Route 66 - Twin Arrows & The Museum Club

After arriving in Flagstaff from Canyon Diablo, we found a nice Hampton Inn on Lockett Road to rest our weary heads for the night. All Hampton Inns are usually pretty decent, but this one was one of the best that we stayed in the whole trip. Friendly front desk staff, clean, safe, soft toilet paper and the A/C wasn't limited to not go below 72 degrees so we were able to get the room cool enough to have a good night's sleep. This one definitely receives our recommendation if you are in the area and in need of a place to stay at a reasonable price.

The famous twin arrows
After breakfast in the hotel lobby, we had to backtrack a few miles since we took I-40 after it got dark the night before. At exit 219, we stopped to see the famous, but now abandoned Twin Arrows Trading Post. The establishment was mostly famous for the huge twin "arrows" sticking up out of the ground. Actually, the arrows were simply 2 telephone poles buried in the ground at an angle, painted yellow, with wooden pieces  attached to resemble spear points and feathers.

Opened in the early 1940's, Twin Arrows served motorists with a gas station, a general store, a gift shop and a diner. The diner, a favorite with truck drivers, served American food which went by fanciful menu names such as fried pack-rat tail, buzzard eggs, roasted jack-rabbit ears, braised rattlesnake hips, sauteed centipede legs, and lizard tongue pie.

When I-40 bypassed Twin Arrows, an exit was built for the popular stop, but business plummeted anyway. The place was sold several times, but none of the owners could make a go of it financially. In 1998, the business closed for good. The land and the ruins now belong to the Arizona State Land Trust. After years of neglect, the twin arrows were showing the effects of the Arizona sun. A couple of years ago, a group of preservationists collected materials and donated their time to restore them to their former glory so they still stand as a proud reminder of what once was.

The store and diner in the background.
An interesting side note about Twin Arrows - did you see the 1994 movie, "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks? Twin Arrows was the setting for one of the important scenes in that movie. While Forrest Gump was running back and forth across the country, a t-shirt salesman ran up beside him asking for help with a design that would help sell his shirts. A truck drives by splashing mud into Forrest's face. The man offered a yellow t-shirt to him to wipe off the mud. Forrest presses the t-shirt to his face and hands it back to the salesman. The mud on the t-shirt makes the infamous "smiley face." You have to look pretty close, but as Forrest runs on, you will see the distinctive Twin Arrows in the background to the left of the screen.

Getting back on I-40, at exit 211 we jumped on Route 66 and drove through Winona.  In the Bobby Troup song, Route 66, he sings "Don't forget Winona." Well, Winona today is actually pretty easy to forget as there isn't much left of the old Route 66 except the nice looking Winona bridge and it is closed to traffic. Supposedly, the only reason Troup used "Winona" is because he needed a word that rhymed with Arizona. If you are pressed for time on your Route 66 road trip, you can bypass Winona by staying on I-40 since from Twin Arrows into Flagstaff, I-40 is the post 1947 Route 66.

Heading back now into Flagstaff, the land changes from arid scrub brush to 50 miles of forests. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, the heat in the summer is not as bad as it is on the plains and in the winter, snow is not uncommon. Flagstaff came very close to being the movie capital of the world instead of Hollywood. Years before Route 66 came through town, a young man with a screenplay in his pocket was riding the train west. He was set on filming in the real west with open skies and buttes and real cowboys and Indians instead of in New York where they had no idea what the west was really like. After reading books by Zane Grey, he was sure Flagstaff would be the perfect place for his epic movie to be filmed. When the train carrying Cecil B. DeMille pulled into the Flagstaff station though, a bitter cold wind was blowing, large white flakes were falling from the sky and the platform was covered in ice and slush. Mr. DeMille stayed on the train and kept going all the way to Los Angeles where he made the world's first feature-length film using fake cowboys he found on Sunset and Vine.

