We recently visited Bisbee and Naco with a side trip to John Slaughter’s Ranch, aka, the San Bernardino Ranch, a National Historic Site now operated as a part of the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. For those of you who are not familiar with the story of John Slaughter and the San Bernardino Ranch, you can read about it here.
This story is about the road to and from the ranch. We had heard that the border wall had affected the land and the refuge, and all but drained the lake, which makes a great place to picnic under the cottonwood trees. So, we decided to see for ourselves what had happened to the ranch while we were fighting off a pandemic and the Border Wall was being built not 100 yards from the ranch house.
On our way down the 17 mile long road, Geronimo Trail, we noticed that the ocotillo were abundant, a mama cow was feeding her calf, and a huge area had been carved out of the desert, presumably as a staging area for the equipment to build this wall. The wall is not as obtrusive as I thought it would be, but I fear that wildlife disruption may still be an issue. Enough said.
Along the way, we came across a horse. Not just any horse. This one was a child’s toy, seated on springs. What? Above the self-powered horse was a sign. It read: Pony Rides 5 minutes for 25 cents. WTH? Okay, we have to stop here on the way back. And onward we went.
We parked in front of what suffices for an office or Visitor’s Center. Two folks and two sweet pups were minding the store. I asked a few questions and left. The folks indicated that the people who built the wall were very conscientious about their use of water. From the NPS. gov website, it looks like the lake still prospers and picnics are welcome.
However, the Slaughter Ranch is anything but ADA accessible. Perhaps we should talk to the government about that. In any case, we headed back the way we came. We stopped along the way a few times to take some scenic pictures and then at the little pony, sitting out in the middle of nowhere, Waiting for a rider who was willing to pay 25 cents for a self-propelled ride. Evidence exists that there was once a Bull Ride there too. As I recall, it was a dollar for 90 seconds. LOL.
Having had a good laugh, we scratched our heads and moved on. Not 2 minutes later we passed two border patrol trucks. Looking in the rearview mirror, we noticed that they pulled out behind us and followed us for a bit before pulling us over. The lady border patrol agent approached us. We determined that she would be a lot less threatening. Jim rolled down the window. “What is your citizenship?” she asked. “U.S.”, Jim replied. “Is there anyone in the back?” “No ma’am” was Jim’s answer. She asked a couple of more questions and announced that she was satisfied we were who we professed to be and not carrying illegal anything in the back of our Ford Explorer. She did, however, offer to tell us why she stopped us, if we were interested.
Okay, I’ll bite. “Please tell us why you stopped us” I said to assuage my curiosity. “We stopped you because this is a busy drug smuggling corridor and you were stopping a lot. At this last stop, we could not tell what you had stopped for. “Really” I said. “But I thought that is what this wall in front of us is for.” She laughed and then walked away before saying too much more.
Well, I am thinking that this pony might have been strategically placed there for a reason. Your thoughts?
This retelling of our quirky encounter is meant to be just an interesting observation. Please do not confuse it with any kind of political statement.
Other articles about the Slaughter Ranch
Southern Arizona Guide has several stories about the Slaughter Ranch. Here are a few.