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Dragoon Springs Stage Station, AZ

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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,911 feet
Elevation Gain 21 feet
Accumulated Gain 30 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 0.45
Interest Ruins & Historic
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
13  2011-01-05 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,629
Trips 1,542 map ( 7,871 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Jan → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:06am - 6:21pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2017 Lizard Fire15.2k

short hike, long history
by PrestonSands

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The historic Dragoon Springs Stage Station, on the northern edge of the Dragoon Mountains, is a site full of western history and brutal violence. The hike to its ruins, although exceedingly short, is worth the effort if you are in the area. One can also hike beyond the stage station ruins up Jordan Canyon to Dragoon Spring itself.

In 1857, John Butterfield, after being awarded a government mail contract, constructed a stagecoach route that came to be known as the Butterfield Trail, between St. Louis and San Francisco. The route crossed southern Arizona, and stagecoach stations were constructed every twenty miles or so along the route, taking advantage of dependable water sources when possible. Dragoon Springs was one of these sources, and a station was constructed near the springs in August 1858. The heavily fortified station consisted of a 3 foot thick, 10 foot high stone wall, 45 feet by 55 feet enclosing the site, with two small rooms inside the enclosure. The stock was corralled within the walls.

The station got off to a violent start on the night of September 8, 1858, when three laborers attacked and killed three station employees wielding axes and a hammer. An ax blow nearly severed employee Silas St. John's arm, but he managed to grab a rifle and a pistol and began firing, at which point the attackers fled. Silas lay in agony for several days and fought off coyotes, vultures, and wolves before help finally arrived. Silas lost his left arm but recovered. The first Butterfield mail stage arrived on October 2, 1858.

A Confederate Army foraging party gathering stray cattle was attacked at Dragoon Springs on May 5, 1862, by Apaches under Cochise and Francisco's command. Four Confederate soldiers were killed and buried at the stage station. Their graves can be seen today.

Several days after the famous Council Rocks peace meeting between Cochise and General Howard near the mouth of Stronghold Canyon West, a formal meeting was held at Dragoon Springs on October 12, 1872. It was here that the boundaries of the new Chiricahua Apache Reservation were laid out. The Reservation extended east to New Mexico and south to Mexico and included the Dragoon Mountains. The Reservation was short-lived, only lasting until 1876.

First, locate the Dragoon Springs Stage Station sign next to the road (1.1 miles up Forest Road 4232 from Old Ranch Road and 0.7 miles past the signed Coronado National forest boundary). Begin hiking up the path that departs from behind the sign. The path travels north, climbing a low grassy rise, and crosses through a fence along the way. The path quickly arrives at a large, rectangular rock wall, maybe 4 to 5 feet high. This is the ruin of the stage station. A few yards further north are the graves of the Confederate soldiers. Several interpretive plaques inform visitors of the site's history. Visible to the north is Dragoon Pass and the Texas Canyon area. Immediately to the south and east, the Dragoon Mountains rise from the surrounding plains. Return the same way.

One can also continue hiking (or driving) for another mile along Forest Road 4232 to the Dragoon Springs area in Jordan Canyon. A rock wall among the oak trees in the wash may be Dragoon Spring. If so, it is in disrepair, as I did not see any water. A well-beaten cow path heads up Jordan Canyon for aways before fading away.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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2011-01-07 PrestonSands
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Recreational Land Permits
    For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek the recreational permit.
    Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
    2020 - $15.00 individual
    2020 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
    Plus $1 processing fee
    The permitting process quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

    Land Parcel Map

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    2020 Version Updated May 2020
    Kudos to HAZ member, NCISS for taking action! The deadbolts have been removed from the gate and access is *restored. *However, do caution that while the initial sign by the Fourr Ranch has been removed, there is a new (official) sign by the gate explicitly warning those that wish to enter that this is STATE LAND AND as such a permit is required.
    Link in Permit

    Fourr Ranch has BLOCKED Access as of Feb 2020
    Supposedly (per the sign they put on the gate), one may contact them (via the email address on the sign) for legal access. Tried that strictly emphasizing vehicle access not needed. Additionally stated, simply for walking/hiking on the road to get to NF. That was several weeks ago and no response. The closest alternate access appears to be Lizard Lane in Dragoon): head down lizard lane (just Google Lizard Ln in Dragoon AZ which does a fine job of getting you there), then after hitting national forest (or when the road gets too rough to drive, simply park, and then on foot cut over Westward, off-trail to reach the destination. GPS is highly recommended.

    2011 Version
    From Tucson, travel east on Interstate 10 past Benson, and take exit 318 (Dragoon Road). Turn right onto Dragoon Road, and follow it for 3.6 miles to the town of Dragoon. ***When you cross the railroad tracks, make an immediate right onto Old Ranch Road (Dragoon Road makes a sharp bend to the left). Follow Old Ranch Road (low clearance dirt, ok for cars) for 2.4 miles to the turnoff for Forest Road 4232 on the left, which is marked by a sign indicating "JORDAN CANYON 2, STAGE STATION, FOREST ACCESS". Turn left and follow Forest Road 4232 for 1.1 miles to the wooden sign for Dragoon Springs Station. Park here, and follow the unmarked trail behind the sign for 0.15 miles to the stage station ruins and cemetery.
    page created by PrestonSands on Jan 07 2011 2:45 pm
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