The Museum Club
The large neon guitar sign in front of the Museum Club.
While in Flagstaff, be sure to visit the Museum Club. In 1931, Dean Eldridge, who was the local taxidermist, built the largest log cabin in the southwest. He filled his home with trophy heads of many animals in the region. When he died in 1936, a saddle maker, Doc Williams, bought the cabin and turned it into a nightclub. He kept all the mounted heads on the walls to add atmosphere. It is now a country music dance club and was voted "Reader's Favorite Dance Club" by the readers of Country America magazine. For years, stories have persisted that the place is haunted by the ghost of the original builder, Dean Eldridge as he hated country music.

Speaking of ghosts, our next stop was the Hotel Monte Vista, located one block north of Route 66 in the historic downtown section of Flagstaff. This hotel has a very interesting history and is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America - a hotel with a number of guests who refuse to leave. I'll tell you all about it in the next entry.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 - Canyon Diablo (Part 2)

Ruins in the Canyon Diablo area.
With the demise of the town of Canyon Diablo, robberies and murder were not nearly so prevalent, but lawlessness in the area didn't disappear.  The roads and trails were still dangerous and travelers had to be especially vigilant.

In 1888, a lone traveler on horseback came upon a horse-drawn wagon along the route a short distance after crossing Canyon Diablo over the bridge. The wagon's contents were broken open and scattered all around. The horses were gone along with the harness. The tongue of the wagon was propped straight up in the air by the neck yoke and hanging from the top of the wagon tongue was a middle-aged man. He was never identified and it was never known why somebody would go to all the trouble to hang him like that. He was buried in an unmarked grave a few feet off the trail.

Several times, trains at the Canyon Diablo station were robbed. On March 21, 1889, four local cowboys pulled off one of the greatest train holdups the west ever saw. By the time they made their getaway, most sources agree they rode away with $100,000 in currency, $40,000 in gold coins, 2,500 silver dollar coins, and considerable jewelry. They headed south along the canyon rim for several miles before circling their horses around trying to throw off the posse they knew would be coming after them. They then split up with two going south and the other two going west.

A posse did indeed come after them the next day. Unfortunately for the robbers, it was led by William O. "Bucky" O'Neil, an expert tracker and lawman who would later be killed on San Juan Hill in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. It took a while, but Bucky and his posse followed two of the robbers into Utah and then back into Arizona until finally capturing them and bringing them in. The other two bandits were also eventually captured, one as far away as Texas, and brought back to the jail in Prescott. All were sentenced to 25 years in prison. The interesting thing was that only $100 of the stolen loot was found on the robbers. Questioned separately, they each confessed to hiding all the coins and jewelry and most of the currency not far from where they robbed the train. There was so much stolen booty that the weight of it all slowed down their horses and would have prevented their getaway.

Could there be 4 fabulously rich treasures still
buried near here?
According to their stories, the stolen goods were quickly divided into 4 roughly equal piles and each man buried his pile among a grove of trees on the rim of Canyon Diablo not far from the old town. Unfortunately, by the time the prisoners told their stories and lawmen went to retrieve the stolen property, every tree within several miles of the designated spot had been cut down by lumbermen. It was impossible to determine exactly where to dig and after a few weeks of looking, the search was discontinued. Over the years, many treasure hunters have searched for the 4 buried treasures, but to this day, nobody has reported finding anything so all of that money and jewelry must be assumed to be there still.

In 1905, two cowboys, John Shaw and William Evans, entered the WigWam Saloon in Winslow. They each ordered a shot of whiskey and placed payment on the bar, but before they downed the liquor, their attention was drawn to a gambling table which held a stack of almost 500 silver dollars. After a short, whispered conversation, they approached the table and pulled their guns. They filled their pockets with the coins and when they couldn't fit any more into pockets, they pulled off their hats and filled them with the rest before running out of the saloon.

