Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona. Land of the metaphysical vortex and alternative healing regimens. Location where over 70 movies have been filmed. Luring visitors from all over the world, Sedona is a mix of the modern and the historical, glamour and kitsch, Native and New Age. Ringing the high desert city--the elevation is 4,500 feet--of approximately 10,000 people are the red rock sandstone hills, mountains and monoliths that make Sedona famous (see photos at right and above). Did Roy Huggins ever visit Sedona, Arizona? If he did, maybe that is why the name Red Rock (see photo at right) is frequently mentioned in ASJ (The McCreedy Bust, The Day They Hanged Kid Curry, The McCreedy Bust: Going, Going, Gone, and The McCreedy Feud).

Long before the Europeans arrived, the Sinagua culture flourished. Honanki is a ruin about an hour away from Sedona. Driving over a very bumpy dirt road in a jeep, one gets a very good idea of the remoteness of the area, once the town is left behind. A short trek through a forest of pinyon pine, live oak, creosote bushes and jimson weed—beware of rattlers!--brings visitors to the cliff dwelling, which was built as an extension out from the face of a cliff. Guides with the Pink Jeep tour company explain the history of the place and point out the petroglyphs on the walls, along with their meanings (see photo above; click on the photo to enlarge it and see the petroglyphs at the top right). Another Sinagua ruin, Palanki, is nearby. Both sites are administered by the U.S. Forest Service as they are located within the Coconino National Forest.

First settled by Anglos in the 1870s when the Homestead Act opened up the land to farmers, and later named for the wife of the town’s first postmaster, Sedona Schnebley, a statue of whom stands in front of the town library (see photo at right), the economy is now based on tourism rather than agricultural pursuits. But back in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranchers raised Texas short-horn cattle in the area. Fruit orchards were also established. No gold, silver, or copper strikes were ever discovered in Sedona, however, unlike in nearby Jerome.

Starting in 1923 with Call of the Canyon, Sedona was a unique and memorable location for making movies, TV shows, and commercials. Numerous Westerns were filmed in and around the city; an Old West town was built on the outskirts of Sedona but unfortunately no longer exists. Movie stars such as Randolph Scott (see photo at right), Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Clint Walker all made films in Sedona. Tributes to these and other actors and actresses who appeared in movies filmed around Sedona are located along the main street, Highway 89A, in one part of the town. Perhaps filming an entire season of a TV show in Sedona would have been too expensive and that is why the third season of ASJ went on location to Moab instead, another place where red rock landscape is prominent.

Whatever the source, the vibrations must have been in my favor when I visited Sedona! Shopping, of course, is big business in the town and it was there that I finally found a concho belt very similar to the one on Kid Curry’s second season hat. After years of searching, I was thrilled to find it. I may need to get another hat made since the cowboy hat I had custom-designed last year already has a concho hatband, albeit in a different style. I can certainly understand why Kid had two hats, though!


Related Links:

Article about Anglo homesteaders in Sedona 


U.S. Forest Service webpage about Honanki

Article about Honanki in Sedona Monthly 

List of movies filmed in Sedona

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tuzigoot, Arizona

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry drifted all over the West trying to find work and avoid the law. As they wandered through the Southwest, riding through the desert on horseback and sleeping under the stars when short of money, they very probably came upon ruins such as those now called Tuzigoot. Administered by the National Park Service as a national monument (see photo above), Tuzigoot was a pueblo inhabited by Native Americans of the Sinagua culture. It is located about 20 minutes from Jerome, on the outskirts of Cottonwood, Arizona.

