Cave Creek Canyon: Then and Now

Everything changes and evolves and many are uncomfortable with that notion.  Many find security in the idea of permanence and long for places that are unchanging.  But the reality is change is the norm not the exception as exampled by the Horseshoe Two Fire of 2011 which involved a rapid change in the Chiricahua Mountains.

How is change measured and quantified?  For many it is memory based, and the first line starts "I remember when..." and frequently ends with "it is all ruined now".  But there are alternatives ways to measure change that are more quantitative and do not rely on the imperfections of memory.  One methodology is photographic.  Images captured over period of time can be used to document change and are neutral recordings of changes in the landscape.

Below are 2 images of the entrance to Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains of the Coronado National Forest.  The first is a postcard taken in the 1940's, while the second is a photograph taken from the same place on September 18, 2011, a span of 60-70 years.

Note the changes in the entryway, the bronze plaque is missing as is the left stone pillar.   Cathedral Rock as well as the other outcrops are the same but an abundance of low scrubby vegetation has grown up obscuring part of the view.  But the overall density of vegetation covering the lower slopes appears similar.

1940's view of the entrance to the Coronado National Forest in Cave Creek Canyon.

The same view taken September 18, 2011.


  1. What a great comparison, you did very good.

  2. Thank you. I have several other photographs from Cave Creek Canyon that I'm processing for comparison with other older photographs I've come across. I have noticed there is some difference that presumably related to the lens used then and the lens used for the replicate photograph.

  3. Great comparison! You got the right spot and the right angle! The difference I WISH would go back to 'the way it was' is that the bears would go back up top. I heard their favorite juniper berries are ripening up there. Fingers crossed; toes crossed and EYES crossed that the bears go back UP.

  4. The bears will soon be returning to their dens to hibernate. Hopefully, they will have put on enough reserves to overwinter successfully.