Cowboys holding up the corpse
of Shaw
The county sheriff and his deputy went after them and were soon tipped off that the robbers had jumped on a train headed west. They boarded the next train themselves and upon arriving at the station in Canyon Diablo, learned the men they were chasing had gotten off their train and had been seen still in the area. While walking around the remnants of the town, in a stroke of good fortune, the criminals John Shaw and William Evans came walking around the side of an old warehouse building and came face to face with the lawmen. A gunfight immediately erupted with 21 shots fired. One of the robbers, Evans, was wounded and captured, the sheriff's shirt had two  bullet holes in it, and the second robber, Shaw, was shot in the head and killed. The lawmen had Shaw quickly buried and brought their wounded prisoner back to the Winslow hospital.

Getting ready to give  the body
of John Shaw his last drink
Two evenings later, a bunch of drunk cowboys in the WigWam Saloon heard about the shootout and were discussing it when one of them said, "You know, those two boys bought themselves a drink and didn't get to drink 'em. That ain't right. You think they gave old Shaw a shot of whiskey before they buried him? He's owed one." Before long, in their drunken condition, about 20 men decided they would ride to Canyon Diablo and give John Shaw the drink that was owed him. Carrying plenty of bottles of whiskey with them to keep the party going while they rode a freight train to Canyon Diablo, they arrived at the cemetery just before the sun rose and dug up Shaw's body, rigid in rigor mortis. Holding it upright beside the grave, they put a hat on his head, held a bottle of rotgut whiskey to his cold lips and poured down a good-sized gulp. He was then reburied with the half-empty bottle of whiskey. It happened that a photographer with his equipment had come along just for fun and with the sun now up over the horizon, there was enough light so before the cowboys reburied Shaw, he took 6 photos to commemorate the occasion. After printing, the 6 photos were displayed in the WigWam saloon until the 1940's when the building was torn down.

Sometime around the 1880's, an individual prospector who went by the name of Cannon was seen roaming the area. The Indians knew of him, but never bothered him as they considered him "touched" or crazy in the head. He lived by himself in the caves found along Canyon Diablo. By the early 1900's, he was often seen trudging through the area leading a donkey which carried a few camp supplies and a large, leather saddlebag. He made 3 trips each year into Winslow for supplies and each time he paid for the supplies from a large wad of cash. Cowboys looking for lost cattle in the wide-open plains would sometimes see and follow him trying to find out what he was doing and where he might stash his money. It was determined he was looking for meteorites that came from the giant crater just east of the area. Many of these meteorites contained very small diamonds. To get the diamonds required breaking the stones into small pieces, down even into dust, so it was not commercially profitable, but it could be to a lone prospector with nothing else to do and plenty of time and patience.

Eventually it was discovered that several times each year, he carried a leather bag full of tiny diamonds to a number of small railroad towns many miles away where he would sell just enough of them to get the amount of cash he needed. The rest he would put back into the bag and carry it back with him. On a number of occasions, bandits tried to follow to relieve him of his diamonds and cash, but he always managed to elude them and disappear.

Back in the Canyon Diablo area, on at least two occasions, men found and jumped him only to find he carried no cash and no diamonds while he wandered around the canyon and plains looking for meteorites. He had to have several caches of money and diamonds secreted in the caves where he lived. This went on for over 30 years so people figured his hidden treasure had to be worth a great amount.

The last time he came to Winslow was in 1917 and that was the last time anyone saw him alive. In 1928, the skeleton of a man who would have been about 80 years old was found in a pit just east of Winslow. With 2 bullet holes in the skull, it was obvious the man had not died of natural causes. No money or diamonds were found with the skeleton, but a wallet was found in the rotting trousers containing a picture of the old prospector when he was younger. A scrap of paper with the name Cannon was also in the wallet. Matching clothes he was last seen wearing in Winslow and a knife known to belong to Cannon in the shirt pocket convinced the authorities of his identification. The coroner said he had been dead at least 10 years.

