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
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
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
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^Å.
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
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
February 2 1910, a Comet appeared in the western
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
October, went with a hunting party from New York.
Madero was the victor of the revolution and was elected president of
July twenty fourth 1912, we held a dance and had a very
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
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
The country there was very beautiful and had not been
logged at all and the vision of that beautiful forest remains with me
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,
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
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
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
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
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.