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Apache Pass


Apache Pass (named for the Apache people) (el. 5110 ft.) is a historic passage in the U.S. state of Arizona between the Dos Cabezas Mountains and Chiricahua Mountains, approximately 20 miles E-SE of Willcox, Arizona.

Apache Spring
A nearby freshwater spring, Apache Spring, was once an important water source for travelers in the desert landscape. The history of Apache Pass began with the spring - it was a watering place in the harsh desert of what became southern Arizona and therefore a crossroads.  Indigenous peoples were dependent for their survival on regular access to water holes, so the spring at Apache Pass was a natural stopping place for them.


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After Europeans and later Americans began traveling in the area, the spring and Apache Pass became a flash point for conflicts between these rival cultures.

The modern history of Apache Pass began with the great Apache leader Cochise, who, along with many of his followers, favored the area around the spring as a camping spot in winter and spring. There were often hundreds of Chiricahuas living in the area. A little higher than the surrounding desert terrain, it was cooler on hot days, the water was there and there was abundant game and firewood in the area.

Apache Pass Station
In 1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail (stage) Company began service between Missouri and San Francisco, using a bow-shaped route down through Texas and the New Mexico Territory and on into southern California.

They built a stone station on the eastern side of Apache Pass where they could utilize the water from the spring (perhaps the only station on the entire route that was made from such durable material, a possible acknowledgement of the danger they felt from the locals). It is likely that Cochise provided them with firewood when he was in the area.

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