Category Archives: Old West

Hey kids, let’s go to the… saloon?

Relax, folks this is a wholesome saloon. It is brand new to the movie set at Gammons Gulch, just north of Benson.

Gammons Gulch's new saloon set ©Gammons Gulch

Last year, a movie called “The Gundown” was filmed at Gammons Gulch, here in Cochise County, and the moviemakers wanted a saloon to film in. So, after raising money, the saloon was built. It’s now an 1,100-square-foot movie saloon!

They don’t serve alcohol, so it’s safe to bring the kids.

Just imagine: a gunslinger charges through the swinging doors, card games screech to a halt and chairs scrape the floor. A shoot out is bound to happen! But we’ll just have to wait to see if The Gundown includes one of those scenes or if a wise sheriff or marshal will talk them out of pulling that trigger.

George Scott, former mayor of Benson and a member of Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group, helped raise funds to build the saloon.

Take a tour of Gammons Gulch today to learn about the movie set and see what I call a place that is like the “Antiques Roadshow on Steroids”!

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July 4th getaway

Looking to get away for July Fourth? Start celebrating early with Benson’s fireworks and Sierra Vista’s talent show on Saturday July 3. Then round out your weekend on July Fourth with coaster races, mucking and drilling contests, softball tournaments, the People & Pets Parade and fireworks in Bisbee, Sierra Vista and Tombstone.

Benson July Fourth Celebration, to be held July 3, 2010

Get a preview of fireworks in Benson! The community will commemorate its 130-year anniversary with a then-and-now slide show, the annual parade, and the popular “Water Fight” at Lions Park. Volunteer fire departments compete in the water fight. They use fire hoses to move a barrel on a pulley system, sliding the barrel toward the opposing team. Spectators often get a refreshing soak, and the kids get to play in the mud.  Entertainment and music throughout the day, with fireworks at dusk and a family dance held at Lion’s Park at night.

When:  July 3, 2010 Parade 9 a.m., Water Fight 10:30 a.m., Fireworks 8:30 p.m.

Where:  Benson

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-586-4293, Benson Visitor Center or info@bensonvisitorcenter.com

4th of July in Bisbee, Bisbee

The famous Bisbee Coaster Races, the oldest and longest gravity-powered race in the U.S., start down Tombstone Canyon at 8:30 a.m. Between heats, the Bisbee Iron Man Mile will be held. A parade will be in Bisbee’s Warren section. Re-created Bisbee’s early miners’, mucking and drilling contests are held in the afternoon with shovels and four-pound hammers flying. The Bisbee Copper Kings will host its third annual baseball tournament Warren Ballpark, with fireworks at dark.

When:  beginning at 9 a.m., July 4

Where:  Bisbee locations

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-432-6016 or Bisbee Visitor Center events

43rd Annual 4th of July Festivities, Sierra Vista

The party begins July 3 with a youth talent show at Veterans’ Memorial Park, followed by a street dance with the popular band “Train Wreck.” Celebrations include the Pets & People parade, with entertainment, food and displays. City officials and dignitaries will address the crowd at a noon ceremony. A spectacular fireworks show starts at dusk at the Paiz/Stone Complex, on Tacoma Street.

When:  6 p.m., July 3; all day, July 4

Where: Veterans’ Memorial Park, 3105 E. Fry Blvd.

Admission: Free

Info:  520-266-2304 or Sierra Vista Visitor July events calendar or www.visitsierravista.com

July 4, Family Style 4th of July at Medigovich Field, Tombstone

America’s independence is celebrated in Tombstone with the annual softball tournament. Street entertainment and a rousing fireworks display at dusk round out the too-tough-to-die town’s events.
When:  8:30 a.m.

Where:  Medigovich Field, Allen Street

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-457-3994 or Tombstone Chamber

July 3 & 4, Douglas’ “sporty” July 4th

If you and your kids can’t get enough of sports, check out the July 4th celebration in Douglas. They’ll have a variety of sports tournaments: youth soccer, golf, adult flag football and softball. You must pre-register. In addition, there will be food and craft vendors plus a Patriotic Parade downtown on Avenue G at 10 a.m. Fireworks will shoot off at on July 4th at 8:45 p.m.

For more info contact the City of Douglas Recreation Center at 520-417-7340.

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Tombstone’s rose tree in full bloom

Tombstone's famous rose tree

Tombstone's famous rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

This rose tree covers over 8,000 square feet!

