Gila Trail Research


Trails through southeastern Arizona
Soon after the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, the federal government sent out Lieutenant John G. Parke to survey the lands east of Tucson and south of the Gila River. Parke's first route led him through Apache Pass in the Chiricahua Mountains. A year later Parke traveled the route again, but used a pass between Mount Graham and the Chiricahua mountains.

The U.S./Mexican border, however, remained the subject of dispute until the same Emory who had surveyed the Gila Trail in 1846 was called on to help settle the issue. Over a period of years, Emory and his team not only surveyed the boundary but collected a wealth of geological, zoological and botanical information, in the great tradition of Lewis and Clark. Between 1856 and 1859 this information was published as the three-volume Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, finalizing the last unresolved boundary of the United States.

The Butterfield Overland Stage route

Though it was a short-lived venture, the first non-military attempt to establish regular east-west communications in the Territory took the form of the Butterfield Overland Mail between St. Louis and San Francisco.

This company initially maintained a southern route which skirted the Rocky Mountains and avoided the heavy mountain snows in winter. Coaches traveled through Texas, southern New Mexico Territory and southern California. This route was always plagued by scarcity of watering places and hostile Indians


Ft Yuma

California Pioneer project

T.J. CasnerJournal of Casner Family's Gila Trail journey of 1868.