Tag Archives: southern Arizona

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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Southern Arizona summers: find the cool spots

If you think it’s hot in Arizona in the summer, you haven’t traveled the state much. Here are three ideas for things to do and places to go in southern Arizona to get cool.

Go underground. The average temperature inside Kartchner Caverns is about 70 degrees. Insulated by layers of earth, caves are naturally cooler. While you’re cooling off, you’ll get to explore one of the world’s top 10 living caves. Throne Room tours show amazing stalactites and stalagmites that took thousands of years to form. See these wondrous formations on touts that last about an hour. Info: Kartchner Caverns State Park website

How cool is this?! Kartchner Caverns State Park® Photo by Noelle Wilson ©Arizona State Parks

Get high. No, we’re not pushing drugs. Get high in elevation. Cochise County elevations start at around 3,000 feet, and many of the peaks top out above 7,000 feet. That translates to crisp summer air. Mountain ranges include the Dragoons between Benson and Willcox, Mules where Bisbee sits, Whetstones where Kartchner Caverns is located, Chiricahuas, between Douglas and Willcox, the Huachucas in Sierra Vista, Dos Cabezas near Willcox and more. You’ll find lots of recreational opportunities like hiking and camping in Cochise County’s mountains!

Low-temperature golf at value prices. Sitting at elevations of 3,500-4,600 feet, these courses offer a respite from urban courses. Visitors can tackle the “Rattler,” a 757-yard, par-6 hole—just one of the interesting golf experiences at Cochise County’s seven public courses located in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Sunsites and Willcox. For more info, check the Cochise County Tourism Council’s golf listing.

You can find out more by contacting any of the Cochise County Visitors Centers: Benson Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Willcox.


Filed under Things to do, Travel, Uncategorized

Bird watchers: 17th Wings Over Willcox festival, January 2010

Wings Over Willcox will be held once again in January (it’s on Martin Luther King weekend each year). This is a great opportunity to connect with other birding fans and to see some birds you can add to your life lists.

The Sandhill Cranes have been in Cochise County for more than a month, and they are wintering there on the Willcox Playa and in various places throughout the Sulphur Springs Valley, which stretches from Willcox south to Douglas. The cranes are a spectacular site. They cover a spot of land and are very noisy birds. Then when they take off, they are so cool watch! Here’s a picture taken by Diane Drobka, who works for the Bureau of Land Management.

Photo (c) Diane Drobka

You can still register for the birding and nature tours; they have a few spots left. You’ll need to hurry, though, if you want your first pick! The overnight to Mulehsoe Ranch Cooperative, owned by the Nature Conservancy, has been sold out since the first day! This has turned out to be a very popular part of Wings Over Willcox. Other tours like the excursion to area ghost towns sold out quickly too. I’m surprised the day-long photography workshops are not full yet. The workshops are a great opportunity to hone your wildlife photography skills!

New this year are the following workshops and tours:

  • Easy Birding Sampler–a slow and comfortably paced tour designed for birders with limitations of endurance or mobility. Per Homer Hansen, chair of Wings Over Willcox, this tour will feature a lift bus with guides that are experienced in leading tours. “We’re happy to be able to provide that,” he said.
  • Naturalist’s Saunter in Fort Bowie–a tour led by Vincent Pinto as he journeys into the incomparable beauty and diversity of Fort Bowie National Historic Site.
  • Texas Canyon and the Chiricahua Mountains: a geologic comparison–where you’ll observe similarities and differences between the rocks and discuss basic geologic concepts related to their origin and decay

The entire weekend has a terrific diversity of opportunities to commune with nature and experience birding and wildlife. And, you can learn about the local history. There’s also a beginning birding class offered in Spanish!

To find out more, visit the Wings Over Willcox website (complete with a soundtrack of sandhill cranes) and register. You can stay in Willcox or at the surrounding areas.

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Holidays 2009: Fun in Cochise County

So, the holidays are coming up. I’m already planning my Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll make apple pies for my fiance and his family this year. This will be their first taste of those pies. I hope they like them!

