Tombstone, Arizona – April 2023 – People of a Parade

The town of Tombstone is like many other small Arizona towns, except they have a dirt main street full of tourists shops, and a plethora of tourists coming to see ‘the old west’, at least the version that Hollywood made.

One of the highlights of the town is the worlds largest rose bush/tree. To celebrate this once a year they have their Rose Parade, which is nothing like Pasadena or even Portland. In true Tombstone most of it is the old west look, with a dose of patriotism.

There were multiple color guards.

The workers from the Bird Cage Theater checked out the scene.

Many of the Tombstone regular actors took part.

Dorothy and Friends were there! Not sure where they have been all these years.

A motorcycle preacher.

My personal favorite participant, whom I believe we saw in the Pet Parade in Tucson a few weeks ago.

These young ladies were part of the community church group.

The parade was sponsored by a women’s club in Tombstone, who specializes in dressing up like the late 1800, early 1900s.

Dorothy is looking for a ride out of town.

Apache Junction, Arizona – November 2022 – Goldfield Ghost Town

Arizona has a long history of mining, for copper, silver and gold. Many of those towns have long since been abandoned, leaving behind ghost towns.

About 30 minutes east of downtown Phoenix is Goldfield.

It too was once a mining town that became abandoned. In the 1980s a man named Bob Schoose bought the land where the town was and built a tourist attraction with faux old west buildings, faux old west people and a number of small business like the saloon and candy shop.

Given many tourists come to Phoenix and don’t want to wander far, but still want to see ‘the west’, Goldfield does a booming business.

You can buy yourself a cowboy hat and a latte, and hang out, then take your hat back to Kansas (or somewhere) and set your hat on a shelf never to be worn again. Anyone who has traveled much has done something like that.

They do have a narrow gauge railroad to take you around the town.

A number of old machines from the mining days are scattered about town.

Much like Tombstone, the town is full of actors. Some of them will, on an hourly basis, have a gunfight on main street. We missed that part, but did see someone carrying faux dynamite.

There are a number of actors who hang out for photos.

The town is set against the beautiful Superstition Mountains.

Ironically if you drive just another 10 miles you reach Canyon Lake, a reservoir in a fantastic setting.

Just beyond Canyon Lake is Tortilla Flats, complete with a restaurant and a couple of other shops. All the tourists must have a car to get to Goldfield – in my opinion they would be far better off driving a bit further to see the true Arizona west, not the romanticized ‘old west’, but to each their own.

Mescal, Arizona – May 2022 – Old West Movie Studio

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.

Tombstone, Arizona – December 2021 – A Dead Town on a Sunday Morning

The tourist bureau says Tombstone, Arizona is ‘authentic old west’, and the town is on the National Historic Registry. While the buildings are old, it is tough to claim it is authentic when there is an Italian Gelato stand and Harley Davidson dealership.

We were there about 8 AM on a Sunday morning, before the tourists arrived so the only people we saw were the actors getting ready for their day. Regardless it made for some interesting photos.

And with that it is time to get the stagecoach out of town…..