In 1937, the nation was in the depths of a devastating Depression. And Tombstone was almost a ghost town. On my Southern Arizona Guide website, you can check out some old photographs I discovered in the archives of the Library of Congress. And reflect on what happened to bring the Town Too Tough To Die back to life.
Archive for the ‘Local History’ Category
- Gleeson To Rattlesnake
- Old Tucson
- Mescal, AZ
- Battle of Picacho Peak
You can view them in the Galleries Section.
Tomorrow through this weekend is one of the biggest annual events in Southern Arizona, the Tucson International Mariachi Festival. This year, the four days of performances will be held at Casino Del Sol Resort.
For more information, including performances headliners, times, and ticket sales, click here.
Ticket prices start at $10. All proceeds benefit Children’s Services at La Frontera Arizona a behavioral health agency.
Casino Del Sol Resort
5655 West Valencia Road
Tucson, AZ 85757
Room Reservations (800) 344-9435
Four of us trekked all the way from Tucson to Picacho Peak State Park last Sunday to watch the re-enactment of the 1862 battle that took place there.
The Battle of Picacho Peak was fought between a Union cavalry patrol from California and a party of Confederate pickets from Tucson. It was the westernmost battle of the American Civil War.
Once the battle was decided, we adjourned to enjoy our picnic among the wildflowers. Life is good.
Ms. Karen, my father, Bill, and I took off Friday to visit Casa Grande National Monument Prehistoric Ruins. This place has been on Ms. Karen’s bucket list for as long as we’ve lived in Tucson. I wasn’t so enthusiastic because I had seen a few Google photos and it didn’t look all that interesting.
As usual, Ms. Karen was right. This prehistoric site is seriously interesting. Our federal tax dollars have paid for a very fine visitors center. The docent who led the tour was both knowledgeable and entertaining.
The Hohokam built this city in a most inhospitable place. They had to bring water to their desert agricultural fields from the Gila River via deep canals.
The purpose of the “Big House” is unknown, but clearly it had some astrological function involving the sun and moon. Archeologist speculate that the city was abandoned around 1300 A.D. because drought made the agriculture necessary to sustain such a large population impossible.
Friday, March 9th.
Ms. Karen has been trying to get me to take her to Casa Grande Ruins for, oh I don’t know, maybe for the past 8 or 9 years. So, Friday’s the day. As my 92-year-old father will be with us, we’re taking him with us. Not so much to see the ruins, although he will find them interesting. But more because I can take a picture of him standing beside the street sign in nearby Florence that has our family name on it. It’s the intersection of Main Street & Gressinger Street; downtown Florance.
Several years ago, I got a similar photo with two of our grandsons. How many of you have a street sign named after your family?
Sunday, March 11th.
The annual re-enactment of the Civil War Battle of Picacho Peak will take place this Saturday an Sunday at Picacho Peak State Park just off I-10 half way to Phoenix. I’ve wanted to go to this event for years, and will final do it Sunday. I will take my camcorder and see if I can get some actors to do an on-camera, in-costume, in character interview. Those are my favorite. For example, on my website, I have an in-costume, in character interview with a Spanish soldier at the Tucson Presidio in 1776. What fun!
For info on the times of various re-enactments, click here.
Last Saturday was First Saturday in Arivaca, a small village 25 miles west of I-19 at Amado. I was invited by local resident Paula Perino to check out their First Saturday festivities for my Southern Arizona Guide. Paula arranged for me to conduct several on-camera interviews with the local VIP’s and enjoy lunch at Arivaca’s new restaurant, Sweet Peas Cafe, before we headed on down the road to the ghost town of Ruby. There we were scheduled to do an on-camera interview with Howard Frederick, one of the partners who own Ruby.
The road from Amado to Arivaca winds through rolling, mesquite-covered hills. It’s obviously very popular with cyclists, motor and otherwise.
Just before we arrived in town, we came to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge where, by appointment, we met and interviewed Richard Conway, a local geologist and Mary Scott, a seasoned birdwatcher and wildlife photographer. Given the quantity and diversity of wildlife here, the BANWR is a worthy destination. Walking the trails in the Cienega and Refuge is a walk back in time before the Spanish, then Mexicans, then Anglos settled here.
