Fort Cummings Tour

On October 6 of this year the Hillsboro Historical Society (HHS) will sponsor a tour of Cooke's Spring and Ft. Cummings.  Bob Barnes, who will lead the tour, sends this note about it.

"Cooke's Spring and Ft. Cummings are two of the most historic sites in the American Southwest, and they are less than a quarter of a mile apart.  These historic sites are on the southwestern edge of the Cooke's Range (southern Black Range).  Cooke's spring was a dependable source of water in the area.  Cattle herds, stagecoach lines, and people "heading west" all stopped at Cooke's Spring.  It was because of this that Ft. Cummings was built.  

Cooke's Spring, Sierra County, New Mexico, USA

What you will see:  Frankly, you will not see much.  The walls of Ft. Cummings have mostly melted into the desert, and the spring was capped in the late 1800’s (spring house photo above).  But if you want a story, a historical story, a story of personal drama, tragedy, and perseverance, this is the place.  There are few places in the west where a better story can be told.  I will be leading the tour and will try my  best to tell that story.  Against the backdrop of where it happened, looking beyond the desert scrub of today, we will talk about what this place was and what it meant in the last half of the 1800's.

If you think you might be interested please visit the Ft. Cummings and Cooke's Spring page.  We are fortunate to have an excellent resource for this area in Cooke’s Peak - Pasaron Por Aqui - A Focus on United States History in Southwestern New Mexico, by Donald Howard Couchman, 1990 .  You may also wish to read “Annals of Old Fort Cummings” by William Thornton Parker, M.D., which was published in 1916.

Logistics:  The tour will be by private car pool and will depart from the Black Range Museum in Hillsboro at 9:00 a.m. with a stop at 9:30 in Nutt to pick up anyone who would rather meet there.  Car pooling arrangements will be made once registration is complete.  Please note that if you choose to drive, high clearance is recommended on the access road, and there is a definite possibility that vegetation will mark the side of your vehicle (desert pinstriping).  A light lunch and cold water will be furnished at the historical site.  There are no facilities at this area, although there are some tall bushes.  Privacy should be easy but conditions are "primitive".  Even in October it will be important to wear sun protection:  there is no shade to speak of in the area.  And of course, we will be in the desert.  There will probably be snakes, spiders, goblins, etc., about (although I have never seen any on my many trips to the area).

The charge, per HHS member, is $25 and a $50 charge per non-member (Hint: the annual membership fee for the HHS is $25 - so become a member).   All services provided during this tour are volunteer, so all of the tour fee goes directly to the HHS.

Please note that it is fairly straightforward to do this as an independent trip.  See the Ft. Cummings page to view a road video and access photo galleries.

Having told you the possible "down sides", I would like to reiterate that Ft. Cummings and Cooke's Spring are two of the most historic sites in this area.  In my mind they are magical - and hopefully I can impart that feeling of magic to the tour participants."

TO REGISTER:  E-mail Garland Bills at and tell him to reserve a space(s) for you.  Then send a check made out to the Hillsboro Historical Society at "Hillsboro Historical Society, P. O. Box 461, Hillsboro NM 88042".  Be sure to indicate that the check is for the Ft. Cummings Tour, on the check.

We are always looking for additional tour ideas and special event concepts for our members.  If you know of something you would really like to do, please let us know, and we will see if we can figure out how to do it.

Fort Cummings, Sierra County, New Mexico, USA
Probably the Sutler’s Building near the Front Gate.
January 6, 2014

© Robert Barnes 2018