Tag Archives: Old West

Arizona ghost town: Gleeson

I took a trip out to the ghost town of Gleeson one day last month and met up with the jail’s owner, Tina Miller.

Gleeson Jail; Photo by Luanne Mattson

She and her partner bought the jail, and have turned it into a mini-museum. Inside the jail, you can see Native American artifacts, Western gear including old saddles, tack, an old bunk, mining and prospecting tools, ranching tools and other antiques.

The jail was built of reinforced concrete in 1910. Before that, the town jail was a nearby tree.

Gleeson's Jail Tree

The marshals would handcuff the prisoners to the tree, and they’d be forced to endure the elements. Next to the Jail Tree is a natural wash. Sometimes after a rainstorm, the water would rise dangerously close to the prisoners.

Since I was headed down, I called ahead, and Tina met me to open the jail. She then treated me to a tour of the area.

Between 1900 and 1920, Gleeson’s population swelled to about 1,000 people. On the website, it says, “In the downtown section of Gleeson, the population is exactly zero.” A few people live nearby, but they generally like the wide open spaces of this little ghost town. Mining

Here are pictures of other structures nearby:

Joe Bono saloon (Photo by Luanne Mattson)

This saloon, once owned by Joe Bono, is practically falling down. If you go, please do not attempt to enter it!

Gleeson's Shannon Hospital (Photo by Luanne Mattson)

Gleeson school

The foundation is all that remains from Gleeson’s third school (they kept outgrowing them).

There are plenty of other stories waiting for you to discover! The Gleeson jail is open to visitors the first Saturday of each month. Historian Glenn Snow is usually there to tell visitors about Gleeson’s heydays and the area’s history. Gleeson is about 15 miles from Tombstone via a dirt road. It’s also accessible by a paved road off of Highway 191 from the east.

For directions, check the Gleeson Web site. Please check their  calendar and hours of operation before you go. The jail is privately owned, as is most of the surrounding land.

If you want to explore the history a bit before you go, check out the historical sketches, which are written by Glenn Snow and are about bootleggers, scam artists and unsavory characters of the Old West.

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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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Cochise County’s weekend events celebrate Old West

April 3-5, Tombstone Old West Founders Days, Tombstone

Tombstone’s annual March celebration known as Ed Schieffelin Territorial Days has a new name: Old West Founders Days. It is now presented jointly with the Rose Tree Festival. Tombstone is home to the “World’s Largest Rose Tree,” according to the Guinness record book. Enjoy history with mining displays, performances, exhibition, the Tombstone Gun Show, “Taste of Tombstone” featuring samples from local restaurants and evening concerts as well as the Rose Parade and crowning of the Rose Queen!

Details: April 3-5,on Allen Street.Admission is free. Call 888-457-3929 or visit www.tombstonechamber.com for more info.

April 3-5, Frontier Days & All Women’s Rodeo, Sierra Vista

Frontier Days will combine with the All Women’s Rodeo for a weekend of Western fun. Days will be filled with dancing, ventriloquists, comedy, performances by local dance schools, the Sierra Vista Chorus and Miss Sierra Vista, plus live performances by country rock artists. The Sierra Vista Kennel Club will have a breed show and canine events. If that’s not enough, there will be a carnival and beer garden! Tickets are available at the Sierra Vista Visitors Center, Spur Western Wear, Windemere Hotel and Boot Barn.

Details: Gates open at 11 a.m. at the Sierra Vista Riding Club Arena, 401 Guilio Cesare Dr.

Frontier Days Admission: $5 per person to the fair

Rodeo Admission: $10 per person, general admission; $15 reserved seats (includes admission to fair)

More info at 520-417-6960.

April 5 & 6, Copper Cities Limited Rail Excursions, Bowie

Visitors can relive the romance of rail travel in this excursion through the land that includes the history of the Old West, mining boomtowns and the Chiricahua Apaches. The train will consist of a full-length dome, an open window coach and a lounge observation car. The charter passenger train rides will travel from Globe, Ariz. to Bowie, Ariz. Passengers will travel by bus for the first leg of the trip and return by train. Another excursion will travel from Duncan, Ariz. to Lordsburg, NM, Clifton, Ariz. and return to Duncan. Sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, which has operated similar trips in more than 20 states.

