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Museums & Historical Tours

museum

The influences of Native Americans, pioneers, ranchers, bandits and Hispanic settlers have all contributed to the charm and uniqueness of the White Mountain area. Examples of this culture can be seen in ruins, archaeological sites, towns and reservations. Museums and historical tours celebrate the rich heritage and history of the White Mountains.

Local Museums

The Little House Museum accommodates exhibits and relics from the region’s past along with a rare collection of working antique musical instruments. Historical photos and artifacts help depict what life was like during that time. Presentations on ranchers, pioneers, outlaws and actor John Wayne are must-sees. The museum is by guided tours only.

The Rene Cushman Museum features an art collection donated to the Springerville LDS Church by benefactor Rene Cushman. The collection includes Rembrandt engravings, pen drawings by Tiepolo, Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s piano as well as other fine European art and furniture that date from the Renaissance to early 20th century. Open by appointment only, the Springerville-Eagar Chamber of Commerce (928-333-2123) can be contacted for more information.

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The Show Low Historical Society Museum displays commonly used household items and tools from 1870-1940. Ten rooms are dedicated to the people and towns of the White Mountain area, with highlights including a wooden aquaduct, telephone switchboard, blacksmith shop and jail cell. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays during April through October, and private tours are available.

The Apache County Historical Society Museum in St. Johns has fascinating ancient and historical exhibits—some from prehistoric times. Offering insight into the area’s history, items on display include a fully furnished log cabin from 1882, a mammoth tusk that was discovered locally, a large coffee crusher, a wooden packsaddle and 24,000-year-old camel bones. Private tours open to the public and by reservation only.

The White Mountain Apache Cultural Center, located in Fort Apache Historic Park, preserves and celebrates the tribe’s heritage. The center contains Native artifacts, a display of animals that inhabit the White Mountains and a gallery of Native American art. It is home to the Nohwike' Bagowa (“house of our footprints”) Museum Shop, which offers White Mountain Apache basketry, beadwork, Crown Dancer figures and other Apache arts, books, and Fort Apache and White Mountain mementos.

Historical Tours

Snowflake is home to the Historic Pioneer Homes Tour, one of the Arizona’s premier walking and driving tours. Over 100 historical buildings (many on state and national historic registries) are available for viewing, with nine open for public tours and two established museums. Many of these homes have been carefully restored and portray the diversity of 19th-century pioneer architecture. Both self-guided tours and guided tours are available.

The Fort Apache and Apache Village Tour is a historical, cultural and archeological experience. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort Apache (an army outpost established in 1870) is owned by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Visitors can walk through Fort Apache with the assistance of a self-guided or guided walking tour and visit the old military cemetery. Apache guides also lead tours to Kinishba (just west of Fort Apache), depicting the history of ancestral Pueblo inhabitants, archaeology and information on plants and animals of the area. Additionally presented are the Apache Nature Trail and Village, showing traditional uses of plants, valley animals and Apache village activities.

The Casa Malpais Archaeological Park consists of carefully preserved 13th-century ruins of the Mogollon culture. A national historic landmark, the Casa Malpais Ruins feature a Great Kiva constructed from volcanic rock, a basalt stairway, shrines and petroglyphs. Guided tours are offered daily and a museum and gift shop are open to visitors.

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Prehistoric carvings can be viewed at Lyman Lake, which offers two Petroglyph Trails: the Peninsula Petroglyph Trail and the Ultimate Petroglyph Trail. The Peninsula Trail consists of a mild 1/4-mile climb and is open during daylight hours every day. The Ultimate Trail is a 1/2-mile steep trail that can only be accessed by boat. The trail ends at a large petroglyph-covered boulder called Ultimate Rock. Tours are available through the Ranger Station at 928-337-4441.

Available at the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber and Reed’s Lodge are two pamphlets titled Pistols, Plows and Petticoats that describe self-guided tours to historical markers in the towns and nearby mountains.

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