It reminds me of the first Thanksgiving weekend he and I took in Cochise County. We had dinner at Winchester’s in the Copper Queen Hotel. On Friday, we hiked off all those calories in Chiricahua National Monument on the Echo Canyon Loop trail. And then on Saturday we toured some wonderful homes on the Bisbee Historic Home Tour.

These annual events are lots of fun. If you’re heading to southern Arizona this holiday season, check out some of the events in Cochise County:

Nov. 25, Annual Douglas Christmas Light Parade

Annual Christmas Light Parade though historic downtown Douglas.  The light parade kicks off the holiday season with lighted floats, marching bands and a visit from Santa Claus.

When: 7 p.m.

Where: downtown Douglas

Admission: Free

Info:  Douglas Visitor Center, 520-417-7340

Nov. 27, Festival of Lights, Bisbee

The holiday season officially begins with a merry lighting ceremony and celebration in front of the Copper Queen Library. Santa will arrive in downtown Old Bisbee on a flashy fire truck with goodies for all children.

When: 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 28

Info: 520-432-6016

Nov. 27 & 28, Historic Home Tour, Bisbee

Turn-of-the-century splendor comes to life when Bisbee residents open their doors. Visitors will get a glimpse into the town’s architectural history. Docents answer questions about the distinctive structures.

Info: Bisbee Visitor Center, 520-432-3554 or 1-866-2BISBEE

Nov. 28, Art Chairs of Bisbee Silent Auction

Bid on local artist’s decorated chairs done in a variety of mediums at the 6th Annual Art Chairs of Bisbee Silent Auction. Sponsored by the Bisbee Woman’s Club, proceeds go to a local charity.

Info: Bisbee Visitor Center, 520-432-3554 or 1-866-2BISBEE

Dec. 4 & 5, Christmas Apple Festival & Christmas Lighted Parade, Willcox

Events include a bazaar with handcrafted arts and crafts vendor, raffles and fun with drawings for door prizes, apple cooking contest and entertainment. The parade will be held at dusk (about 6 p.m.) on Dec. 5. Bring a friend and enjoy two fun-filled days of surprises and holiday shopping.

When: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5

Where: Willcox Community Center

Admission: Free

Info: Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, 520-384-2272

Dec. 5, 51st Annual Holiday Parade, Sierra Vista

This is Arizona’s longest running holiday parade and is a family event with Santa Claus, floats, marchers and bands.

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Dec. 5

Info:  520-458-6940; www.sierravistachamber.org

Dec. 6, Holiday Tour of Historic Homes, Sierra Vista

Visit the turn-of-the-century homes, still occupied by officers, on the National Historic Landmark District of Fort Huachuca. These homes are beautifully decorated for the holiday season.

When:  1-4 p.m.

Where: Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Admission:  Tickets $10 in advance, $12 day of the tour

Info:  520-417-6960

Note: Fort Huachuca is an active military installation. Stringent entrance requirements are enforced. U.S. citizens may enter with a visitor pass. Required documentation includes: vehicle registration and insurance, current, valid photo identification for driver and all passengers over age 13. Regulations may change without notice.

Dec. 12, Christmas on Main Street, Benson

Street vendors, local entertainment and the Saint David High School Choir make downtown Benson a holiday delight. This down home holiday celebration culminates with a visit from Santa and a tree lighting ceremony. Presented by the Benson Chamber of Commerce.

When:  10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission: Free

Info:  520-586-2842 or www.bensonchamberaz.com

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Holiday travel? Tell me about it!

Usually on this blog, I tell you about things to do in Cochise County. Today, I’m turning the tables. Where are you going for the holidays and what are you looking for when you get there?

Are you traveling to visit family and wondering what to do for fun after the turkey is gone? Or are you traveling to get away for some alone time.

What kinds of experiences are you looking for? Outdoor adventures? Exploring history, heritage and culture? Shopping? Seeking some new restaurants?

Leave a comment below and let me know! Over the next few weeks, I’ll respond by givin you some ideas to help you plan your vacation in southern Arizona if you’re heading this way.


Filed under Travel

Beer, wine, cowboy heritage, the county fair and art in the park!