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Old West towns in Cochise County

Mining fueled Tombstone's boom town days. Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

Gunslingers.  Apaches. Cowboys.  The Calvary and the Indian Wars. All of these are memories of the Old West.

Tombstone is the one of the most memorable towns of the Old West. It’s a legendary Arizona town because of the Hollywood films like Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell (plus Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott), and Wyatt Earp, starring Kevin Costner (and a long list of others: Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid, Catherine O’Hara and Isabella Rosselini to name a few).

The town of Tombstone is real; it’s not a fake town built just for the movie. And the incidents that happen in that town in 1881 inspired those movies (though Tombstone historians would tell you that Hollywood got lots of details wrong). Start a visit at the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park to find out what really happened at the O.K. Corral on that fateful day in October.

Make sure you plan more than just a day in Cochise County, because there’s plenty of Old West history to explore. Ghost towns line the San Pedro River, and with the nearby Chiricahua Mountains, the heartland of Cochise, Geronimo, and the Chiricahua Apache, you can really get a great overall view of what the Old West was really like.

Nearby, Sierra Vista has its share of Old West history as Fort Huachuca is the “Home of the Buffalo Soldiers.” The Sierra Vista Visitor Center created an audio driving tour CD to entertain and educate visitors on their drives in Cochise County. The late Rex Allen narrates the tour. He shares the area history, legends and myths. You can download a free copy of the CD, “How the West was Fun” by visiting the Sierra Vista website, or by calling 1-800-288-3861. Two drives are available: one from Tucson to Sierra Vista and one from Willcox to Sierra Vista.

Visit  the Old West and Ranching page of the county’s Cochise Origins website for an overview of the area’s history.

Have you explored any other Old West sites in Cochise County? Leave a comment below, and tell us about your experience!

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May events in Cochise County

Memorial Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking for something to do for the holiday or the following weekend, check out these events in Cochise County.

May 22-24, Bisbee Gem and Mineral Show, Bisbee

Gems and minerals from many regions will be on display. If you’re a rock hound, this event is for you.

Details: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Queen Mine Tour. Admission is free. For more info, call 520-432-2071 or see event information on Bisbee’s website.

May 23, Pedal the Paths, Sierra Vista

Grab your bike and head down to Sierra Vista! Take one of four routes that start and end at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Routes vary from 10 to 31 miles long.  The no-cost rides are on some or all of Sierra Vista’s 19 miles of multi-use paths. Portions of the routes between the paths will be on bike lanes and low-traffic streets.

Details: Ride start times are between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and begin near the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway entrance to Veterans’ Park. Riders under 18 years old must wear bicycling helmets, as required by City Ordinance. Route maps and information are available at the Parks & Leisure Services Office in the Oscar Yrun Center, the Sierra Vista Library, M&M Cycling and Sun ‘N Spokes bike shops, and Fort Huachuca’s Barnes Field House and Eifler Fitness Center.

For more info, call 520-458-7922.

May 23-25, Wyatt Earp Days, Tombstone

Gunfight reenactments fill the streets, along with a chili cook-off, hangings, street entertainment, look-alike contests and an 1880’s fashion show.

Details: The events begin at 10 a.m. Saturday through Monday in historic downtown Tombstone. Admission is free. For more info, call 520-457-3511.

May 30 & 31, Willcox Rod & Classic Car Show, Willcox

The 3rd annual car show will be held in the Willcox Historic District on Railroad Ave. For information contact the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture at 520-384-2272 or the Rex Allen Museum at 520-384-4583 or info@rexallenmuseum.org.

Visit each community’s website for information on traveling to Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Willcox.

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Stunning photo of Tombstone

I came across Mark Harmel’s blog post of travel through Cochise County. He took this shot of Tombstone, and I think it is stunning!

It’s a great use of light at sunrise. The Old West never looked so rich. It almost as if the buildings are covered in precious metals, which is how Tombstone was founded… as a result of prospectors looking for gold and silver.

What do you think? Do you have any photos to share? If so, pass on the link, and I’ll share it!

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Fairbank tells part of Arizona history

Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

If you like ghost towns, check out the historic site of Fairbank. It was once a thriving depot along the rail line that took passengers from Arizona into Mexico.

Travel writer, Nancy Yackel, wrote a great post about the history of Fairbank. Visit her site to learn more.

Want to know more? Visit Cochise County and the old Fairbank town site yourself! Check out the Cochise County web site for more details.

Other ghost towns in Cochise County include Charleston, Millville, Gleeson and others. You might also want to check out another Web site devoted entirely to ghost towns. Here’s the link for those in Cochise County.

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