The settlement began around 1000 A.D. and lasted until around 1400 A.D. Built at the top of a hill (see photo at right), there is a commanding view of the valley below from all sides. The people who lived at Tuzigoot, who probably numbered no more than 225 at its most populous, lived in structures built of adobe bricks, some of which were two stories high. All that is left of Tuzigoot now are the remains of the walls that show how the rooms were connected to each other (see photo at right) and one restored room with a roof on it. The people who lived at Tuzigoot were farmers and hunters who made excellent use of the fertile land surrounding them. To see the ruins, visitors walk on a trail that circles the hill. There are numerous markers all along the trail (see photo at right), which is only about one-third of a mile long, that describe how the Sinagua people at Tuzigoot lived and prospered.

The Visitor Center contains well-rounded exhibits about Tuzigoot (see photo below) and its relationship with other cultures that it interacted with--trade was very important. There is also a small gift shop. Outside, there are more markers that explain how the people of Tuzigoot made use of abundant plant life around them. There are more than fifty Sinaguan ruins in the area and if Heyes and Curry passed by them during their travels, they may have wondered what they were but by the nineteenth century, the settlements had been long abandoned. There are several theories about why the Sinaguans left this area and where they went but nothing definitive has been proved to date. 


Related Link:

National Park Service website for Tuzigoot

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jerome, Arizona

Jerome is a former ghost town supposedly now inhabited by numerous ghosts, along with about 350 corporeal humans who live there full-time. Situated in northern Arizona, about half an hour by car from Sedona, Jerome is a former mining town built just shy of a mile high at 5,246 feet on Cleopatra Hill (see photo above). Established in 1876, the town was named after Eugene Murray Jerome, a New Yorker who never visited but owned rights to mines in the area.

Nowadays, Jerome (see photo below) is known as an artists’ colony and a tourist destination, with lots of shops and galleries catering to tourists, but in the nineteenth century it was an important copper mining town. At the height of its economic success, more than 15,000 people lived there and it was the fourth largest town in the Arizona Territory. Businesses catering to the mines and miners sprang up and people of European, Hispanic, and Asian heritage lived there, in addition to the Native Americans who were the original inhabitants of the region. The Mine Museum showcases Jerome’s history from its beginnings to the present day and includes exhibits on the mines and the men who worked in them, the medical care available to the miners, the hierarchy of prostitutes in Jerome, and law and order in the town. One of the many interesting artifacts is a washing machine used by a Chinese laundry in Jerome (see photo above). The Mine Museum also contains a restored bar from a local saloon.

Travelers to Jerome might have stayed in the Connor Hotel (see photo below), which was built in 1898. Intended for such guests as businessmen or teachers, rather than miners, it cost one dollar to spend the night there and was considered expensive at the time. However, the hotel had indoor plumbing, with a bathroom on every floor. There was also a bell in each of the rooms that allowed guests to ring for service. If Heyes and Kid had enough money, they would undoubtedly have stayed at the Connor Hotel.

To support the miners and the mining companies a “mixed” train, that is, one that carried both ore from the mines and the miners themselves, ran between Jerome, Clarkdale--a nearby town at the bottom of Cleopatra Hill--and other towns in the Verde Valley. The train ran daily and in the nineteenth century cost a miner $2.06 for a roundtrip ticket from Clarkdale to Drake, 38 miles away, where the train connected to the Sante Fe Railroad. In the twenty-first century, what is now called the Verde Valley Railroad (see photo above at right) carries tourists on a four-hour narrated ride through the region, from the depot in Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back. Riding along the Verde River, which had water in it even at the height of an Arizona summer in late July; seeing prehistoric Indian cave dwellings high up on the sides of cliffs; passing by the remains of miners’ shacks and mine tailings, and old telegraph poles (see middle photo above at right); travelling over trestle bridges and through a tunnel in total darkness that was cut through a mountainside (see photo above at right), the trip makes the nineteenth century come alive.

Heyes and Kid made some unsuccessful attempts at mining (Smiler with a Gun, Six Strangers at Apache Springs, Night of the Red Dog) and conned people into believing they were miners or mine owners (A Fistful of Diamonds, The Great Shell Game). They would have felt right at home in Jerome! 


