to the original Military Headquarters
where I learned and will share with you, just why the U.S. Army, ….a maximum 306 enlisted men, 11 officers, 19 civilians, and 36 Apache Tribal Members acting as Scouts, came together here in the Verde Valley between 1871-1891.
An excellent day to one and all.
Here’s Where To Find Part Two