Saturday, January 14, 2012

On the Mormon Battalion Trail

We earned our official Mormon Battalion Patch in Tucson!!!

The highlight of our time in Phoenix was a trip out to the middle of the desert to see and actually walk on the original Mormon Battalion Trail.  Mark came in contact with Owen Garner who is a member of the local Mormon Battalion Group. He and his group take the boy scouts out into the desert south of Tucson to where the battalion camped on Christmas day of 1846.  It is on BLM land and so no vehicles are allowed except by special permission.  The scouts go out for an evening of camping and reenactment by the group and then are expected to do a service project.  They have spent four years cleaning up the area of debris and reclaiming the trail where ATVs have destroyed it.  This was January 5, 2012 and Mark's birthday. What a thrill. We walked the area and saw the ruins of an old stage stop that came years after the battalion had camped there. This trail they established became known at The Butterfield Trail.  We then were able to drive 20 miles into the desert on the actual trail. It was very rugged and accessible only by four wheel drive.  I was glad I had shoes. Many of these  brave and courageous men had no shoes or only rawhide wrapped on their feet.  We saw an old cistern that was established a few years after the battalion came through to hold water for the cattle.  Another interesting site was a more modern type of cistern that was made out of cement so the wild animals can get water. It was a large slab of cement that was slanted into holding wells and fenced so that animals can access it.  It is so very hot in the summer here that the animals have no way of getting water.
Mark standing on the original Mormon Battalion Trail.  The Boy Scouts have placed a marker every mile of the trail for 20 miles.
 Mormon Battalion Christmas Camp 1846

The Boy Scouts "planted" these dead twigs in "road braids" where ATVs have destroyed the trail. They are basically decoys to make folks think there is vegetation growing and try to get them to avoid destroying the trails.
Here we are at the beginning of the 210 mile stretch of the Battalion Trail. Glad it's not summer!

This is the skeleton of a dead Saguaro Cacti. They are protected and it is illegal to damage them in anyway.

This is a desert water corral. It is made of cement and slanted so that any moisture will run down the slope into the water cisterns so the wild animals can have water in the hot desert.
 This is the actual trail.
The top of Butterfield Pass where the Mormon Battalion crossed down to the Gila River

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