Sept. 19, Bisbee Blues Festival

Sponsored by Old Bisbee Music, the Fourth Annual Bisbee Blues Festival will feature live blues from a variety of bands. Food and beverages will be available. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Details: 11a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19. For more info, visit www.bisbeebluesfest.com, or call the Bisbee Chamber of Commerce at 520-432-5421.

Sept. 19, 5th Annual Sierra Vista Fiddle Contest

Bring a lawn chair and enjoy the sounds of good old-fashioned fiddle music at the 5th Annual Sierra Vista Fiddle Contest. The event even features a solar powered sound system. Watch fiddlers compete for more than $3,000 in cash prizes. It will feature the “Pot O’ Gold Playoff” Celtic music competition. The contest is organized by and benefits the non-profit Cochise County Youth Orchestra.

Details: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19 at Veterans Memorial Park, 3105 E. Fry Blvd. in Sierra Vista. Admission is free. Visit www.ccyo.info and click on “fiddle contest” for more information.

Sept. 25, 21st Annual Elks Oktoberfest

Authentic German food and music, games for kids, dancing. Wine and beer are available.

Details: 4-10 p.m., Sept. 25 at the Elks Lodge, #1 Elks Lane, Sierra Vista. Admission is free. For more information, call 520-458-2065.

September 24-27, Cochise County Fair, Douglas

Enjoy carnival rides, 4-H demonstrations, livestock auctions, collegiate rodeo, bull riding, food concessions, retail booths, animal exhibits, arts and crafts, and live entertainment.

Details: 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday at the Cochise County Fairgrounds, Leslie Canyon Road in Douglas. Admission is $6 got adults; $3 for seniors (age 60+) & children (age 6-17); Free for children (age 0-5). For more info: Cochise County Fair Association, 520-364-3819 or www.cochisefair.org.


Oct. 1-4 Rex Allen Days, Cowboy Hall of Fame Ceremony & Banquet

The Cowboy Hall of Fame is the kick-off for the Rex Allen Days celebration. Western fun, Willcox style, this event honors their hometown hero. Rex Allen gained fame as a singer, cowboy movie star and narrator for Walt Disney Productions. This year will celebrate 20 years of Rex Allen Days, and the First Annual Western Heritage Award will be presented. Activities for Rex Allen Days include a parade, rodeo, General Orlando B. Willcox International turtle race, cowboy dances, a country music concert and more.

Details: Full days of fun at the Willcox Community Center and in Willcox. Admission varies for each event. For more info, contact the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, 520-384-2272 or visit the Rex Allen Museum website. You can also see the full schedule of events.

Oct. 2 & 3, Bisbee Turquoise Hunt

The annual Turquoise Hunt will take place in what locals call “Number 7,” the Queen Mine’s dump. For two hours each day, rock hounds can scour the earth for the rarest and, some would say, most valuable “Bisbee Turquoise” along with other minerals.

For more info, contact the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum at 520-432-7071.

Oct. 3 & 4, 38th Annual Art in the Park, Sierra Vista

This is one of the Southwest’s largest outdoor arts and crafts fairs, attracting more than 200 vendors.  Fine art, sculpture, fountains, jewelry, clothing and much more!

Details: Oct. 3 & 4; Sat. 9 am – 6 pm, Sun. 9 am – 4 pm. at Veterans Memorial Park, 3105 E. Fry Blvd. in Sierra Vista. Admission is free. Call 520-3378-1763 for more information or visit the website at www.huachuca-art.com.


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One more free weekend at the National Parks: Aug. 15 & 16, 2009

Last chance! The National Park Service is hosting one more free weekend this summer. You can go see any of America’s National Parks during this weekend without paying an admission charge.

If you can’t make it next weekend, the good news is that two of Cochise County‘s three national parks are free year-round!

Admission to Coronado National Memorial and Fort Bowie National Historic Site is free.  And Chiricahua National Monument is rock bottom at just $5 per person.

So think about southern Arizona if you’re looking for a travel getaway. As documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, put it, the National Parks are one of “America’s Best Ideas.”

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