Sun Dublan
Changes in the Sierra Madre 

THE CHANGES ON THE GAVILAN

What happened on the Gavilan is typical of the changes all through the Sierra Madre mountains not only the changes in the range land but in the whole Ecosystem of Flora and Fauna. In my day I have seen the change come to the Sierra Madre through the devastation that has come from cutting the timber and overgrazing the land. It has been left to be gutted by erosion and blackened by fire. I hunted on the north end of the Blues when you could see for 2 or 3 hundred yards with only the waving grass and the trunk of an occasional giant Pine to obstruct the view. Later I went back to find the new growth of pines so thick that you could only travel on the roads that had been made with a bulldozer. No place for grass and the perfect set up for fire to create a raging inferno to leave the country blackened and dead taking years to return even to produce any graze for cattle or wildlife.

My purpose here is to include some history taken from the journal of Hyrum Albert Cluff who lived in Garcia and Corrales before and after the turn of the century. These are entries taken from his journal

In May 1890 I took my wife, her mother, and two sisters and started for Mexico. We had a very dry trip. When we got to the Animas valley, the horses got Alkalied and the water made all of us sick. We arrived in Colonia Diaz Sunday on June 6. We got to Colonia Juarez June 11 and to Colonia Pacheco Sunday the thirteenth. We found brother Haws and his family all well. Brother Haws went to Round valley and I thought that it was the prettiest place I had ever seen.

August 1890 brother Haws went with me to look over  the country around Colonia Garcia. Peter Mcbride, John Hill, George Haws and me went to Round Valley to look for land for a farm but gave it up. I settled in Corrales, built me a house and fenced my lot. The following spring was very dry and we had to live on corn bread. Brother James Sellers and I built a dam in the creek and got irrigation water to our land. On Oct. 20 I went to Colonia Juarez to make brick for George Haws. I went to Colonia Diaz in November to get some cattle from Hendricks. Ariived in Corrales with the cattle on December 6. On Christmas I was the clown and George Haws was Santa Claus. While he was taking the presents off the tree, the cotton on his suit caught fire from the candles and he was burned quite badly. It was an awful experience^.

In September 1893 I was out hunting my horses and ran across a bear. I took out my lasso and caught him around the neck and pulled him out of a tree. The commotion frightened my horse and he threw me off. Somehow I managed to hang onto the rope. The bear must have been as scared as I was because instead of attacking me he tried to climb back up the tree. When he got up to a fork in the tree, I let the rope go slack. The bear caught off balance fell head first through the fork in the tree and when I yanked the rope tight again,  he hung himself as he was unable to touch the ground.

On the first of October we were counseled to move closer  to town because the Indians were acting up. We moved closer to Corrales and lived in a log house. The next February we moved back out to the ranch.

I also helped cut the road from Pacheco to Round Valley. Moved to Round Valley in December 1894, cut logs and put a log house up. We moved into our new house on January 8, 1895 and had a dance. I plastered the house in April and helped  survey the graveyard in Garcia.

The last of the month of November I dug potatoes and went out hunting. I got four big gobblers and Rhoda put her carpet down on the 29th.

The spring of 1899 was very cold. I was called by the Bishop to take a man from New York up to inspect the timber of the nearby country. He was with a Railroad company who was anticipating to build a Railroad near here.

September 12, 1900 Benjamin Cluff, the president of the Brigham Young Academy, visited us. He was traveling with a party from the Academy, on their way to South America. They stayed in Garcia one week and excavated some ruins and got some specimens. I traveled seventy five miles south with the expedition as guide. On returning home I met a couple of outlaws. They drew their guns on me and held me prisoner for several hours. They finally decided to let me go and I gratefully returned home in one piece.

Thomas Allen and Brother Harris followed some Indians that had been stealing corn and Potatoes. They ran into their camp and killed two of them. Brother Ivins and Woodruff helped bury the Indians. Bishop Whetten sent a runner out to Chuhuichupa to warn the people and another to Juarez to take the report and get ammunition for the protection of the ward.

