Great reading about the Gila
Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver
J. Frank Dobie. 1939. 365 pages. Bramhall House, New York
Out of print
Dobie tells the many versions of the many legends of lost mines and treasure in the mountains and canyons of New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico. An entertaining, humorous read by the greatest storyteller of the Southwest. Any book by Dobie is a good read.
Apaches and Mimbrenos
Dan L. Thrapp. 1964. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
Apaches and Mimbrenos
Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts (1964)
The Conquest of Apacheria (1967)
Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches (1974)
All by Dan L. Thrapp. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK.
Thorough and well researched, these books taken together are perhaps the definitive history of the Apache wars. Thrapp wrote that these three books were conceived as "a triad designed to depict and make understandable the prolonged and intricate interplay of events that constituted the Anglo occupation of that portion of the Southwest the early Spaniards called Apacheria." Thrapp writes with sympathy for the deprivations suffered by both soldiers and Apaches. On the title page of Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches he writes:
"For Victorio and his fellows - They did not understand - who could? - how to live at peace with the aggressive whites, and so in desperation were driven to war, and like the brave men of King's Mountain, the Alamo, Gettysburg, and Pork Chop Hill, they died, among them some of America's finest sons and daughters."
Black Range Tales
James A. McKenna. 1936. 300 pages. The Rio Grande Press, Glorieta NM 87535
"Uncle Jimmie" McKenna was a miner in the Kingston area and an early resident of Gila Hot Springs. His book, dictated in his later years, is the story of an ordinary working stiff with a touch of wanderlust on the mining frontier. Uncle Jimmie took a trip up to the Gila Hot Springs for a few baths in 1883, liked the area, and homesteaded just downstream of the present location of the Wilderness Lodge for a couple of years. He was no doubt reminiscing about the river near here when he wrote the following words: "Bears are very curious, and I have known them to risk their lives to nose around a camp fire or the inside of a cabin. I often took note of them sporting like a crowd of boys in a good swimming hole. . . On bright moonlight nights I often watched a silvertip back himself slowly into a quiet pool in the Gila River, peering into the water for trout. When a few fish drifted by he would scoop into them with his fore paws and toss them to the bank."
Echoes of the Bugle: Forts of New Mexico
Dale F Giese. 1991. 32 pages. Self-piblished
Out of print
Available at retail outlets in Silver City or from the author (505) 388-1281. Gives the location and a brief description of over 60 frontier military forts and camps throughout New Mexico.
"Fort McLane . . . At the junction of U.S. 180 and the road leading to the Grant County Airport, four miles south of Hurley. . . The most significant incident at the fort occurred after it was abandoned. Captain Edmund D. Shirland and twenty men of the 1st California Volunteers captured the famous Apache leader Mangus Colorado at Pinos Altos in January of 1863 and took him to Fort Mclane, where he was held briefly as a prisoner until killed by his captors, allegedly while attempting to escape."
Hiking New Mexico's Gila Wilderness
Bill Cunningham, Polly Burke. 1999. 339 pages. Falcon
The most recent hiking guide to the Gila. Includes some relatively unknown trails as well as the standards, and a very brief introduction to the area. The descriptions are excellent, maps are adequate, and the elevation profiles for each hike are really neat.
Lieutenant Emory Reports
W. H. Emory. 1951. 208 pages. University of New Mexico Press
Out of print
William Emory was an engineering officer with Kearney's Army of the West during the Mexican American War. His mission - in addition to his soldierly duties - was to collect specimens, take astronomical readings, and "collect(ing) data which would give the government some idea of the regions traversed." Just west of the present day Silver City they met and traded with a group of Apaches headed by Mangus Coloradas. Emory took a few fashion notes. " . . . a large number of Indians had collected about us, all differently dressed, and some in the most fantastical style. The Mexican dress and saddles predominated, showing where they had chiefly made up their wardrobe. . . Several wore beautiful helmets, decked with black feathers, which, with the short skirt, waist belt, bare legs and buckskins, gave them the look of pictures of antique Grecian warriors."
Memories of Santa Rita
Paul M. Jones. 1985. 133 pages. Self-published
Recollections of growing up in a company mining town in the 1920's and '30's. Originally appeared as a series of columns in the Silver City Daily Press. "Have you ever seen a copper railroad spike or copper Crackerjack prizes? They were pretty common when I lived in Santa Rita. We called the water that accumulated in the pit and other places "copper water" but in reality it was copper sulfate of varying strengths. We would often place the metal toys we got out of crackerjacks in copper water and when we retrieved them the next day they would have a nice, shiny copper coating."
New Mexico Road & Recreation Atlas
Allan, et.al.. 1995. 96 pages. Benchmark Maps, Berkeley, CA.