Related Links:

Website about Jerome  

Website for the Verde Canyon Railroad


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Wyoming Territorial Prison

“Maybe they’ll give us adjoining cells.” -- Kid Curry to Hannibal Heyes as they try to escape the thirteen men chasing them in The Posse That Wouldn’t Quit. Even if they did have adjacent cells at the Wyoming Territorial Prison (NOT the Wyoming State Prison as Kid called it in Night of the Red Dog, since it didn't become a state until 1890, which presumably is after the time period of the series), he and Heyes might not have seen much of each other because the cells had solid metal walls between them. Only the doors to the cells were made of slatted, metal bars (see photo above).

Beginning in 1873 and continuing for the next thirty years, the Wyoming Territorial Prison housed both male and female inmates. The Warden’s House (see photo at right and below), located a short distance from the prison building, nicely illustrates the contrast between the convicts and the men who were guarding them. At first, the guards lived in the house as well but when the prison was expanded in 1889, they moved to a room on the second floor inside the prison itself.

Appearing much smaller in reality, the brick prison, surrounded by a wooden stockade with watchtowers (see photo at right), had three tiers of cells in two cell blocks; there were twelve cells on each floor (see photo below). The cells in the North cell block were larger than those in the South cell block. The prison also contained an office for the warden, an intake room where prisoners were processed when they first arrived, an infirmary for a doctor who was on call whenever necessary, a general-purpose room that served as a library/chapel/dining room for special occasions/cigar-making room/lecture hall where people from town came to give talks to the prisoners, a laundry room, a kitchen, and a section on the second floor that housed female inmates. Based on records kept by the Wyoming Territorial Prison, twelve women and 1,000 men served sentences there.

When a man arrived at the Wyoming Territorial Prison to serve his sentence, perhaps in a prison wagon such as the one on the grounds of the park (see photo below), he was taken to the processing room (see second photo below, right) where his photograph was taken and he was issued a prison uniform, shoes, bedding, soap and a candle (see third photo below, right). If a prisoner was literate, he would get two candles per week so he could read books that were borrowed from the prison library. Tobacco and matches, and sometimes hard candy, were also distributed to the prisoners. Inmates were expected to keep their cells as well as themselves clean; they had to bathe once a week, except in winter when it was every other week. Each floor had its own bathing area and when the prison was expanded in 1889, running water was installed which, according to my tour guide, was more than many of the homes in the local community had. Prisoners had to change their underclothes every Sunday and do their own laundry (see fourth photo at right). Chamber pots from the cells were emptied every day. Female convicts were allowed to wear their own clothes but there were no female guards and their bathing area had no curtains or doors for privacy (see fifth photo at right). At any one time, there were no more than three female convicts in the Wyoming Territorial Prison.

The Wyoming Territorial Prison adhered to the Auburn System, a penal philosophy whereby inmates were expected to work hard and reflect upon their crimes by keeping silent for most of the time, although they were allowed to whisper when at work or at night, and could speak if granted permission by a guard. The inmates’ day began at 5:45am and ended at 6:00pm, when they were locked in their cells for the night. On Sunday, they were allowed to sleep until 6:30am and did not go to work. Religious services on Sunday were probably an hour long and were conducted by Dr. May Preston Slossen, the first woman to serve as a chaplain in a prison in America. Prisoners were allowed to exercise in front of their cells every day—they could move out into the corridor as far as the distance their door swung open, about four feet. Female prisoners spent most of their time in their cells. Guards, who did not receive any special training to perform their duties, kept watch from four cages built into the prison walls at both ends of the building (see photo above).

