Heritage & Culture

Charged with two missions, to protect settlers in the area and to prevent the Chiricahua Apache raiding parties from escaping into Mexico, Captain Samuel M. Whitside and Company B of the 6th U.S. Cavalry rode into the southeastern corner of what is now Arizona in March 1877. After inspecting the ruins of a former U.S. Army camp and determining it unacceptable, Captain Whitside scouted the surrounding mountains, finding a heavily wooded canyon far better for his soldiers and their mission. Camp Huachuca was established. Five years later, the camp was declared a permanent U.S. Army post, and was recommissioned as a fort.

Almost a decade later, Fort Huachuca became the headquarters of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles, whose campaign against Geronimo is legendary. Shortly thereafter, the arrival of the first black soldiers of the 10th U.S. Cavalry earned the Fort the nickname, “Home of the Buffalo Soldiers.” In 1913, these soldiers served under Brigadier General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in the 1916 punitive expeditions into Mexico against Francisco “Pancho” Villa.

Typical of U.S. Army installations, a small community formed outside the post gates. As it grew, the community underwent several name changes, from Buena in 1915 to Overton to Garden Canyon and eventually to Fry. When incorporated in 1956, the City earned it’s permanent name: Sierra Vista.

The U.S. Census of 1950 recorded a population of 50 persons living in Fry. In 1956, when incorporated, the population had reached 1671. Today, the population of Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca is over 40,000 and serves as the commercial, cultural, and recreational hub of Southeast Arizona.