Trouble on the Southern Frontier: Apaches, Gold, and the Old West Itinerary

A 2019 BGES’ Americana Program

November 6-11, 2019

As one moves west in the United States, the terrain and climate changes markedly. In the early days of the Republic, an agreement had been made to permit slavery south of a prescribed line that went to the Pacific coast–the Missouri Compromise didn’t offer much for the southern states west of Texas. Now 150 years later, there are still huge arid regions and desolate mountains. Outside a few centers of population, the landscape remains pocked with ghost towns and exhausted dreams. But there is also a legacy that goes back to the Spanish explorers, the native residents, and the hearty settlers who tried to find their fortunes in the wild wilderness. As you look through our Arizona itinerary, you will recognize the names. The reading list is a fair representation of the different stories and sites we will see. This is a true Americana story. Come on and take a ride!


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

6:00 PM. We will have a preliminary meeting at the headquarter hotel in Tucson so that you may pick up your name tags, reading books, and meet with your host and guide, Neil Mangum, before breaking for dinner on your own.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

8:15 AM. We depart this morning for the Arizona History Museum. En route we will travel through Saguaro National Park, noted for its signature large cactus and picture-perfect desert landscapes. We then will visit the old Fort Lowell Post, the point of departure for many operations against the Apaches. Lunch and a visit to the Museum of the Horse Soldier moves us into the afternoon. We will visit a unique museum–the Pima Air and Space Museum. Here, on over 100 acres, there are more than 300 aircraft in their Aircraft Boneyard–the dry climate being the perfect environment to maintain these artifacts. The day ends with a trip to Mission San Xavier del Bac. Then it is back to the hotel. Lunch will be provided, and dinner will be on your own.

Friday November 8, 2019

8:15 AM. Bags on board by 8 AM for our 8:15 departure for Sierra Vista. This is a day that takes you into the Spanish missionary heritage of the region, and we will stop at two missions that were established in 1691 and 1730: Tumacacori and Tubac Presidio respectively. You will get to spend an hour at each. After lunch, we will move in to the land of the Buffalo Soldiers and an active military installation at Fort Huachuca. With more than a hundred years of history, the museum there is of real interest. Departing the fort, we will head toward the border, where we will visit the monument to Coronado’s first expedition into the Southwest. This initial foray into the unsettled Southwestern territory is a marvelous end to a day that introduces us to why the region is as it is today. While in the area of Bisbee, we will consider mining operations and see some old open pit copper mines. The Copper Queen hotel is a relic of those days. We then will overnight for two days at the Garden Place Suites in Sierra Vista. Lunch is included, with dinner on your own.

Saturday November 9, 2019

8:30 AM. Today we will begin our consideration of the Apaches and the conflicts between them. Our first stop is on the border with Mexico at the John Slaughter Ranch. Slaughter, a former Confederate soldier, became a significant property owner who was affected by the marauding nature of the Apaches and participated in the pursuit of Geronimo. From here we go to the most legendary town in the West: Tombstone. The experience of walking down from Boot Hill Cemetery to the main street is singular and reminiscent of a time in which men were men and you messed with them at risk to your life. Enjoy lunch in a period saloon before we head to the rugged lands where Cochise hunkered down to hide from soldiers seeking to capture him. Lunch is on your own, but dinner is included.

Sunday November 10, 2019

8:30 AM. Have your bags out by 0815 for our 8:30 departure. We will transition today from the Apaches to the American Civil War and the Apaches. We summarize the history of the Apaches in Cochise County with a visit to the Chiricahua Regional Museum in Wilcox, where you will see a number of unique artifacts from the period. We then head to Fort Bowie, where Neil was once the superintendent in his days with the National Park Service. Talk about remote … you will hike in to discuss the Bascom affair, the establishment of the fort, and the subsequent 1862 Battle of Apache Pass. As we head back to Tucson, we will stop by another place not reachable by bus–The Dragoon Spring Station on the Butterfield Stage Coach Line. Here in the middle of absolutely nowhere, you will see the forgotten graves of four employees murdered while doing their jobs. We will be back at the headquarters hotel in Tucson by 5:45 PM. Flight schedules will be diverse, and you may be able to depart this evening. Lunch is provided, and there will no doubt be an ad hoc dinner for any who would like to join.

Monday November 11, 2019

Today is getaway day. Safe travels. Thanks for coming.

About the Faculty

Neil Mangum, one of the nation’s foremost historians, is an expert on frontier life. However, he is a Virginian who grew up in the shadow of the Petersburg National Battlefield, which was one of his very first assignments in the NPS. He still has deep ties. A retired National Park Service official, Neil served as Superintendent at the Little Big Horn National Battlefield as it transitioned from Custer National Battlefield. He is author of The Battle of the Rosebud: Prelude to the Little Big Horn. The popular Mangum only allows himself four or five tours a year, and BGES is fortunate to enjoy his favor. He enjoys the clientele and the small folksy nature of the group that is usually well prepared. He has a following, and most people on this trip will have traveled with him before, which makes this event even nicer.

Hotel Information

Your registration fee DOES NOT include the hotel in Tucson. Registrants are responsible for making and paying for their own accommodations in Tucson before we travel to Sierra Vista and, if needed, after we return to the Tucson area. The headquarters hotel will be the Hilton Garden Inn, 6575 S. Country Club Road, Tucson. Call 520-741-0505 for a room in the Blue and Gray Group block that expires October 24. The rate is $129 plus tax for the evenings of November 6 and 7. If you stay the evening of the 10th, you will need a separate reservation in our block, which is $89 plus tax. Our hotel in Sierra Vista is the Garden Place Suites–we will make your reservation, which is a paid part of your registration rate. The Hilton Garden Inn has a courtesy van that goes to and from the airport.


Our servicing airport is Tucson (TUS). Our headquarters hotel provides transportation to and from the airport. Amtrak services Tucson on the Sunset Limited route between New Orleans and Los Angeles. I-8 serves the city.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

John G. Bourke: On the Border with Crook: General George Crook, the American Indian Wars, and Life on the Frontier
Charles B. Gatewood: Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir
Jeff Guinn: The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the OK Corral–and How it Changed The American West
Stephen Hyslop: National Geographic The Old West
Paul Robert Walker: Southwest: Gold, God and Grandeur

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Trouble on the Southern Frontier: Apaches, Gold, and the Old West