With the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, commanders at Fort Huachuca established tent camp at the point where the El Paso and Southwestern railroad line crossed the border into Mexico, at Naco, Arizona. It was initially manned by the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry, and later the 25th Infantry, collectively known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Its mission was to protect the railroad, prevent smuggling, and maintain the peace. In 1919 a permanent camp, named Camp Naco, was constructed by the US War Department’s Mexican Border Defense Construction Project, a response to unsettled conditions along the US/Mexico border. Part of a 1,200-mile chain of thirty-five permanent military camps, Camp Naco was one of only two constructed of adobe. When the camps were decommissioned in 1923, most were deconstructed so that their materials could be used elsewhere, but Camp Naco, built of adobe, remained in place. As a result, it remains the only camp to retain its historic integrity today.
Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of archaeologists, military historians, Buffalo Soldiers and local citizens, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the Naco Heritage Alliance, was created to preserve Camp Naco. Because of their work, Camp Naco was purchased by the City of Bisbee in 2018, and four years later was named one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Places, bringing national attention to the need to save the site. That same year an award-winning Story Map created by a team led by The University of Arizona students highlighted the rich history of the Camp, illuminating the important role of the Buffalo Soldiers as effective peacekeepers within the segregated military of the period. Combined, these milestones paved the way for substantial grant funding in 2022 from both the Mellon Foundation and the State of Arizona to rehabilitate Camp Naco.
In 2023, the City of Bisbee initiated hiring a team of specialists to begin rehabilitation efforts and to pave the way for a lasting Naco Heritage Alliance to guide the process. Through a series of stakeholder meetings and events, we are reaching out to the local community, as well as those groups who will benefit from the rehabilitation, to explore a wide range of future uses for Camp Naco, both historical and contemporary. This project seeks to embody three guiding principles: commemoration of history, expanding cultural opportunities, and to serve as a resource for the communities of Naco and throughout southern Cochise County.
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Camp Naco: 520-432-9031