For many decades when Hollywood wanted to make a Western movie, they came to Arizona, with Tucson alone having over 1500 location credits on IMDB.
About 40 miles east of downtown Tucson is a small dusty town of Mescal. Just north of town, with a perfect backdrop of the Rincon Mountains, is the Mescal Movie Studio.
Originally built in 1968 for the movie Monte Walsh, it was one of the settings for a number of famous movies including Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, as well as many TV shows including Little House on the Prairie.
Over the years it had fallen into disrepair, until recently when a local family purchased it and began restoring it. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are open for tours, which include volunteer actors.
Our docent lead us on a very informative 1 hour tour. While not a fan of western movies in general, the tour, and the history of the place makes this a great stop – far better than the tacky touristy setting of the actual town of Tombstone.
One of the clock faces from the movie The Quick and the Dead – a key to the movie’s plot.
The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the largest non government sponsored airplane museums in the country. While much of their collection is military, with a mix of commercial, I (as usual) focused on the abstract views, rather than document the collection.
Part of the collection has been used as blank canvases for ‘The Boneyard Project’, where they used the old planes for their art.
A second visit to Tubac allowed time for a visit to the state historical park, which had a number of art pieces around the grounds. That, coupled with the general art vibe of the town gave enough interesting shots for a posting.
The Spanish Colonial Jesuits missionaries established numerous missions throughout the area that is now Arizona in the late 1600s. The Mission San Jose de Tumacacori was established in 1691, with the existing church’s construction being started in the 1750s.
The grounds are now owned by the National Park Service.
Tucumcari is one of those towns that lives off the Route 66 tourism. By appearances it seems the tourism business is suffering, as many of the small shops, motels and gas stations are closed down. Some still exist though, and hopefully the tourism returns.
From 1934 until 1943 the U.S. Department of Treasury funded a program that produced murals for Post Offices across the country, most as they were being built. This brief posting highlights the murals in the Safford, Arizona Post Office.
Safford is one of the larger towns in eastern Arizona, with a population today of about 10,000, although only 2,000 people lived there when the post office was built during this period.
The murals are titled ‘The History of The Gila River Valley’, completed by Seymour Fogel who was once an apprentice to Diego Rivera. It depicts the pioneers of the area, including the conquistadors and a Franciscan monk, farmers, cowboys and natives.
Fogel’s initial proposal had more intense detail of the plight of the Native American’s, but it was met with such resistance from the local townspeople that the design was modified to this more sterilized version.
It is only about 20 miles from Tombstone to Bisbee, but culturally it is a world away from the old west gun crowd. Bisbee is known as an artistic town, full of free spirits, having been named the ‘Best Hippie Town in Arizona’.
It was founded in the late 1800s as a mining town, and there is evidence of that everywhere, with the town situated in a steep valley with a 1 street commercial district, and houses scattered up and down the hills.
Many of the houses and commercial buildings have interesting architecture, but the crown jewel is the Art Deco Cochise County Courthouse.
When the mining eventually died out in the 1970s, the artistic crowd found the town perfect for them, with a fantastic climate, interesting architecture and affordability. Today the town thrives on as one of the destinations in Southern Arizona.