A few weeks after discovery of the skeleton, a man seriously wounded by a shotgun crawled into a line camp of the Pitchfork Ranch west of Winslow. The man had with him a leather pouch filled with diamonds. Before he died, he told the two cowboys who found him that he and his partner had found a cache of Cannon's diamonds in one of the caves he was thought to have lived in. While dividing them up, he and his partner had gotten into an argument and managed to shoot each other. He said his partner was dead and he had only managed to crawl out of the cave with his half of the diamonds.

The cowboys patched him up as good as they could and began the journey to the Winslow hospital. On the way, the man tried to describe the cave's location, but he passed out before pinpointing it. He died without regaining consciousness so he never was able to give an exact location. He also never told them his name and with no identification on him, was buried the next day as a John Doe. The cowboys took the diamonds to a jeweler who pronounced them of very good industrial grade quality and paid cash for them on the spot. The cowboys took the time to tell the local sheriff the story, conveniently leaving out their "recovery" and sale of the diamonds, then took the next train to California and were never seen in Arizona again.

Caches of diamonds could very well still be
out there, somewhere.
The sheriff and his deputies made several searches over the next 3 months trying to find the reported body and the other half of the diamonds, but with just a general idea of the location, they never found either. Word of the lost diamonds got out and numerous people spent a lot of time searching Canyon Diablo above, around, and below the eventual site of Two Guns, but no body and no diamonds were ever found. As far as is known, none of Cannon's other suspected caches of diamonds and money were ever found either.

While we were at Two Guns on our Route 66 adventure in the early summer of 2012, we walked around on the rim of Canyon Diablo and I kept a sharp eye out for the tell-tale glint of silver or a sparkle in the setting sun from a diamond or piece of jewelry. I didn't venture down into the canyon itself and I never saw a sparkle or glint of anything. We drove across the bridge and down the rough road a ways, stopping to take a few pictures, but by then the sun was fast becoming just a memory and I didn't really feel comfortable being out there like that, just the two of us in the dark. I'm sure it was just my over-active imagination, but a small little voice inside my head was reminding me there are plenty of things in the world we don't understand and maybe, perhaps, the tortured, agonized souls of Apache warriors and the restless spirits of murdered men just might fall into that category. It was a very rational and well-thought-out decision to head on back to civilization before the night became so black it would be hard to see the dirt road and dangerous to drive back across that lonely bridge spanning that eerie canyon. It was a very rational decision that had nothing at all to do with being scared of things that come out after dark.

The sun going down behind ruins along the
Canyon Diablo rim.
I felt a lot easier after we were back on I-40 headed west to Flagstaff. It was time to seek shelter for the night; our kind of shelter- with an air conditioner, a flat screen TV, hot and cold running water, a nice bed, Internet access and a hot breakfast in the morning. Whatever was going to happen in Canyon Diablo that night would just have to happen without us. Still, it sure would have been nice to find a stash of valuable coins or an old leather bag of diamonds. Maybe next time.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 - Canyon Diablo (Part 1)

Not far down from Two Guns lie the ruins of one of the most vicious, lawless towns the West has ever seen, Canyon Diablo. Not many people are familiar with it today, but none of the more famous rough and tumble cow towns like Abilene or Tombstone even came close to this town of evil.

Newer bridge over Canyon Diablo constructed
in the 1930's.
The railroad came through this area in 1881 and laid lines as far as the rim of Canyon Diablo when it encountered financial problems. While the work crews waited for the railroad to get their financial house in order and for construction of the bridge across the canyon to begin, they camped along the canyon. Before long, a loose sort of settlement had begun. Since it was on the trail taken by freight and passenger wagon trains between Flagstaff, Prescott, and other towns in the area, business began to boom. Before long, saloons and bawdy houses began to spring up which attracted even more of the criminal element and men with little moral guidance. Eventually, there were over 2,000 residents (mostly killers and wanted men) in a 1-mile long, 1 road "town" with no lawmen to keep the peace. The lone road ran down the middle of town and was named Hell Street. Along this street were 14 saloons (with names like The Last Drink, Road to Ruin, and Name Your Pizen), 10 gambling houses, 4 houses of ill repute and 2 dance halls which were really just 2 more whore houses, but with better looking, higher-class ladies who sang songs between taking care of customers.

