A Visit to Camp Rucker in the Chiricahua Mountains

Today we visited the ruins of old Camp Rucker in the Chiricahua Mountains. The weather was cool and blustery, but the rain held off until this evening – so we were very lucky! The journey to get there was through picturesque Arizona basin and range topography, along AZ Rte 191, and at one point ran alongside Wilcox Playa (that is a bombing range). We watched two “warthogs” doing maneuvers and saw their “targets” in the desert (2 mobile artillery emplacements). From there we went east on Rucker Canyon Road until we arrived at Fort Rucker.

Ruins at Fort Rucker

Ruins at Fort Rucker

Old Camp Rucker is located on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains in Rucker Canyon. It is unmarked from the road and a bit difficult to find, but our friends, Shorty and Hazie had found it before, and shared today’s adventure with the two of us plus another couple (Steve and Tina from Ontario). All four of us have been enjoying Shorty and Hazie’s hospitality at their awesome home and unofficial mini RV park at Sunsites, AZ. Also along for the adventure was “Muffy”, Shorty and Hazie’s “heeler” dog.

Muffy Keeps An Eye on Everyone

Muffy Keeps An Eye on Everyone

 

Fort Rucker Adobe Window Framing

Fort Rucker Adobe Window Framing

Camp Rucker was originally known as “Camp Supply” when it was established at this location in April, 1878. In July of that same year, a flash flood occurred and claimed the life of one Lt.Henely and also of one Lt.Rucker, who died trying to rescue him. In December of that year the camp assumed its lasting name of “Camp Rucker” in his honor.

The buildings themselves were fascinating. Primitive building techniques such as cob and adobe are part of our history and always seem like they would be satisfying to build… creating a dwelling from the dirt beneath your feet is an attractive and intriguing concept. Some of the buildings (mostly the ones with sound rooftops) stood the test of time, while others had crumbled to ruins. Some of the buildings (such as the one pictured above) have been stabilized with new adobe and mortar. Also – the buildings have seen many uses by a succession of owners over the years, so some of the construction includes more “modern” materials…such as asphalt tile.  You can walk into the buildings and explore at your leisure without restrictions. Sadly, in a few buildings, people have left the mark of their ignorance with graffiti… but for the most part things remain as they were, with some incursions and modifications by mother nature.

Camp Rucker Bakery Building - Looking In

Camp Rucker Bakery Building – Looking In

Bakery Building at Camp Rucker

Bakery Building at Camp Rucker

Camp Rucker Bakery - Looking Out

Camp Rucker Bakery – Looking Out

Camp Rucker Cedar Shakes Bakery Roof

Camp Rucker Cedar Shakes Bakery Roof

One of the better preserved buildings is the Bakery Building. The roof is made of cedar shakes and provided good protection for the adobe.

Some of the soldiers who were stationed there also seemed to have been “well preserved” as this quote from one of the interpretive signs attests:

“Owing to the many cases of drunkedness at this camp, it is hereby ordered that in the future not more than three (3) drinks of intoxication liquor be sold or given to any enlisted man in any one day by the Post Trader or his employees, at least two (2) hours interval occurring between each drink. A violation of this order will immediately be followed by the expulsion of the offending party beyond the limits of this camp.”

This order apparently applied only to the enlisted men – so one is given to wonder about the officers!

But back to the buildings themselves – and speaking of the officers – here are a few pictures of the Officer’s Quarters…

Camp Rucker Officers Quarters

Camp Rucker Officers Quarters

The Officer’s Quarters had glass windows, a hearth with decorative tile veneer, and a decorative painted ceiling… although the officers who were stationed there when it was still a supply camp did not enjoy the “fancy” trimmings. Those artistic details would be added by later owners of the camp – particularly by artists Theodore and Mathilde Hampe. Still the Officers Quarters building was a cut above the stockaded tent structures enjoyed by the enlisted men.

Camp Rucker Officers Quarters

Camp Rucker Officers Quarters

Muffy Checks out the Officers Quarters

Muffy Checks out the Officers Quarters

Tiled Hearth in the Officers Quarters

Tiled Hearth in the Officers Quarters

Decorated Ceiling in the Officers Quarters

Decorated Ceiling in the Officers Quarters

Beginning in the 1880s, after Camp Rucker was abandoned, the camp was reincarnated as a ranch and had a succession of owners through the early 1970s, when Camp Rucker was finally transferred to the Forest Service.

Old Camp Rucker Ranch Info Sign

Old Camp Rucker Ranch Info Sign

Ranch House at Old Camp Rucker

Ranch House at Old Camp Rucker

Root Cellar? at Old Camp Rucker

Root Cellar? at Old Camp Rucker

Water Tank at Old Camp Rucker

Water Tank at Old Camp Rucker

Inside the Stable at Camp Rucker

Inside the Stable at Camp Rucker

Corral at Old Camp Rucker

Corral at Old Camp Rucker

Weathered Corral Fence Posts

Weathered Corral Fence Posts

After having lunch at the picnic area nearby, we headed back the way we came but didn’t get very far before running into a large road block… with Shorty’s guidance, Muffy sprang into action to do what she does best, and we were soon on our way again.

Shorty and Muffy Herding Cows

Shorty and Muffy Herding Cows

This is a beautiful area, but this part of the state is a well-known corridor for smugglers and illegals from Mexico… so be careful if you venture here – you have to be on the lookout at all times for sketchy looking characters such as this one!

Shorty Herding a Very Sketchy Character

Shorty Herding a Very Sketchy Character

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Southwest, Uncategorized

2 responses to “A Visit to Camp Rucker in the Chiricahua Mountains

  1. Very cool adventure! ❤

  2. Anonymous

    I want to take my family in our RV into Rucker Canyon this weekend. How rough are the roads?
    Did you hike in to Camp Rucker or were you able to drive in on the road?

    thanks,
    Brian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s