Whistle-Stop Willcox and Wayward Warrenby John Scott on Apr. 18, 2012, under Uncategorized
Maley, Arizona was founded in 1880. The original plan was a whistle-stop for the new Southern Pacific Railroad and it passed through a ranch owned by a fellow named James Mahley. It appears as though the town name was absent of the “h”.
Around 1889, a train came in with a bigwig general by the name of Orlando Wilcox. According to legend, the townspeople cheered his name, and poor James Mahley lost his namesake. So Wilcox grew. It became a major shipping location for local cattleman and farmers. In 1915 , incorporation came and they added an “l” to the name (maybe to make up for stealing James’ “h”).
Many of the buildings in Willcox are on the National Register of Historic Places, As far as I know, all of them are being utilized as businesses today. The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is now the city hall. The Women’s Club utilizes an 1880’s hotel named the Schwertner House. The Palace Saloon is still serving alcohol, but The Headquarters Saloon is a gift shop. You might find one of those machines that mash a penny into an oval with “Willcox” stamped into it here, but you won’t find whiskey. Also of note is the Willcox Commercial, which claims to be the oldest operating store in Arizona. It would appear Geronimo shopped for sweets here. I wonder if he got a stamped penny.
One of the highlights on Railroad Avenue is the Rex Allen Cowboy Museum, which features memorabilia of the famous singing cowboy who was raised there. Every year The Chamber of Commerce hosts Rex Allen Days, in tribute to the actor. This October there will be a rodeo, concerts, a parade, and turtle races. Watch out, Superior…your Chihuahuas should be sweating.
Warren Earp, younger brother to Wyatt, was driving stagecoaches between Willcox and Fort Grant, and is rumored to have worked for the Sierra Bonita Ranch. One day in 1900 he got into a fight with Johnnie Boyett over the affections of a woman at the Headquarters Saloon. It resulted in a shootout that left Warren the second Earp to perish in Cochise County. He is buried in Willcox Pioneer Cemetery.
Many of you will go down with the family to pick apples at Apple Annie’s Orchard. Once you’ve had your fill of those crisp, juicy delights, I urge you to visit the historic downtown of Willcox. Pay your condolences to Warren, sing along with Rex Allen, wave to a passing train, and immerse yourself in a little Old West history.