Two of the houses of prostitution were owned by women, rough and tough former fallen doves themselves, who didn't take nonsense from anyone. Situated directly across Hell Street from one another, Clabberfoot Annie and B.S. Mary (the B.S. did not stand for Betty Sue) would often stand in their respective doorways hollering insults at each other. After a few days, when one or the other could take no more, she would rush across the street only to invariably be met in the middle of the road by the other to begin fighting, throwing punches like men, pulling hair and ripping each other's cloths off much to the delight of the men standing around. One time, both ladies were wearing each other out and finally, when both were completely naked, Clabberfoot Annie, who actually was rather pretty and about 6 inches shorter than the 6 foot tall, big-boned B.S. Mary, ran back into her establishment and came back out with a shotgun. As B.S. turned and began to run away, Annie let her have it, filling Mary's broad, naked behind with bird-shot.

With no sheriff around, robberies, gunfights and murder was an everyday occurrence. A number of times, ownership of a saloon changed hands when the man who wanted it simply killed the current owner and proclaimed the property to then be his. Most wagon trains were robbed before reaching the settlement so goods were often in short supply. It wasn't uncommon for saloon owners to hire their own robbers to rob the first robbers so they could get their supply of whiskey.

Eventually, the wagon trains and law-abiding goods traders organized themselves and funded a good salary for a sheriff to put an end to all the lawlessness. Finding one good enough proved to be more difficult than expected. The first one put on the badge in a ceremony at 3:00 PM and was taken to Boot Hill for burial at 8:00 PM that same night. The second man to wear the badge lasted almost two weeks before he too was carried to Boot Hill. The third carried a double-barrel shot-gun filled with double-0 pellets. Along with killing a number of criminals, he was known to have injured numerous innocent bystanders when he began blasting away toward the general vicinity of the bad guy he was after. He lasted 3 weeks until someone tired of his method of removing bad guys and shot him in the back. The shooting kept on for several minutes with the killer stopping to reload his six-shooter a number of times. By the time he was finished, the sheriff lay completely riddled with 45 slugs in his back. The 4th lasted 6 days before he was felled by a shot to the face.

There were no more sheriffs for a number of weeks after that. Eventually, a skinny ex-preacher man from Texas rode into town. Within 24 hours, he was offered the sheriff position simply because he wore 2 pistols on his hips. The man had no money so he took the position in order to have a roof over his head and food to eat. When asked his name for the paperwork, he hesitated a long time and finally said, "Uh, just call me Bill Duckin."

One of the first things Bill did was order some decent clothes, including 2 long, black, bob-tail coats. From one of them, he cut out the pockets so he could reach in with both hands, grab his long-barreled revolvers and fire them from their swiveling holsters without having to draw them out. The other coat he left the pockets intact so he could wear it to church - just as soon as any church was built in Canyon Diablo. Bill lasted a full 30 days on the job, killing exactly 20 desperado's and wounding  so many that everyone lost count. On the morning of day 30, the day Bill was to collect his first full pay-check, he put on his good coat and was walking to an eating establishment for breakfast when right in front of him a bandit came backing out of The Colorado Saloon with a bag of stolen money in his left hand and a gun brandished in his right. Bill ordered him to halt and drop his gun as he put his hands in the pockets of his coat. Evidently, Bill had forgotten he was wearing his "church" coat with the pockets still intact and by the time he pulled his hands back out and was reaching for his guns, the robber fired, killing him with one shot to the head. Nobody ever figured out why Bill had worn his Sunday-go-to-meeting coat that day, but he was buried in it that afternoon.

The sun setting on ruins around Canyon Diablo
and Two Guns.
The next man to take on the role was "Fightin Joe" Fowler, the same gunfighter who had killed 20 men while bringing law and order to the formerly rough town of Gallup, New Mexico. Just 10 days after putting on the star and having already survived 6 gunfights and 3 bushwhack attempts against him by bandits, Fightin Joe high-tailed it back to New Mexico, leaving  in the middle of the night.