There is now plenty of water thanks to the dam and the land is in fine condition for plowing and everyone is preparing to put in a big crop this year.

June third, the country is on fire and the valley is full of smoke.

Brother Taylor of Juarez sent for me to come down and trap some bear in his pastures. They are killing off his cattle. July Second trapped one week and caught three bears and while I was there Rhoda and the children arrived from Pima. I was very glad to see them. The baby looked quite bad.

August twenty third, got a letter from a Dr. Hughs of Philadelphia. He wanted me to go out with him as a guide on a hunting and trapping trip. He came with a party of friends and we killed several Lions, Grey Wolves, Foxes, Turkey and Deer. I took them down to the Casas Grandes station and they returned to Philadelphia apparently well satisfied with their trip to the wilds of Mexico.

While I was out with Dr. Hughs I took him to the old ruins fifteen miles on the west side of Garcia valley. We excavated some ruins and found one skeleton. Thoughts passed through my mind while working on these ruins, reflecting on who the people were who built those houses.

October twenty second, me and Mr. Barker and Ernest Stiner started out trapping. We went South East of Garcia on the Rio Almais. We were gone six weeks. We caught and killed five bears, eight Lions, eleven Turkeys and several Deer. The last bear we killed pretty near got Ernest and myself. It was a large silver tip bear and he came within ten feet of us with his mouth open and had it not been for the dogs he would have gotten both of us.

September tenth, I went to Juarez and took my family and then went on to El Paso. I took Matilda and Lorena and sister Haws with me to El Paso. We returned from there and I brought a hunting party in. When we were between Casas Grandes and Juarez, I got on a Mule and it jumped in a hole and fell. I got my foot caught in the stirrup and the mule dragged and kicked me until finally the stirrup broke and I got loose. I was badly banged up and the back of my legs and back were all black and blue. I didn't have any broken bones though and was able to take the hunting party to the Blue Mountains.

November twenty second, I took another hunting party from Kansas on a trip. We saw one Lion  but we didn't get anything. I also showed them some ancient buildings.

April first 1903, I took a gentleman by the name of R. C. Cross from New York out on a hunt. We visited the ruins at Cave Valley. I took the folks out to Peacock after my traps and camped. Rhody and I went into a very deep canyon and ate dinner. I took her picture twice. That day as we came over some very rough places Rhoda very nearly fell of her horse. She went with me to hunt the bear that had been gone with my trap on for six days. We were in some rough country but we found the bear dead and  then found the trap on our way back to camp. I killed three deer and took the picture of Rhoda's horse and the Deer. February twenty sixth, the Garcia sawmill blew up and killed Elder George Turley and injured Art Farnsworth and Sumner O'donnal quite bad. The money panic which is raging in Utah and Arizona has struck us here and times sure are hard.

July 5 1909 I planted corn on my lots. Times are very had and the Bishop is letting people have the Tithing corn to eat^

February 2 1910, a Comet appeared in the western skies.

June sixteenth, almost all the men of Garcia are up in the mountains working on the Railroad. I came home to check on things and found the farm looking good. Those that are staying here have planted nearly all of the farm land in the valley to grain mainly oats. There are quite a lot of apples, Peaches, Plums, Cherries and small fruit being raised here this year.

June 19 1911, it is very cold. Forty Rebels came into Garcia and bought supplies in the store and paid for them. They seemed very friendly.

October, went with a hunting party from New York. Madero was the victor of the revolution and was elected president of Mexico.

July twenty fourth 1912, we held a dance and had a very good time.

July twenty eighth, we received word to leave our homes. We spent the twenty ninth packing the few things we could take and cooking, We just walked out and closed the door and left everything. There were twenty seven wagons. The men stayed to defend the town and our property.

These are a few of the entries from the journal of Hyrum Albert Cluff that I have used to indicate the conditions in the Sierra Madre and the colony of Garcia.