Next, it was a less than a mile to town where lots of people were walking all over the place from one booth and activity to
another. We visited the Artist Co-Op, the Farmers’ Market, and La Gitana Cantina, according to Esquire Magazine, one of the 100 best bars in America.
Here we met Maggie Milinovitch, one of the Cantina’s owners. She also publishes (1) the local newspaper Connection; (2) a visitors guide to Arivaca and vicinity; and (3) a popular book on local wildflowers entitled Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Flowering Plants of Arivaca & Southern Arizona. This attractive book is a fountain of information with over 400 great color photos of 204 plant species.
Then it was back up the hill a short ways to check out the Gadsden Coffee Company and interview roastmaster, Bradley Knaub. The place was packed inside and out. Obviously, it’s an important stop-over for the many cyclists who were out enjoying a Chamber of Commerce winter day. The delightful aroma from the various coffee blends permeated the air.
By now, it was noon, time to feed my hungry film crew and entourage. Sweet Peas Cafe is not in the village, but off the main road a short distance just east of town. Driving west from Amado on Arivaca Road, Sweet Peas has a sign before you enter the village with an arrow pointing left. As a restaurant critic, I wasn’t expecting much. I figured Sweet Peas was going to be just another ‘Mom’s Diner’ in the country.
Right off we met owner Jenni Kelly Stern (aka Olive Oil), a friendly, hardworking gal. She showed me her plans for outdoor dining behind the restaurant and told me that she expected to have her beer and wine license soon. She’s also had a catering business in this area for many years, and her loyal catering customers have followed her to the restaurant. All that was interesting, but what about the food?
My father, Bill, had a very substantial turkey sandwich and declared it excellent. Ms. Karen and Parker each had a bowl of chili chowder – also excellent – although I did notice Ms. Karen adding a little salt. But then she adds salt to most dishes. Her blood pressure is so low that the habit is not a threat to her health.
Dr. Clare devoured a hamburger almost half her size, while her son, 10-year-old Daniel, managed to spread ketchup on everything he ate. He rated the ketchup “Very Good” until we explained that Federal food guidelines allow ketchup to contain up to 10% bugs. At that point, Daniel seemed to have some concerns.
Ever-aware that I am on a very strict diet to lose weight, I ordered a Quiche Lorraine with veggies freshly picked from their garden and hoped for the best. Calories aside, I was not disappointed. It was, in fact, the best quiche I have ever had. Not sure I will ever have quiche at Mimi’s again.
Sweet Peas is not fancy. But it’s a pleasant place with friendly, efficient service. And the food is very good, indeed!
Following lunch, it was off to find a ghost town. Ruby is about 13 miles further on past Arivaca, about half on pavement and the final half on a well-maintained dirt road denoted FSR-39. Take a paper map. Do not rely on Google Maps or GPS. My GPS told us, “You have arrived at your destination.” at least 5 miles before we arrived at our destination.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about our amazing discoveries at Ruby. Stay tuned. jg
I’m new in the website business. But I must say that my Southern Arizona Guide is doing well after only 2 months. One of the most interesting facets is the analytics. For example, about half of my visitors are locals looking for (1) the best restaurants; (2) great weekend getaways; and / or (3) what to do with visiting friends and relatives.
The other half are from cold country mostly looking for a great winter vacation. And of these, especially those in Europe, most are really interested in the Old West in general and Tombstone in particular.
You locals, who have been to Tombstone and taken Dr. Jay’s enlightening and entertaining walking tour, know fact from fiction. But our European visitors have a difficult time distinguishing between actual historical events and legends.
To help, I am working on a series for my ‘Local History’ section. Here is the second one on Wyatt Earp.
After what became the most famous gunfight in history, Wyatt Earp went on what became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride to avenge the ambush that crippled his older brother, Virgil, and the assassination of his younger brother, Morgan, by a gang of outlaws known as “The Cowboys”.
However, by the 1920’s, Wyatt Earp was an almost forgotten lawman of the Old West who had been trying unsuccessfully to sell his story to Hollywood movie producers for more than a decade. Near poverty, Mr. Earp was living in a Los Angeles hotel with his wife of 40-plus years, Josie Marcus, also known as Sadie.
