Our mission is to inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon through volunteer work and outreach programs.

January 31, 2022
Photo by Alice Wakefield.
Battle of Chiricahua Pass
Article and photos by Bill Cavaliere

This photo, taken from the soldier's vantage point, shows the top of the "rocky mesa" (Bernard's words) where the Apaches fought from.

The "Battle of Chiricahua Pass" occurred near Rucker Canyon on October 20, 1869, when Captain Rueben Bernard and 61 soldiers from Fort Bowie fought Cochise and about 100 Apache warriors in a skirmish that lasted about five hours.

This incident holds the record of more Medals of Honor awarded (33) for a single-day battle in the entire history of the US Army, even when taking into account World War II, Vietnam, the Civil War, etc. Amazingly, very few people have heard of this battle, and even more amazingly, very few know about the unique record it holds. Two soldiers were killed in the battle (Sgt. Stephen Fuller and Pvt. Thomas Collins), and 1st Lt. John Lafferty was wounded when his entire jaw was shot off. Bernard estimated about ten Apaches were killed. The conclusion of the battle was considered a draw. After the battle, Bernard wrote that "Cochise was one of the most intelligent hostile Indians on the continent," and that his warriors were "recklessly brave."
The left photo was taken from the top of the mesa from the Apache's vantage point, and the right photo shows a ledge below the Apache's position where Collins and Fuller possibly could have been when they were killed.

The Cochise County Historical Society will be unveiling a bronze plaque commemorating the battle on Saturday, February 19 at 2:00 pm at the Chiricahua Desert Museum. An Honor Guard from the Douglas American Legion will post the Colors, followed by speeches from state representatives from Arizona, New Mexico, and the Chiricahua Apache Tribe. A power point presentation detailing the history of the battle will follow, concluding with a reception.
Soaring Hawks
Photos by Tony Donaldson
Ferruginous Hawk, dark morph
Red-tailed Hawk and Harris's Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk, light morph
Our Small Living Leaf Litter Opals
Article and photos by R. Wyatt Mendez
As you hike your way up any canyon in our sky islands, the changing forests are represented at our feet by a changing layer of leaf litter. While it's easy to overlook the diversity hiding in moldy leaves and talus slides, these habitats contain some of the most interesting members of our invertebrate fauna. The small 1/8" mygalomorph spiders of the genus Hexurella are among my favorite. Hexurella are picky little spiders. Their typical habitat here in the sky islands of southern Arizona consists of oak litter, but they're not nearly as common as you might initially assume. They want their oak litter packed tightly, but not a solid pancake of leafmold. It needs to dry out fairly quickly while sitting over a deeper layer of humus that retains moisture. Their branching silken galleries run through the matrix of dead leaves, catching springtails that hop up from below. 

Males mature in the fall and spring, abandon their webs and search for females.

As mygalomorphs, Hexurella’s closest relatives are trapdoor spiders and tarantulas. They’re part of a “primitive” lineage that retains two small plates on their abdomen, reminiscent of a vinegaroon. We know nothing about the opalescent sheen of their abdominal integument, considering they live in near darkness, never being seen on the surface. Certainly a splash of rainbow solidifies their position as Madrean forest fairies! 
Geology Rocks!
Article and photos by Jimi Walker

This is the pink colored rock that can be seen throughout Cave Creek Canyon. It is an extrusive igneous rock with a silica content over 70%. Most rhyolite begins as granitic magma that has partially cooled in the subsurface. Rhyolite forms in continental crust or at the margins of continental crust and oceanic crust. It rarely forms during oceanic eruptions.
The name comes to us from the Greek ‘rhyo’ meaning ‘stream of lava’. It forms when molten rock that is very high in silica is extruded from an active volcano. By extruding, I don’t mean it politely oozed out of a hot vent, what it does is explode quite violently out of stratospheric volcanoes. 

Molten rhyolite is extremely viscous, which means it easily sticks to whatever surface it falls on, coating the surrounding mountains in a very thick layer. It then cools very quickly, allowing for only small crystals to form. Volcanoes that produce rhyolite are the very explosive types, such as Mt. St. Helens, Krakatoa and our very own Turkey Creek volcano. 

Eruptions of granitic magma can produce Rhyolite, Pumice, Obsidian or Tuff. These rocks share a similar composition, but differ in cooling conditions. Explosive eruptions tend to produce tuff or pumice, overlaid with rhyolite as the volcano lost energy and cooled, which is what happened in the Chiricahua Mountains during the Turkey Creek volcano. 
The photo shows a chunk of rhyolite, broken into a cross section so we can identify the minerals inside. Within this sample of rhyolite are small crystals of mica, quartz and feldspar, these are the small white and light brown bits. What is intriguing are the beige colored oval blobs. Those are drops of pumice that fell onto the semi-cooled rhyolite, then were flattened into a disk shape by more molten rhyolite, then the whole mess cooled together into solid rock. The rock shown is around 26.9 million years old.