Inmates who were well-behaved and presented no problems could become trustees. They were the ones who worked in the kitchen (see photo below) preparing meals for the prisoners, who normally ate in their cells unless it was a special occasion and then they ate in the dining room on the second floor. Well-behaved inmates could also choose their own cell and apparently cells on the top floor were preferred. On the other hand, prisoners who disobeyed or broke the rules were punished. They could lose their privileges or be sent to Cell #7, the dark cell, for solitary confinement (see photo at right). This cell had a solid metal door and when closed, it was completely dark inside, hence the name. Prisoners often were chained inside or they could be chained to a metal protrusion at the top of the door outside the cell. Prisoners in the dark cell got bread and water two times a day for their meals. As there were no specific, clearly defined rules for the prisoners to follow, discipline was arbitrary and depended on the whim of the guards.

The Prison Industries Building was where male inmates spent their days working (see photo at right). Most of the space inside was taken up by the production of brooms but candles were made there, too, and woodworking was also done by some inmates. Prisoners used several different machines to attach wooden handles to the broomcorn, trim the ends of the broom to a uniform length, put cord around the brooms, and then affix labels to them (see photo of one of the machines at right). The finished brooms, in several different sizes, were sold throughout the United States. Nowadays, brooms that are made in the same way by volunteers can be purchased in the well-stocked gift shop.

An excellent self-guided tour, aided by a detailed brochure, is available and there are also park employees, dressed as prisoners in striped uniforms (see photo below), who readily guide visitors through the facility. The second floor has a section devoted to Butch Cassidy, the prison's most famous inmate. On weekends, Frontier Village, a restored Old West town, is open to visitors. Allow several hours to completely explore the prison and the other buildings on the grounds. Heyes and Kid did all they could to avoid ending up at the Wyoming Territorial Prison but everyone who is a fan of ASJ will thoroughly enjoy the time they spend there!

Website for the Wyoming Territorial Prison:

Brief history of the Wyoming Territorial Prison (top half of webpage):

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Virginia Dale Stage Station

Heyes and Kid didn’t have much luck traveling by stagecoach (Stagecoach Seven, The Root of it All, Shootout at Diablo Station). And they probably didn’t pass through the Virginia Dale Stage Station in northern Colorado (see photo at right) but if they had, they might have enjoyed a good meal and at least been able to sleep indoors instead of out on the trail. Or, they might have been attacked by Cheyenne Indians. Whatever the circumstances, it is quite likely Heyes and Kid would have known who Jack Slade was, since he was almost as notorious as they were. But Mark Twain, who met Slade, described him favorably so I wonder what Twain would have said about Kid and Heyes.

The Virginia Dale Stage Station was a way station for travelers on the Overland Trail. It was built in 1862 by Jack Slade, who was in charge of several stagecoach stations for the Overland Stage Company (see photo below; click on the image to enlarge and read the text). As a full-service station, passengers on the stagecoaches were able to disembark at Virginia Dale and stretch their legs while fresh horses were hitched to the vehicle. There used to be a barn on the grounds, with stalls for six animals, but that no longer exists; the horses probably ate hay, which could be cut from the plentiful grassland surrounding the station. Passengers could also buy a meal—probably made of whatever could be shot nearby—and spend the night if necessary. The building was constructed of yellow pine logs and still stands in its original location, just a few miles from the Wyoming border.

The furnishings inside the Virginia Dale station (see photo below) are not from the nineteenth century but, with imagination, it is possible to envision the joy that tired, hungry, and dirty passengers would have felt upon entering the building. With a low ceiling, the long, one-room structure would have been warm in the winter and with the windows and doors open in the summer, a cool breeze would circulate, as it did when I visited in late July. Standing in the doorway, gazing out at the hills in the distance, listening to the wind in the silence of the landscape and the sky a deep blue with only a wisp of cloud in it, I could almost picture a stagecoach driving up the road to the only building for miles around, carrying weary passengers who were more than ready to enjoy the comforts of the Virginia Dale Stage Station.

Owned by the Virginia Dale Community Club since 1964, it is possible to arrange a tour through this volunteer organization of the premises, which includes the Emil Hurzeler house next door. A small gift shop is located inside the stage stop; purchasing one of the books about Jack Slade or stagecoach travel in Colorado, or a T-shirt or other souvenir, is a very nice way to support this historical treasure.