No man was brave enough or dumb enough to take on the role of sheriff in Canyon Diablo after that, but a few weeks later, the railroad received new financing, work on the bridge was completed, and the tracks and men moved on. Seemly overnight, the town of Canyon Diablo became a near ghost with little more than the train station still in business and a sheriff was needed no more.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 - Two Guns

Welcome to Two Guns
After leaving Meteor Crater and rejoining I-40 (along here, I-40 is either actually on top of Route 66 for a few miles or the old route is on private property) at exit 233, we zoomed a whole 3 miles to exit 230. After turning left and crossing over I-40, we made our way to the ghost of Two Guns. 

The area around Two Guns, known as the Coconino Plateau, consists of rolling ranges surrounded by distant mountains. According to pieces of pottery and other items which have been carbon dated, the area has seen human habitation since around 1050. The Indians originally farmed and hunted in this area in the warm months and later on used it mostly for grazing their sheep and horses. By the 1700's though, the Apache and Navajos who were sworn enemies, began also to use the canyons for staging surprise attacks on each other and for staging raids on each other's camps.

Large water tanks painted with murals as you
enter Two Guns.
In 1878, a large Apache raiding party led by Nachise, the son of Chief Cochise, attacked a Navajo camp, killing over 30 men, women, and children and stealing all of the camp goods. For years the Apache would escape the vengeful Navajo chasing them by making their way into the canyon which ran through the area. There were many branches extending from the main canyon which gave the Apache numerous places to hide out. However, the Navajo had eventually figured out a particular trail in a particular spot where the Apache had to go through every time. As soon as they learned of another raid, the Navajo would send one party chasing after the Apache while another force made straight for the narrow path where they could block escape. They did the same thing after this particular raid, but the Apache vanished without ever going through their usual path. While they were trying to figure out where the Apache had gone, the Navajo force received word that the same raiding party had attacked another nearby Navajo camp, killing more than 20, taking 3 young girls as captives, and once again making off with all of the camp's food, pots, robes and blankets.

The Navajo were extremely confused as not only had the Apache raiders vanished without a trace, they had also not taken the ponies from either of the camps they had attacked. Their leader sent out a number of scouts on fast horses in a desperate attempt to locate the enemy before they made their escape. Two men, B'ugoettin Begay and Bahe, were sent along the canyon rim toward a cave in the canyon walls directly across from what would years later become the town of Two Guns. Arriving at the place, they crawled on their bellies through the sagebrush and weeds intending to get a look over the rim into the canyon below. As they were slowly making their way forward, Bahe was surprised by a blast of air striking him in the face. After getting over his initial astonishment, he cautiously leaned forward again and heard Apache voices coming up from below. The enemy had been found hiding in the cave!

The two men hurriedly made their way back to their main group with the information. Riders were sent to the scouts who were still out and the excited Navajo quickly made their way to the hideout cave. Stopping a short distance away, they waited until full dark before closing in. Creeping forward, they managed to silently kill the two Apache guards posted outside. Making their way a few feet into the cave entrance, they found it was just wide and tall enough to allow access for a horse. The resourceful Apache had brought their horses into the cave with them and had not taken horses in their raids because they would have had to leave a herd on the canyon rim giving away their location. Backing out of the cave, the Navajo made their plan for vengeance.

Leaving a few men to guard the cave entrance, the rest of the group climbed to the plains above and gathered dry sagebrush and driftwood. Stacking the debris into the cave entrance, the Apache heard the noise and tried to make an escape, but the first few were easily cut down by the Navajo guards in the narrow passageway forcing the rest to retreat. Once the entrance was full of the wooden materials, it was set on fire. As the heavy smoke and flames were sucked deeper into the cave, it became impossible for anyone inside to escape a terrible death.