 How cool is that! Can you imagine the history that rock has witnessed?
 Many gemstone deposits can be found within Rhyolite. Some of the best Beryl, Topaz, Agate, Jasper and Opal can be found in Rhyolite. 

Photos below by Cecil Williams of Cave Creek Canyon showing the rhyolite cliffs and caves that gave the canyon its name.
Herb Martyr Dam
   By Phyllis Noland
I recently came across information about Herb Martyr Dam in Cave Creek Canyon, which is above Portal, Arizona and just a hop, skip and a jump from San Simon Valley… Seeing what history I could pull up on the Dam surprised me as it was very slim pickin’s and somewhat incorrect as to what happened to the person whom the Dam was named after… So here goes, after 6 hours of searching, this is about correct as I can get…
Photo by Jimi Walker

Herbert Land Martyr was born in Glasgow, Howard County Missouri and his parents lived near the Fayette Precinct. Herbert was born in the fall of 1868, to James Robert Martyr who was born in 1834 at Walkers Church, Prince Edward Virginia and Willie Ann Carter born in 1844 in Missouri.
Herbert grew up in the area of Howard County Missouri and by the very early 1900- 1904 was in Metcalf, Arizona working as the assistant superintendent of the Standard Mines. The town of Metcalf is now buried by tailings from the Clifton, Morenci mining area. “Herbert stated in an interview that a large amount of development work recently mapped out by President Ross was being pushed rapidly and some splendid new ground was being opened up. Also, a new 25 horse power engine was being placed in position at the mines which will take the place of the other two engines”.
In 1910 Mr. Herbert Martyr was in Tombstone and lived on Allen St. and looks like he was a secretary for a mining Company there. By 1920 he was living in the vicinity of Paradise, Cochise Co., Arizona. He lived in what they called Hay Field Flats next to some of the big ranches of the area, a couple of them being Chenoweth and Mosley. His job was listed a Fire Marshal for the National Forest. He worked as a Forest Service employee up until about 1925 when he developed Pulmonary Tuberculosis and moved to be near his brother, about six miles East of McNeal Cochise County Arizona. Herbert died the 26th of Dec. 1926 and is buried at the McNeal Cemetery as is his brother James Robert Martyr Jr. and his family.
After the Dam in Cave Creek Canyon above Portal was built in 1935 by the CCC Boys it was named Herb Martyr in Honor of Herbert Land Martyr for his service to the forests of the Chiricahua Mountains. 
Thank you to Dennis Hansen for the info on the CCC boys building the dam.

[Editor’s note: check the FaceBook page “San Simon Valley An Arizona Saga” for more interesting stories.]
Photo Gallery

A very colorful male House Finch by Alice Wakefield
Photo of a Gray Fox by Debb Johnson

Below: over-wintering Elegant Trogon eating pyracantha by Debb Johnson
Steller's Jays
Left photo by Sara Stumbo
Above photo by Joy Mendez
Barn Owl by Tim Lawson

Below by Alice Wakefield
Female Northern Cardinal by Tim Lawson
Above: Eastern Phoebe by Bob Rodrigues

Right: Elegant Trogon. This is the over-wintering bird that spends most of its time farther upstream near Cave Creek Ranch. For one day it flew down to the Rodrigues' bird feeding area on Foothills Rd. It was their first Trogon sighting in their 11 years there!
Winn Falls by Cecil Williams
The Falls are frozen as of Jan. 29, 2022. It's hard to see, but there is a big ice ball at the bottom of the Fall. For decades this used to be called "Sally Falls", named after a well loved Portal resident.

Sunrise by Steve Wolfe
Linda Castor
Paula Baldwin
Jacqueline Foutz
Caryn George
Mike Leuthold
Patricia Parran
Steve & Laura Paulson
Reed Peters
Thomas Roseman 
Rick & Joan Schneider
Delia Scholes
Lee Simson and Howard Szczech
Denise Ward
Mike & Cecil Williams
David Zittin
Friends of Cave Creek Canyon Board Members
Bob Ashley
Sheri Ashley
Geoff Bender
Rick Beno
Rene Donaldson
Rolf Koford
Pat Parran
Reed Peters
Kim Vacariu
Jeff Wakefield
Alice Wakefield
Cecil Williams
Mike Williams
Help us thank our Business Members who have given generously to Friends of Cave Creek Canyon. Without their assistance, we would be hard pressed to accomplish our goals. Click on the underlined names to check out their websites.    
A.S.K. Pest Control 
Chiricahua Chef
Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist
Painted Pony
Sky Islands Grill & Grocery  
Cable Publishing
Daussin & Associates   
Migration Taco
OL' Morani Ranch 
Sky Island Rolfing  
Terry Miller
Umphres Propane
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