Comprehensive meta website with lots of links about the Virginia Dale Stage Station and the Overland Trail:

Website about Jack Slade:

Website for the Virginia Dale Community Club:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cripple Creek, Colorado

Cripple Creek—a name no ASJ fanfic writer could make up—was Kid and Heyes’ kind of town! At an elevation of almost 9,500 feet, this central Colorado mining town near Pikes Peak was in its heyday at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth (see photo at right). Gold miners working claims in the surrounding hills enjoyed the pleasures of Cripple Creek’s saloons, brothels, and gaming establishments such as Big Jim's (see photo at right -- could this be where he and Clara ended up?). More genteel, respectable, people also lived in Cripple Creek and laws were enforced to keep the peace. Nowadays, tourism and casino gambling drive the local economy instead of mining but the town is filled with history and very picturesque--well worth a day's visit.

Kid and Heyes were very fortunate they didn’t spend any time in the local jail! However, Robert Curry, a member of the Wild Bunch whose alias was Bob Lee, was captured in Cripple Creek and was jailed here for a spell. Standing in its original location, with its original cells, what is now called the Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum of Cripple Creek was definitely not a pleasure palace. There are two floors; each floor had a row of four cells on either side of a central aisle (see photo above). Each cell was six feet by six feet—quite small, and with metal walls and ceilings, and cement floors, probably quite uncomfortable, especially in summer. As many as six prisoners were sometimes incarcerated in one cell. To fit that many inside, hammocks were strung from the walls (see photo above); those prisoners did not sleep on beds but when there were fewer inmates in a cell, they did have beds (see photo below). There was no furniture in the cells except a metal protrusion in one corner; perhaps this was a bench to sit on. At one end of the first floor, one cell did not have a metal slatted door but rather was solid metal. This was the dark cell for solitary confinement. There was a separate area for women and juveniles who broke the law. By county law, prisoners had outdoor exercise every day.

Now restored as a museum, The Old Homestead, built in 1892, is the euphemistic name for what was the most exclusive brothel in Cripple Creek; guided tours are available but no photos are allowed indoors. Just inside the entrance and to the right is the parlor, where men were entertained with conversation; behind that is the music room, where a pianist was paid to play popular tunes of the day. The furnishings were imported from various European countries as well as Japan.

Walking up a narrow, twisting stairway are two girls’ rooms, side by side, and down the equally narrow hallway was another girl’s room and the room of the madam, Pearl DeVere. According to the tour guide, four girls worked at The Old Homestead at any one time (see photo above). Men had to supply references, which were checked, if they wanted to avail themselves of the pleasures of the house. They paid between $50 - $100 for one trick and if they wanted to spend the night with one girl, it cost them $250. At the top of the stairs on the second floor was a small room where men could observe the girls, who were dressed provocatively, and then make their selection.

The tour guide also said that each month, the girls had to pay a head tax in the form of a fine, usually around $40 - $45; The Old Homestead has receipts on display. The girls were allowed to go to the main downtown area of Cripple Creek only from 8:00 – 11:00am on Monday mornings. Prostitution was illegal but tolerated, and there were all sorts of houses of ill repute catering to the men who lived and worked in and around Cripple Creek.

Trains were essential to the growth of the region and three lines operated between the various towns during the time of the gold rush. Nowadays, the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad (see photo at right) takes visitors on a 45-minute journey through the Echo and Anaconda Valleys to see where the miners worked. The trip is narrated and stops a few times at scenic spots. Big holes where individual miners dug for gold can be seen, along with dilapidated shacks and cabins, mine tailings, and way off in the distance, mechanical mining equipment (see photo at right). Hearing the train whistle blow; sitting in the open observation cars, passing through groves of aspen almost close enough to touch, I could almost imagine myself transported back to the days of the Old West.

Related Links:

Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum

The Old Homestead 

Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad