Apaches, Mountains and Pies: Three Connections Spanning Three Centuries
Today, sightseers often travel from Tucson on the scenic Catalina Highway to historic Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon.
But 120 years ago, that same route was traveled for a much different purpose by United States Army troops during the Apache Wars.
The Apache Wars, which raged in Arizona and the surrounding area for the last half of the 19th century, were a series of campaigns of the U.S. troops against the Apache tribe that was fighting to regain control of land.
During those campaigns, troops set up posts in Fort Lowell, part of present-day Tucson. Remnants of the fort are now being preserved by Pima County in an effort to maintain the historical significance of the area's role in history.
In addition to utilizing Fort Lowell, troops also set up camp on the slopes of Mount Lemmon—one of the highest peaks in the area—to have a high-ground advantage.
To get back and forth, Army troops used the same route that later became the Catalina Highway, which was completed in 1950.
Now, many tourists travel up the mountain from Tucson to Summerhaven to experience a taste of old Arizona, which for years often came in the form of one of “Pie Lady” Pam Rinella’s beloved pies. Her pies were served at Mount Lemmon Café, which closed after Rinella’s death in September 2008.
Only the location of Mount Lemmon Café remains. The building was recently demolished, putting a permanent end to one sweet connection between Arizona's present and past.
Illustration by Whitney Phillips