His lack of notoriety began to change when Stuart Lake’s Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall was published in 1931, two years after Mr. Earp’s death.
Since then, there have been hundreds of books and thousands of magazine and Internet articles published about Mr. Earp and the gunfight that made Tombstone, AZ world famous.
In addition to the myriad books and magazine articles about Mr. Earp, movies and TV propelled his legend worldwide. Here is a list of some of the more noteworthy. Very few can hold a candle to High Noon starring Gary Cooper.
(List in chronological order and rated by IMDB)
- Frontier Marshall (1939) Rated 6.6 0ut of 10). Randolph Scott (Wyatt Earp; Cesar Romero (‘Doc’ Holliday). The usual morality play; good guys in white hats, etc.
- My Darling Clementine (1946) Rated: 7.8. Henry Fonda (Wyatt Earp); Victor Mature (‘Doc’ Holliday). Made tolerable by that wonderful character actor, Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton.
- Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp (TV series 1955-61) Rated 8.6 (Best of All) Hugh O’Brian (Wyatt Earp). Very popular at the time. 99.99% Legend.
- Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) Rated 7.2. Burt Landcaster (Wyatt Earp); Kirk Douglas (‘Doc’ Holliday). Big stars. Poor history. This telling of the gunfight is mostly fiction by writer Leon Uris (Topaz, Exodus). Popular with audiences, but panned by critics at the time.
- Hour of the Gun (1967) Rated 6.6. James Garner (Wyatt Earp); Jason Robards (‘Doc’ Holliday). Borders on silly.
- Sunset (1988) Rated 5.6. Bruce Willis (Tom Mix); James Garner (Wyatt Earp). Even sillier than Hour of the Gun.
- Tombstone (1993) Rated 7.8. Kurt Russell (Wyatt Earp); Val Kilmer (‘Doc’ Holliday); Sam Elliott (Virgil Earp). Of all the westerns that depict the actual gunfight, this one is the most historically accurate by far. It was made even better by the fine performance of Val Kilmer as ‘Doc’. I advise my guests to avoid the amateurish reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, save the $10 admission and rent this Tombstone video.
- Wyatt Earp (1994) Rated 6.5. Kevin Costner (Wyatt Earp); Dennis Quaid (‘Doc’ Holliday); Gene Hackman (Nickolas Earp). This movie has a long prelude to the gunfight, starting with Mr. Earps young manhood, continuing through his two years at Tombstone, and ending with the now famous ‘Earp Vendetta Ride’ (read my related article).
Rumor has it that Val Kilmer will play Wyatt Earp in the upcoming (2012) Wyatt Earp’s Revenge. I’m trying to imagine Kilmer as Wyatt since he played such a convincing ‘Doc’ in Tombstone with Kurt Russell.
When I started this list a few weeks ago, I wrote that I had in mind five little known attractions that I think are worthy of your time and attention. In most cases, these attractions are right under the noses of us locals. But we get real busy with work and family and fail to set aside a little time to enjoy them. And that’s if we know about them. Which most people don’t.
So far, I have shared videos about the first four. You can view them all at my Southern Arizona Guide website.
- Titan II Missile Museum
- The Mini-Time Machine: Tucson’s Museum of Miniatures
- Franklin Automobile Museum
- Colossal Cave Mountain Park: La Posta Quemada Ranch and Stables.
Today, I want to share two videos I created about two little known museum gems: Fort Lowell and the Downtown Tucson Museum. Both are treasures of the Arizona Historical Society. Let me know if I’ve missed your favorite Least Known Attraction.
Yesterday I added Colossal Cave Mountain Park to my short list of Least Known Best Southern Arizona Attractions and included the first of my 3 videos.
When most people think of Colossal Cave, they don’t think of La Posta Quemada Ranch in the valley below the cave. And it is here that there is much to do: hiking, picnicking, camping, museums, and horseback riding to mention a few activities.
When I started this series, I said I had in mind 5 Least Known Best Southern Arizona Attractions and Colossal Cave is #4. So we have one to go.
But if you have a choice for #5, please let me know and I can add it to the list.