Gunfighters and Gaffers at the Gulch of Gammonsby John Scott on Sep. 13, 2012, under Uncategorized
I received an email the other day about a western film completed here in Southern Arizona. I believe the title is Renegade, and it is out on DVD this month. Looking back over the last few years, I’ve noticed there are quite a few independent films, commercials and music videos being made out here. There’s even a couple of web series that are entirely produced in our neck of the woods. Places like Old Tucson Studios and Gammons Gulch paint the backdrops for many of these moving pictures.
I’ve heard of Old Tucson, but what’s a Gammons Gulch?
Why, it’s a western town/movie set created by Jay Gammons located not far from Benson. The Gammons’ family worked in the film industry during the heyday of westerns. His father was John Wayne’s bodyguard when filming down here, and Jay himself can be seen in movies like Rio Bravo and McClintock.
Like most kids during that era, he was a western nut. Dressing up to watch Wagon Train, then running outside to protect Dodge City from imaginary outlaws was the typical Saturday for children in the 1950’s and 60’s. What made Jay different is that he was actually on the set with his heroes.
About 39 years ago while working as an actor at Old Tucson Studios, Jay decided to fulfill his lifelong dream and build a town. He named it Gammons Gulch, and opened it to the public. Jay stocked it with antiques, including a bar from an historic saloon in Jerome. Walls and flooring are salvaged from some of Arizona Territory’s 1890’s structures. One entire building comes from Safford where it was a flourmill in 1882. Gammons Gulch is a complete western town. It sports a saloon, bank, jail, livery, blacksmith shop, mercantile, town hall, and antique cars.
Cool! Wait…antique cars?
Yeah, Jay is also a bit of an antique car aficionado. He’s got cars from the 1920’s and 30’s that he has restored. They, as well as all his collectibles, are part of what you experience on the guided tour. Tours run September through May. He’ll do them in the summer, but with the frequency of filming going on there, you should call for an appointment. Information can be found at http://www.gammonsgulch.com
Through collecting and donations, Jay has built not only a film locale, but also a museum. He calls himself a “Salvage Engineer”, which I think is fitting. Jay Gammons, through hard work and perseverance, created the 1880’s town he always wanted, and is revisiting Arizona’s Old West every day.