Arizona's rugged Chiricahua Mountains have a special place in frontier history. They were the haven of many well-known personalities, from Cochise to Johnny Ringo, as well as the home of prospectors, cattlemen, and hardscrabble farmers eking out a tough living in an unforgiving landscape. In this delightful and well-researched book, Alden Hayes shares his love for the area, gained over fifty years. From his vantage point near the tiny twin communities of Portal and Paradise on the eastern slopes of the Chiricahuas, Hayes brings the famous and the not-so-famous together in a profile of this striking landscape, showing how place can be a powerful formative influence on people's lives. When Hayes first arrived in 1941 to manage his new father-in-law's apple orchard, he met folks who had been born in Arizona before it became a state. Even if most had never personally worried about Indian attacks, they had known people who had. Over the years, Hayes heard the handed-down stories about the area's early days of Anglo settlement. He also researched census records, newspaper archives, and the files of the Arizona Historical Society to uncover the area's natural history, prehistory, Spanish and Mexican regimes, and particularly its Anglo history from the mid nineteenth century to the beginning of World War II. His book is a rich account of the region and more, a celebration of rural life, brimming with tales of people whose stories were shaped by the landscape. Today the Chiricahuas are a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts and the site of the American Museum of Natural History's Southwestern Research Station and still a rugged area that remains off the beaten track. Hayes brings his straightforward and articulate style to this captivating account of earlier days in southeastern Arizona and opens up a portal to paradise for readers everywhere.
Alden Hayes referred to himself as a "failed farmer, bankrupt cattleman, sometime smoke-chaser, one-time park ranger, and would-be archaeologist"--typically tongue-in-cheek for a multifaceted man who had many scholarly archaeological publications to his credit. He died in 1998.