Prior to the 1917 topographic map of area, the San Simon Valley was utilized primarily for cattle. The best known operator in the area was the San Simon Canal and Cattle company, although other ranches grazed cattle throughout the valley. Established in 1885 and surviving until 1920 the San Simon Canal and Cattle company was founded by James Harrison Parramore and Claiborne Walker Merchant. While the open grasslands were inviting to ranchers, water was always an issue. The approach utilized by the San Simon Cattle company was to gain control of local water resources while ignoring the open grasslands. Since open range was the rule, this approach allowed the cattle company to use forage on the public domain while not incurring any liability for the land upon which its' cattle grazed. While maximizing investment return the long term consequences for the landscape were negative but this approach allowed them to stock between 20,000 and 30,000 head of cattle in the valley during this period.
The time frame between the establishment of corporate ranches and the Gadsden Purchase the Chiricahua Apache were the predominant group living on the landscape. This period is may be best characterized as one of conflict between the US government and those indigenous peoples living on in the area. The end of this period of conflict was in 1886 with the surrender of Geronimo at the mouth of Skeleton Canyon.
Evidence of the Chiricahua Apache may still be found on the landscape, although no evidence of occupation has been found on the Painted Pony Resort, a granary of sticks and mud enclosing a small shelter cave exists on the east side of the Chiricahua mountains near a narrow canyon with other evidence of occupation which likely dates from this period.
As Spain, then Mexico, and then the United States claimed the area maps were produced by each party claiming the area and were used in treaty negotiations. A number of these maps were compiled into a video as part of the inventory showing the relationships between current landmarks and the landscape as visualized by the mapmakers of the time spanning the period from the late 1700's to the first territorial map produced in 1857.
Cultural resource inventory II
Cultural resource inventory I