PO Box 7530
Cave Creek, AZ 85327
Fax: (480) 488-0638
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Cave Creek can trace its history back over 110 years, but other men walked these hills long before any Anglos came. Various tribes of prehistoric Indians came periodically to hunt game and gather wild foods, while the Hohokam tribe settled permanently in small villages to grow crops. In doing so, they dug canals to use the waters of Cave Creek and the springs to water their fields. These prehistoric inhabitants occupied the land from about 800 A.D. until 1400 A.D. and then disappeared. They left behind the crumbling remains of their irrigation ditches and the foundations of their small houses.
After the departure of the Hohokam, the Tonto Apaches claimed the land. The Tontos did not build villages, but roamed central Arizona in small groups from their homeland in the Tonto Basin east of the Verde River. Their dominance over the land was ended by events elsewhere. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 brought thousands of miners to the West. In 1863 central Arizona had its turn at gold rush days. As prospectors explored farther eastward, the Tontos resisted their efforts of expansion and also raided their mining camps, wreaking destruction upon the settlers. To combat these raiders, the US Army established Fort McDowell on the west bank of the Verde River in 1865.
The actual town of Cave Creek can trace its beginnings to this decision. In 1870, following an Indian trail through the Cave Creek area, the military forces built the first wagon road across the land which connected Fort McDowell with Fort Whipple, near Prescott. In 1873, Cave Creek Road was built from the small village of Phoenix northward to join the Army's road near the flowing springs on the east bank of Cave Creek.
When the Apaches became less menacing, the prospectors traveled the new roads into unexplored land. In 1874 William Rowe located a rich gold mine on Gold Hill, northwest of Cave Creek on present-day Carefree Ranch. His discovery touched off a gold rush to the area. Tales of great riches to be had soon circulated through mining camps and saloons.
As the miners came and went, the land began to attract more permanent types of settlers. Jeriah Wood, a young cattleman from Missouri, established a ranch on the east bank of the creek. By 1877 he had built a home that was soon called Cave Creek Station. He sold goods to miners and travelers and kept a small post office, called Overton, at his ranch.
When mining went into one of its periodic slumps, the Overton Post Office closed and Jeriah Wood moved to Phoenix. Another Missouri cattleman, Andrew Jackson Hoskin, took over the Cave Creek Station. Hoskin moved his family to Cave Creek to live and soon other families moved in.
A lively community grew up around the Hoskin Ranch. By 1886 there was a need for a one-room school house beside the creek.
In 1890, James D. Houch, a sheepman from eastern Arizona, bought Cave Creek Station and turned it into a sheep shearing camp. Open range land surrounded the station in every direction. This, along with the post office, school, and house suited Houch perfectly. He added a rock building to house a store, the first in Cave Creek, and a saloon. He also began regular stage services to Phoenix.
Houch's shearing camp was a huge success for about ten years, then a series of misfortunes beset him. Stricter grazing laws, drought and personal problems took their toll and Houch died by his own hand in 1921. In 1924 Cave Creek Road was rerouted eastward, bypassing Houch Ranch, and old Cave Creek Station slid in to oblivion. Only a few traces of the old station remain today.
The same conditions which led to the demise of Houch's sheep business also affected the cattlemen
along the creek. But not all of them gave up, some stayed for generations. Remnants of mining
and cattle raising are still present today and a few prospectors even pick away at old claims in
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