Available at retail outlets throughout NM. A superlative example of the Cartographer's art. Indispensable for the back road explorer, and great for armchair-trip-planning and dreaming of adventures to come. Covers the state with two sets of maps, one shaded to show elevations, the second to show land ownership. More than enough dirt roads to satisfy the most adventurous explorers.
Recollections of a Western Ranchman
Captain William French. 1883. 283 pages. Reprinted (1990) by High-Lonesome Books P.O. Box 878 Silver City, NM 88062
"When I want to learn what the frontier Southwest was really like, I consult William French's Recollections. Whether writing about the region's daily happenings or its natural history, Captain French presents an objective, yet lively, portrayal of his observations in the best tradition of that unique genre of British explorer-participants that includes Sir Richard Burton." - David E. Brown
William French left the British Army to be a rancher just west of here near the town of Alma. He participated in the incredible Elfego Baca affair (locally known as "the Mexican War" he informs us), met the Wild Bunch, and had numerous adventures at a very interesting time in southwest history. He was a participant, but his tales have a droll, one step removed flavor of an observer. Intelligent, insightful, understated.
River of the Sun; Stories of the Storied Gila
Ross Calvin. 1946. 153 pages. The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque
Out of print
An entertaining series of tales having to do with the mountains, canyons, history and people of the Gila drainage. Calvin was an Episcopal minister in Silver City when he gathered material for and wrote this surprisingly un-dated book. His forthright and sensible telling of the phenomenon of arroyo-building, lowering of the water table, and desertification of the Gila drainage in a decade in the late 1880's and early '90's (it was the cows), and his explanation of the continued flooding of the Gila in modern times (it's still the cows) got him run out of town. Calvin is best known for his less entertaining and more philosophical treatise on the Southwest, Sky Determines.
Roadside History of New Mexico
F.L. and R.B.Fugate. 1989. 483 pages. Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula Montana
A well-researched and entertaining read guaranteed to tell you something you didn't know about New Mexico. The book is arranged so that you can read about landmarks and events in a region and also along some popular drives. Many photos and some current travel information. An excellent companion volume to the New Mexico Road and Recreation Atlas (see below under maps) for trip planning.
Tales from the Bloated Goat; Early Days in Mogollon
H.A. Hoover, Notes and Introduction by Francis L. Fugate. 1958. 61 pages. Western Press, Reprinted by High-Lonesome Books, P.O. Box 878, Silver City, NM 88062
Recollections of life in a remote mining town between the years 1904 and 1912. "It is a series of relaxed, intimate glimpses of people, places and events of the past. . ." - from the introduction. Especially interesting for the mundane details of day to day life in a mining town.
The Gila Wilderness; A Hiking Guide
John A. Murray. 1988. 243 pages. University of New Mexico Press
The best all-around introduction to the Gila. Covers the natural history, human history and back country basics as well as more hikes than you'll have time to do on several vacations. Murray's writing style is somewhat stilted, but he's so thorough you can't help but forgive him.
The Gila; River of the Southwest
Edwin Corle, illustrated by Ross Santee. 1951. 402 pages. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln
Out of print
Classic tales of the Gila country in the old days.
The Mimbres; Art and Archaeology
J Walter Fewkes. 1914. Smithsonian Institution
Originally published by the Smithsonian Institution 1914-24. Reprinted by Avanyu Publishing, P.O. Box 27134, Albuquerque NM 87125.
The classic study of those wacky Mimbrenos and their pottery.
Trails of the Gila; A Guide to the Recreational Trails of the Silver City Area
Bryan Thomas. 1994. 85 pages. Wild Hare Press, Silver City
Out of print
Primarily a mountain biking guide, many of these routes would make good day hikes also. Humorously written with brief but accurate area information, "True and Frightening" tales of javelina harassment, and the comic strip adventures of "Helmutt the Shred Hound." Excellent and accurate maps drawn by the author. Contains the only description of the Continental Divide trail in the Silver City area that I'm aware of.
Compiled and Edited by Patti Unger.. 1991. 193 pages. Sundog Publishing, HCR 88067, 5156 Silver City, NM 88061
Articles, photos and ads originally published in the Silver City Enterprise in 1882 & 1883. Newspapers were far more opinionated and interesting to read in pioneer days. Imagine your local newspaper publishing this little snippet about one of its advertisers. "Tenderfoot Miller has managed to get a big display advertisement into this paper. He imagines himself terribly smart because he runs a big livery stable and a corral, filled with horses and hay. He probably thinks it is funny to be proprietor of a silver mounted hearse, &c. Tenderfoot is a terror to the traveling public." Many accounts of gold and silver strikes, Apache raids, and encounters with badmen, and references to many booming towns and mining camps that now are only a memory.