When: 8 a.m. departure from Bowie, April 5; 8 a.m. departure from Duncan, April 6

Where: round trip begins in Bowie, Ariz. (4/5) & Duncan, Ariz. (4/6)

Tickets: $220 per person, per day

Info: http://www.techscribes.com/sarm/Arizona%20Eastern.htm

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World Championship Blacksmith competition Willcox

Photos courtesy of Christine Trnka

Photos courtesy of Christine Trnka

Blacksmiths from around the country and the world will compete in the World Championship Blacksmith competition starting tomorrow, Jan. 29. Blacksmithing is a traditional cowboy trade that continues in the 21st Century.

About 50 competitors will demonstrate their skill in forging steel with competitions and clinics for three days.

Competitions will be held in the afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. Spectators are welcome.

Blacksmithing clinics will be held daily from 8 a.m. to noon.

All events will be held at the Quail Park Rodeo Grounds in Willcox. Admission is free for spectators. Call 1-800-200-2272 for more info.

Photo courtesy of Christine Trnka

Photo courtesy of Christine Trnka

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Wyatt Earp statue

wyatt-earp-statue-unveiling21

Last week we told you about the new statue going in at the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery in Tombstone. I have pictures! Quite a few people were there. Another homage to the Old West and the famous gunfight.

Were you there? What do you thnk of the 8-foot bronze? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

wyatt-earp-statue-unveiling3

wyatt-earp-statue-unveiling1

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Wyatt Earp statue to be unveiled

An eight-foot bronze statue will be unveiled in Tombstone. The statue was completed by master sculptor, Tim Trask, who works out of A Gallery of Dreams, his family’s gallery in St. David, just south of Benson.

Tim Trask sculpts Wyatt Earp's likeness

Tim Trask sculpts Wyatt Earp

The statue, titled “Stepping into Legend,” will be unveiled at 2:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14. It shows Earp poised to take that first stride toward the notorious O.K. Corral and the famous Old West gun battle. The event will take place at the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery, located at 102 E. Fremont St.

The Earp family will be represented at the event by Ralph N. Earp from Pennsylvania. Steve Vermillion of Missouri will appear for the “Federal Posse.” Wild West History Association founding president, Bob McCubbin, will be called upon to address the audience. Terry “Ike” Clanton will be asked to say a few words on behalf of “The Cowboys,” including The Notorious Clanton Clan.

A limited-edition 22-inch bronze replica of “Stepping into Legend” will be available at the event. Only 30 of the bronze macquettes (replicas) will be produced. More than half have been purchased already.  

For more information about the statue, please call The Gallery of Dreams at 520-720-2649 or email agalleryofdreams@yahoo.com.

About the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery: The lawman’s original home, tiny by today’s standards at only 378 square feet, has been restored by owners Jim and Liz Allen. Today, it is open to the public and houses a fine art gallery. It is located at 102 E. Freemont Street in Tombstone. Visit the website for more information on the home’s restoration.

Visit the Cochise County website for more Old West and ranching history.

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Do the math for good deals

I just read a blog post from the folks at WeJustGotBack.com. They had an interesting tip about how to evaluate deals. If you’re looking for bargains, they say, make sure you do the math!

The post compares three offers: (1) get 50% off the second night, (2) your fourth night free or (3) 30% off each night. What’s the best deal? Check out their post to find out.

Most of us are looking for great experiences when we travel. But now especially, it’s important to get our money’s worth. Cochise County in southeastern Arizona has so many fantastic things to explore. And, it’s a great place to find value. Whether it’s Old West history, birding and nature, the arts, great food or Native American history, this diverse area has a lot to offer.

You can find a lot of great ideas for your next vacation at Cochise County’s Web site, www.explorecochise.com.

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