SR 82 stop offers two-for-one history lessons

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications

SR 82 historical markersWe've said it before, but Arizona highways are lined with monuments, historical markers and curiosities.

There are so many to see covering a range of topics, including a Syrian/Greek camel driver and a silver screen cowboy legend, that it could take a lifetime to finally make it to all of them. So today we are bringing you one place where you can check off two.

If you head east on State Route 82 from Nogales, you'll eventually find yourself driving along Sonoita Creek through a pleasant, tree-lined break in the rugged topography. About 2.5 miles before you reach Patagonia, there's a small pullout on the right-hand side. 

The first thing that will catch your eye is a blue marker, contrasted with the reddish-brown boulder it's affixed to. Let's turn our attention to that first. 

Erected by the Arizona Historical Society in 1991, this marks the spot where a man named Johnny Ward started a ranching operation in 1858. That may not excite your historical curiosity, but it goes on to explain that his son, Felix Ward, was kidnapped by the Pinal band of Westeran Apaches from the ranch in 1861. 

The kidnapping was blamed on the local Chiricahua Apache band, rather then the Pinals. In response, Lt. George Nicolas Bascom rode to Apache Pass to accuse the Chiricahuas and demand the return of the boy. The leader of the Chiricahuas, Cochise, declared their innocence. Bascom didn't believe him, and things quickly spiraled out of control into violence. This is now called the Bascom Affair and was the kickoff of a 25-year conflict between the U.S. Army and the Apaches, who would be led by the likes of Cochise and Geronimo. 

But, as promised, the plaque commemorating the ignominous beginning of that conflict isn't the only thing at this stop. If you look just beyond the plaque, you'll find a concrete staircase leading upward to a small cavity in the rock wall. Inside is a small shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Another helpful plaque tells us this display of piety was erected in 1941 by locals Juanita and Juan Telles to plead for the safety of their son who was off fighitng in World War II.

We think you'll agree that having so much history packed into one spot makes this well worth a stop.