History & heritage

From prehistoric civilizations to the notorious gunfights of the 1880s, there is history to be discovered around every corner in Cochise County.

Gaze across ancient mammoth kill sites. Wander the streets of a fantastically preserved Victorian town. Hike the former hideouts of legendary warriors. Or tread the boardwalks of the true Wild West.

No matter where you choose to travel and explore, fabled and colorful pasts will follow you.

Sierra Vista

As you drive around Sierra Vista, you may not get a real sense of history. But just like any hidden treasure, you have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Home to historic Fort Huachuca, established at the foot of the mountains in 1877, this is a city with strong military ties.

This is also where the famous Buffalo Soldiers trained to play their heroic and critical part in our nation’s history.

Outside the gates of the fort lies the West End, where pioneers like Margaret Carmichael and Oliver Fry laid claim to land in the newly formed state of Arizona in 1912. Learn how these hardy homesteaders shaped the future of our city at the Henry F. Hauser Museum.

Step back even further in time with a visit to the mammoth kill sites on the outskirts of the city, where the ancient Clovis people once roamed.

For more info visit www.VisitSierraVista.com

Bisbee

Voted the best historic small town in the country by readers of U.S.A Today, character exudes from every street and alleyway of this former 1880s mining community.

Beautiful Victorian brick buildings form the solid foundation of the old town, while many of the original wooden miners’ homes still cling to the sides of the copper filled hills.

Get a taste of the mining past with a visit to the Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, or let a former miner take you on a thrilling underground tour of the Copper Queen Mine.

One of the true delights of Bisbee is the chance to meander the winding side streets, where you’ll find eclectic old homes and historic stairways, alongside unexpected works of art.

Be sure to include a short side trip to nearby Lowell, an equally well-preserved homage to the area’s booming past, and a true slice of Americana.

For more info visit www.DiscoverBisbee.com

Tombstone

Known infamously as “The Town Too Tough To Die”, the gunfighters and saloon girls have never left the city of Tombstone.

There is no shortage of places to experience a shootout, including the most famous skirmish in Wild West history – the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Although their residency was relatively short, the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday are perhaps the best-known former inhabitants of this once bustling, high desert settlement.

Tombstone was also home to numerous notorious gunslingers, as well as some of the most feared lawmen in the Southwest.

Be sure to start your visit at the Tombstone Courthouse, which houses a very impressive exhibit on the town’s legendary history.

Then head on over to the main town, where historic attractions like the Bird Cage Theater, Crystal Palace Saloon, and the Tombstone Epitaph await you.

For more info visit www.TombstoneChamber.com

Douglas

The charm and chic of Hollywood’s golden age can be glimpsed as you walk the streets of Douglas.

This border community once welcomed the likes of Ginger Rogers and Al Johnson, who no doubt laid their weary superstar heads at the famous Hotel Gadsden.

The lobby in this early 1900s era hotel could be described as the definition of glamor, with its sweeping Italian marble staircase and Tiffany stained glass window.

Spanish conquistadors built their presidios here long before celebrities made the trek from California, and the influence of neighboring Mexico affords the visitor an experience rich in both culture and history.

Douglas also happens to be the home of the nation’s first international airport – Amelia Earhardt once landed here – and the on-site museum will transport you back to when flying was a more simple and noble affair.

For more info visit www.VisitDouglas.com

Benson

It could be argued that without Benson, world famous Tombstone may never have achieved its notoriety.

As the railroad hub of Cochise County, it provided vital transportation routes for the silver bullion pouring out of the mining settlement in the late 1800s, allowing the fledgling city to prosper.

While the original station, to which Wyatt Earp accompanied his brother Morgan’s body for travel to California, has since been razed, a nearby replica now serves as the visitor center.

Stroll the stores and businesses of the main thoroughfare, where a number of historic buildings can still be found, until you reach the Benson Area Museum.

Thanks to the dedication of The San Pedro Valley Arts and Historical Society, the museum pays homage to the area’s Southwestern history and the important part the community had to play in that compelling story.

For more info visit www.BensonVisitorCenter.com

Willcox

Fans of the old Western themed movies should not miss the opportunity to visit Willcox, the ‘cattle capital of the world’.

Start your trip in the historic downtown area, where the Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum and the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame will undoubtedly awaken childhood memories of classic movies for those of a certain age.

Learn about the region’s ranching influences, its historic ties to the railroad industry, and the part it played in the Indian wars of the 1880s.

Life in Willcox moves at a slower pace, so take the time to wander in and out of the handful of wine tasting rooms located in handsomely renovated historic buildings.

Just a short distance away lies Fort Bowie, a 19-century army outpost built following area clashes with the Chiricahua Apache Indians, or head to Cochise Stronghold, where Apache Chief Cochise hid from military pursuers, and where legend says is his final resting place.

For more info visit www.WillcoxChamber.com

For further information about what to see and do in and around Sierra Vista visit www.svherald.com/discover-cochise