FORT HUACHUCA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - This time of year, thunder clouds take shape, skies grow dark and nature cracks the sky with lightning bolts and rumblings of thunder. It's the monsoon.
In southern Arizona along the western edge of the San Pedro Valley, impressive storms form over the mountains that rise from the western edge of the river valley. The Indians from the past who lived here named the mountains "Huachuca." In their language, that translates to "place of thunder."
By the time the U.S. Army decided to establish a post in the Huachucas, military leaders knew that it was an ideal location to keep a watchful eye on both the Santa Cruz and San Pedro river valleys, traditional routes Apaches used to access their camps in Mexico.
Two companies of the 6th Cavalry led by Captain Samuel Marmaduke Whiteside established Camp Huachuca on March 3, 1877. In 1882, the camp received a new designation -- fort.
Fort Huachuca was the home to the 10th Cavalry, the famous Buffalo Soldiers, from 1892 to 1945. During this time, they took part in the 1916 punitive expedition into Mexico led by Brigadier General John J. Pershing. During World War I, the troops of the 10th Cavalry were used to guard the United States-Mexico border.
The modern era of Fort Huachuca began in the mid-1950s when it became the home to the Electronic Proving Ground. The climate was considered ideal for testing electronic and communications equipment.
In 1967, the headquarters of the Army Communications Command was moved to the post, and in 1971, the fort became the home of the Army Intelligence Center and School.
In October 1990, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center was relocated to the post.
Today, Fort Huachuca is a major military installation in Arizona and one of the most prominent the Southwest.
There are two museums on the installation. The Fort Huachuca Museum and the Military Intelligence Museum are both worthwhile visits for any military history buffs.
The area is a prime location for wildlife sighting with whitetail deer, three species of quail, black bear, mountain lion, and a jaguar was even sighted on the fort in December of 2016.
There are many nearby points of interest:
Sierra Vista is the city located just outside Fort Huachuca. Its farmer's market has been voted one of the best in the state.
Coronado National Memorial commemorates the first organized expedition into the Southwest in 1540 by conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.
Ramsey Canyon Preserve is the "hummingbird capital of the United States." Up to 14 species of hummingbirds are included in the more than 150 species of birds in the preserve, making this peaceful oasis one of the best bird-watching spots in the world.
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is one of the most important riparian areas in the United States; the San Pedro River runs north into the United States from Mexico.
Tombstone is the legendary city where the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place.
Sonoita is southern Arizona's wine country with several wineries to investigate.
If you want to visit Fort Huachuca, making your way onto the post will take a few minutes. As an active military post, everyone has to check in at the main gate.
The Visitors Control Center at the Van Deman Gate is always open. Residents of the local area will get a pass good for one year. Other visitors will be issued a 30-day pass. Typically, the processing time for a pass is 15-20 minutes, although that may take longer at peak times such as Mondays during the morning commute time.