Monday, March 22, 2010

Willcox, AZ

I got stuff done in Apache Junction and headed south to Willcox, AZ. The WINs were gathering there for a week to explore the area, especially the Chiricahua Mountains.
But on the way I stopped at a roadside picnic area where there was a Tom Mix memorial. Don't know who he was? He was one of the last of the silent screen cowboys.

I had seen this sign everytime I traveled on I-10, just east of Benson, AZ. Suspecting it was just a tourist trap, I never stopped. But someone told me I really needed to stop to see "The Thing". Since there was a Dairy Queen and I hadn't had lunch yet, I figured, why not. Actually, I was surprised, I found it was very interesting and worth the $1 entry fee. I won't tell you what it was, except that it was 'several things'. You'll just have to stop and see for yourself.

The little town of Willcox still has its 1880s buildings on Railroad Ave. Yes, right across the street from the railroad tracks. The shops are different, instead of 7 saloons, there is only one, but The Commercial, a dry goods store, was opened in 1880 and is the oldest continuously operated dry good store in Arizona.

This is the original cash register. And it was still in use until 1979. The clerk gave us a great history of the store and the cash register. She even showed us how it still works.

Warren Earp, the youngest of the Earp brothers was killed in the exact spot (at least that is what the sign says). He was not in Tombstone with his brothers for the shootout at the OK Corral, but that did not stop him from getting gunned down anyway.

He is buried in a cemetary on the outskirts of town. It is within walking distance of where I am staying at the Elks Lodge. The story goes that Earp told John Boyett that he had been offered $100 to kill him. Boyett said he didn't want any trouble but if he had to fight Earp he would. Earp told Boyett to go get his gun. Well, Boyett left and went and got a gun. When he returned to the saloon he walked in and shot Earp. Although Boyett was arrested and it was discovered that Earp didn't even have a gun on him, only a knife, Boyett was eventually released and never charged with Earp's murder. So it goes in the old, wild west.

I have a list of "Offbeat Tourist Attractions" in my GPS. This is the A & W Root Beer Statue in Willcox. There is no longer an A & W, but the statue is still there.

The old railroad depot is now the town hall. At one time this was one of the largest cattle shipping points for range cattle from the 1880s through the 1930s.
The trains no longer stop here, they just blow through all hours of the night and day, tooting their horns all through town. There are still some ranches in the area, but it is now just a sleepy, dusty cowtown with lots of memories of its wilder days of Apache Indians, Army Cavalry, settlers, ranchers, and cowboys.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun, we're travelling to Willcox shortly, is there anywhere you'd recommend as a good place to stay? Thanks.

ladynomad said...

If you are an Elk, the Elks Lodge in town has an RV park with hookups.

AnnieK07 said...

thanks, but we're not Elks so we'll just see what we get with one of the others.