Fort Lowell Park offers a fascinating trove of history

Fort Lowell Park has the usual facilities of playgrounds, picnic sites and ball fields but also something more: a fascinating trove of history.

The centerpiece of the park, at North Craycroft Road and East Glenn Street, is an adobe building that housed the hospital at historic Fort Lowell, which served as an army post with cavalry and infantry units from 1879 to 1891.

Other sites featuring history include the Fort Lowell Museum, with free admission, and a huge statue honoring soldiers who served during the Apache Wars in the 1870s and 1880s.

Visiting those sites adds a sense of our area’s colorful past to other park attractions including a pond with ducks, turtles and tree-shaded benches.

THE POST HOSPITAL

The hospital site is enclosed with fencing to keep people from entering the unstable building remains. But it’s possible to get a good look from outside the fence.

An information panel in front of the building provides these details:

“The Fort Lowell hospital had 13 rooms and accommodated 16 beds. The building was 60 feet wide and 120 feet long. The facility also contained an isolation ward, a surgeon’s office, a dispensary, storerooms, a wash room, morgue, and quarters for the enlisted men on the hospital staff.

“Fireplaces heated the building in winter. In summer the long hallways encouraged breezes, and shutters, porches and cottonwood trees shaded it. By the 1880s, a tin roof reduced leaks; plaster and white paint adorned the walls; and wood floors replaced dirt. Behind the hospital, to the east, sat a 20-by-78-foot kitchen building.”

FORT LOWELL MUSEUM

Located in a reproduction of the 1880s’ adobe officer quarters, the Arizona Historical Society’s Fort Lowell Museum features exhibits chronicling army life during the Apache Wars.

It’s sited on the original parade grounds with original structures associated with the fort nearby.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.

THE CHIEF TRUMPETER

A large statue — 14-feet high and weighing 3,000 pounds — called “The Chief Trumpeter” was created by artist Dan Bates and cast in bronze by Desert Crucible Inc. of Tucson.

Erected at the park to honor soldiers who served during the Apache Wars, it depicts a trumpeter on horseback with a uniform and equipment as used in 1884.

A plaque at the base of the statue notes that contributors paid the entire cost, with no taxpayer money used in the project.

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