When Hyrum came first to Round Valley it must have been very beautiful with giant Pine Trees and waving grass with wild flowers growing every where. Round valley is the valley just north of Garcia. When we used to travel the road through Garcia we went through Round valley and we could always count on seeing many Star Flowers and Tiger Lilies even after the big timber had been cut out. And the new pines were growing everywhere. Cliff Whetten used to say when we would be going through Round Valley, "Every time I come through here I get the heart burn from eating so much corn bread and molasses when we lived here when I was just a boy." The Garcia creek runs through Round Valley and makes it an Ideal place for a home farm and ranch. Today there is a ranch there and the cattle seem to do well. The Garcia creek runs north and goes through box canyon into the river at Corrales.

Hyrum also mentioned Peacock as being one of their camps while hunting. Peacock is a high narrow valley with a stream running through it and in that day was covered with beautiful timber on gentle slopes that were covered with waving grass. Even today it is covered with new pines with very little underbrush and no oaks or cedars grow here at this altitude. The main road has gone through Peacock since the lumber companies built the roads from Hop Valley to La Mesa del Huracan.

Hyrum must have been a very good trapper because he mentions trapping Wolves along with Bear and Lions. He mentions this at first but later he caught no Wolves because the Wolves are extremely hard to Trap especially after catching one or two in the area. His success on his hunting and trapping expeditions indicates that he was in virgin country and animals of all kinds were plentiful. I am sure that he hunted east and  west of the Gavilan River where we hunted when I was a boy. On one hunt we came onto a trail going up Bull Peak and saw nine big bucks lined up one after the other on the trail and they just stood looking at us until Dad Uncle Harvey Taylor and Steve Farnsworth shot together and killed three of them.

The country there was very beautiful and had not been logged at all and the vision of that beautiful forest remains with me today.  

As the Gavilan  turns through the Colorado in a big arc it runs north through a beautiful river valley supplying  life-giving moisture to the plants and trees along the way. This valley is high in the timbered Sierra Madre where one can drink in the peace and beauty of the land. Here the canyon is not deep and affords good grazing on the surrounding country. When I was a boy this part of the Gavilan was adorned with tall majestic pines and the stream was full of the Yaqui Rainbow Trout and was one of the favorite places to camp and fish and hunt. Today the big beautiful pines are gone and the stream is a bed of rocks and gravel from the floods caused from over grazing the land.

Hyrum Cluff Probably had his ranch on the Gavilan. From his description and he mentions taking hunting parties into the Blue Mountains which are west of the Gavilan River         Hyrum Cluff didn't come back after the revolution to live so I will take some entries from other Journals to describe the country before the Sawmills. The sawmills that the Mormons owned and operated were small ones and were moved often and did no damage to the country.

From the Journals of Aldo Leopold:  December 23, 1937

Finally arrived at Colonia Pacheco after surviving the hazards of two days of Mexican travel. The Chihuahua Flyer landed us safely in Casas Grandes yesterday afternoon but Mr. Cluff didn't get in until dark, owing to snow and bad roads. Spent a cold night in the Hotel Regis but we were all impressed with the luxury of running water. The proprietress after showing us our rooms. Ushered us promptly down the hall to the door marked Caballeros, and pointed proudly at the Crane fixture that really flushed, obviously and innovation in Casas Grandes. The truck ride this morning was and adventure in itself. The road followed and old Railroad grade up the mountain. And in one cut a ten ton boulder has slipped during the night   apparently blocking the road. The measured opening proved to be about 3 inches narrower than the truck box, nevertheless by a series of carefully manipulated plunges, we got it through, how, we still don't clearly understand. That international truck, with it's mountain training must have quarter-back hips. 24 December (Clarence Lunt's home)

Striker took Clarence's old shot gun down to the creek this morning and bagged a little meat for camp--- three Snipe and a Teal. There were at least a dozen snipe and some 30 or 40 ducks, mostly teal and mallards.

