Two favorite places we have been in Arizona are Old Tucson and Tombstone. Both of us grew up as kids watching westerns on TV, and went to matinees at the local movie house on Saturday. These movies were often Westerns. Back in the 50s/60s every boy wanted to be Roy Rogers, and every girl wanted to be Dale Evans.
We spent an entire day at Old Tucson frontier town while we were camped at the Gilbert Ray campground in Iron Mountain park, west of Tucson. It was only minutes away from the campground. Old Tucson was built in 1939, as a movie set for filming the movie “Arizona”. Since then, hundreds of western TV series, and western movies have been filmed there. The buildings and landscape changed and evolved as different series and movies were filmed. We took the train ride, and also did a walking tour with a very informative guide, and went to some of the shows and narratives. Old Tucson is celebrating 75 years in 2014, and is recovering from a devastating fire in 1995 that destroyed many old buildings and costumes.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about Old Tucson, and had been working there for many years. He talked about the history, many of the movies and series made there, and the fire that destroyed so much.
Several days later, we took a day trip to Tombstone, Arizona. We spent most of a day here, taking a trolley tour first, then going back downtown and walking the boardwalk to get a closer look at so many original buildings. The gentleman who sold the trolley tickets was 90 years old, Richard Chamberlain, who had starred in several movies at Old Tucson, and who helped out both at the ticket booth and also with some of the Wild West shows at Tombstone. He and the trolley tour guide were great sources of information about Tombstone; it’s history, legends, and ghost stories. We enjoyed the Western gunfights, touring the boardwalk, and many of the buildings. Of course, we had to peek into the Bird Cage, Big Nose Kates, the Crystal Palace, site of the OK corral (marked by a plaque), and other famous spots. We made our final stop at Boot Hill. By this time, we had learned quite a bit about the 1800s and early 1900s in what was known as the Wild West.