Thursday, September 5, 2019

An Amazing Find In The Desert

You never know what you'll come across in the desert.  I'm a seeker of ghost towns, so when I saw the name Dragoon on the map, it called my name loud and clear.  Who wouldn't want to live in a town called Dragoon??

It's located in a little bit of Texas in Arizona.  Texas Canyon that is, an amazing outcropping of granite rocks perched on top of each other like a golf ball on top of a teacup ready to fall.  Dragoon takes it's name from a U. S. Calvary Unit.  There's not a lot of information available, but it was once on the Butterfield Stagecoach route.

This area is sacred to American Indians, as it is rumored to be the winter residence of the Apache Indian Chief Cochise.  I promise you will be amazed and in awe of the rock formations in this canyon.  There's a huge rest stop on Hwy 10, not too far south of Benson where you can get a good look see.

Take Dragoon Road offramp and you will shortly come to this sign on a rock outcropping.  It says Amerind Museum.  Believe it or not, clear out here in the middle of nowhere is an amazing museum, even if it is rather small.
William Shirley Fulton came from Connecticut, having graduated from Yale in 1903.  He fell in love with Texas Canyon and was inspired to dig into archeology and the surrounding mountains looking for evidence of earlier cultures.  He was hooked.

The Ranch he purchased in 1930 became known as the FF Ranch, a total of 1600 acres.  In 1931 he built a fabulous home for his wealthy wife Rose Haden, who was all into horses.  My kind of girl.  The quarter horses she raised became the foundation horses for the American Quarter Horse Association, of which I've been a member forever.

On the way in, you will probably wonder what this is.  It's actually a set of gates to put horses in before the gates fly open and the race begins.  Although taken over by the desert, there is actually a horse racing track here.
The geology is fascinating, as everywhere you look, you see rocks that look like they would fall down with a touch of your finger.
You'll see the house as you drive around to the parking lot.  This was built back in the day when you could travel to Mexico, take apart buildings and use them in your construction.
You could also go to Mexico and dig up ancient indigenous Indian camps and remove some of the most fabulous pottery I've ever seen.  As part of his archeology adventures, Mr. Fulton collected so many artifacts that he finally built a museum on the grounds to house all the articles.  That became Amerind Museum, I assume a mixing of American and Indian, since I couldn't seem to come up with where that name came from.

This is the Ranch Foreman's house.  The entire setup was a huge deal in it's day.
Mr. Fulton incorporated in 1937 and hired a professional archeologist to continue his passion for preserving the lifestyle and artifacts of the local Indian population.  To further showcase the culture, he built the Fulton-Hayden Art Gallery right next door.

I arrived a little bit early for the museum to be open.  When I saw a good looking cowboy roaming around, I cornered him like I was working a calf on my cutting horse.  Come to find out, he has worked with one of the original horse whisperers, Ray Hunt, in my home town.  He has a spread here where he raises horses and keeps the old Spanish Vaquero traditions alive. 

Not only that, but he was a gentleman like I haven't seen in ages.  There were wasps everywhere who insisted on landing on me.  He immediately took his hat off and swatted them away for the entire fifteen minutes we talked.  How nice was that??  We talked about everything "horse" until the museum open and I went inside.  Don't worry, I'll keep in touch!!  
JC is the one that rebuilt the original horse racing gates and volunteers here, rebuilding things that are original to the ranch.  

I can't show you pictures of the museum because they didn't allow any.  Having camera in hand, I was followed most of the time.  Although I might have snuck a picture or two with my phone, there were too many cameras around.  

I have to tell you though ... this is the most amazing collection of pottery I've ever seen.  It's not huge, but it is spectacular.  Here is a shot of their flyer.  Many of the pieces have faces and seem to be fashioned after individual people.
It's $10 to enter, $9 if you're a senior, but well worth it.  Next door at the gallery (and I'm NOT a gallery person) you can check out modern day Indian crafts from hand painted fabric quilting to oil paintings to images of cactus flowers that were just amazing.  I'm stealing that idea!!  The displays change from time to time and many are for sale.  

The museum still hosts several seminars a year, bringing together archeologists and anthropologists to discuss and debate various projects, as well as provides scholarships.  Once you have visited everything, you can take a very short drive to the back picnic area and admire the rocks.  They really are pretty cool.
It was a very interesting place you would never expect to find in the high desert of Dragoon.  Next up ... the rest of the story when I got lost.


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah I didn't want to be rude. I'll see if I can find something online. He was definitely worth the wasp attacks!!

  2. Thank you for all this information. This is a place Jerry and I would love to visit. Elva Shannon

  3. That's such a cool place - we'll have to go there.
    Should you find yourself near UofA, they have a terrific exhibit at the Arizona Museum. It's the first building on the left as you go through the main gate.

    1. I've been wanting to get to that museum also Allison. I know they have great stuff!!

  4. That is a cool place to see we were there quite a few years ago and always stop at the Texas Canyon rest areas to view those amazing rock formations.

    1. Aren't those rocks crazy?? Its a very interesting place to stop.

  5. Replies
    1. You did!!! The rock formations are so unusual, and the museum well worth the stop.

  6. This is very cool! Thank you so much! I've sped past it & didn't know it was right there. Next time I go through, I'll be stopping for sure - it's only a mile off I-10.

    Per their website, the ranch house was designed by Tucson architect Merritt Starkweather. He did the wonderful Arizona Inn where I've stayed a couple of times, both as a kid & as an adult.