The pack train set out at 10:00 A. M. and pulled into camp by mid afternoon. We had plenty of time to get things organized before dark. Clarence and Harl turned right home so as not to miss the Christmas dance.    

Carl took a walk before dark and put up two does but failed to get a shot. 26 December

We have meat in camp tonight Carl knocked down a nice little doe with a clean shoulder shot. Four does crossed the point 30 yards behind him and he took the smallest one. A big buck was following them 20 seconds behind but Carl didn't see him till too late.

We saw four bucks and eleven does during the  days hunt on Diablo Mesa. The bucks seem to all be on points where they can duck out of sight in a split second. Jump shooting apparently is no dice for a bow.

Just as we were reconvening at the horses Carl and I spotted a bunch of gobblers on Perdita Mesa (la Mesa Perdida) a mile to the northeast. We shall give them a chase tomorrow. Mr. Johnson (Harl's son Floyd) was waiting for us at the horses. He saw a javalina not twenty minutes before we came.

Liver and Kidney stew for dinner and early to bed.

8 January 1938

Ir was very dark indeed when Clarence Carl and I pointed toward Perdita Mesa after a scanty breakfast of cold venison and java. We arrived at the saddle somewhat scratched and disheveled after a brushy ride in the dark, but with plenty of time to get into position before dawn broke. Just as the horned owl gave his last hoot and it became possible to distinguish objects on the opposite hillside, Clarence started chirping on that Macaroni. He was immediately rewarded with and answer from about 300 yards to the west just beyond the saddle where the birds had scattered the night before.  A little conversation ensued and soon other voices were heard coming closer. In ten minutes the birds appeared on the opposite hill top, a bunch of six! This was the critical moment and suspense was intense as they stood there with heads raised, looking and trying to decide whether to keep coming. A low nonchalant chirp or two from the macaroni stick turned the trick, and here they came  single file, down the hill on an easy trot. They dropped out of sight into the gully and reappeared after what seemed and interminable time, 20 yards to Carl's left and 25 yards from me. At Clarence's signal the bombardment started, and when the smoke cleared two birds were down for good. Our shooting was poor, we should have had more, and the big old gobbler in the bunch escaped unscratched, but we were delighted with what we had. Both birds were young, Carl's a coming gobbler with a little beard and mine a hen.

On the way back to camp we stopped and Clarence suggested that we try a chirp or two to try and locate the scattered singles. We slipped out to a sharp point and to our surprise he got immediate answers. Several birds came slowly toward us, but instead of coming straight they cautiously swung in a wide circle, and unfortunately ran across our saddle horses. That was the end of those birds; They took immediate flight and we saw them no more. A saddled horse, Clarence says, will frighten a turkey as much as a man.

Spent the rest of the day up in the breaks of the Blue. I had a forty yard shot at a spiker, looking at his head and ears over a rise. Shot for his shoulder and though the arrow skimmed through the grass as it went over the rise. it passed just over his withers. A definite rule should be, shoot for the head when that's all you can see.

Dad was nearly run over by the granddad buck of the whole Gavilan. Clarence put him out and he ran right into Carl who turned him down toward Dad with a well placed charge of shot in the dirt. He arrived there really making knots and so took Dad by storm that he didn't even shoot. There should be traffic laws to prevent that sort of thing.

That is a few of the entries in the dairy of Aldo Leopold on that particular trip. He later came back to find the Gavilan all changed with the stream full of sawdust and the canyon washed and eroded. He wrote a big article on the sad changes that had occurred and the reasons for the change.

About 1940 the big sawmills came in and cut the timber and left it waste and the ranchers began to overstock and overgraze the land. They killed off the wolves to protect their cattle and killed the Deer to eat. The wild Turkey are the only ones that have survived in good numbers.

For years we have been able to hunt Turkey in the gobbling season with success all along the rim of the Diablo canyon the Turkey still roost there and we have been able to harvest a few big gobblers each year. Last year we got two on the rim of the Diablo, that seems to be where they like to roost and they still answer the chirp of a wing bone.

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