The Apache began singing their death songs, but the Navajo were not moved to give quarter. As the brush burned down, they threw more into the entrance. Eventually, the Apache death wails subsided and the brush was allowed to burn out. The Navajo were able to see that in their desperation, the Apache had used what little water they had along with the blood from cutting their ponies necks trying to put out the raging fire.  They had even cut up their horses and threw large pieces into the fire trying to stem it. 

At this point, a noise was heard and the Navajo were astonished to see a burned, but still alive Apache pushing aside several pieces of horse flesh. He stumbled through and speaking in halting, broken Navajo, he made it understood that he was begging for terms for his life as well as several others who were not yet dead. The Navajo leader told him to send out the 3 young captive girls and they would then talk terms. The Apache though, hesitated and began making excuses. It was clear the captives had already been raped and tortured to death for their captive's pleasure.

Where the Apache Death Cave, supposedly now collapsed,
is located. We did not go into the canyon looking for it.
Furious, the Navajo shot at the Apache emissary, forcing him to retreat back into the depths of the cave. They then stacked even more wooden debris into the cave and lit it. This time, they didn't let the fire go down. It must have been like the very pits of hell inside the cave. Soon, death songs could be heard from a couple of Apache warriors, but they quickly faded away. The fires were kept going all night long until the morning sun was above the canyon rim.

That afternoon, when the cave had finally cooled enough for the Navajo to enter, they found 44 Apache warriors in their final grotesque, twisted positions where death had found them desperately trying to get just one more breath of air. The loot taken during the raids was recovered and the Apache bodies were stripped of anything of value. It would be the last raid by Apaches against the Navajo in this area. The cave is still known as Apache Death Cave and is considered cursed by all of the Indians living in the area as well as most anybody else who visits this site. It is said the few people who years later lived in Two Guns  would often hear the tortured whinny of horses along with human screams and cries of unbearable pain coming from warrior spirits who roam the canyon on particularly dark, still nights.

The abandoned campground building.
In the early 1920's, a bridge was built across the canyon just a short way up from the Apache Death Cave. A couple of years later, a married couple by the name of Earle and Louise Cunduff built and operated a trading post, campground, and rental cottages near the bridge. Shortly, a strange man by the name of Henry Miller came along and joined Earle and Louise in their enterprise. Miller claimed to be an Apache chief named Crazy Thunder so everyone called him "Indian Miller." Miller and his wife built a stone building across the canyon from the Apache Death Cave. They called their building Fort Two Guns supposedly because Miller always wore two guns on his hips.

Abandoned now like everything else, this was the last
trading post building.
Miller turned his building into something resembling a zoo which housed lions, bobcats, snakes, porcupines and other animals. He built fake cliff dwellings along the canyon walls which he advertised to tourists as authentic and charged an admission to walk around in. He even raided the Apache Death Cave, removing bones and selling them to the tourists. Indian Miller obviously had no fear of the curse.

The Cundiff's began arguing with Miller over his shady practices and in 1925, leased their store to a couple of drifters who came through. Just a few weeks later, Earle stopped by the store and found the couple had left in the middle of the night and taken almost all of the store's merchandise with them. It took almost everything he had to restock.

In early 1926, Earle and Indian Miller had another argument and Miller shot and killed Earle. He claimed self-defense and the jury acquitted him. A few weeks later, Earle's widow erected a headstone on his grave with the epitaph of "Killed by Indian Miller." Miller took offense at this, got drunk one night and destroyed the headstone. Not able to claim self-defense against a headstone, he was convicted of defacing a grave and had to spend several months in jail.

The "zoo" is now in severe disrepair. It won't be long before
it crumbles back into the ground.
The curse finally caught up to him. Upon his return from jail, he was severely mauled by his lion, just barely surviving and taking weeks to recover. Soon after his recovery, a lynx escaped and mauled him, once again causing weeks of painful recovery. His daughter was coming to see him during this time and was killed in a car wreck. It proved to be too much for even a colorful character such as Indian Miller and he moved away, never to be heard from again.

Former cages in the zoo.
Louise Cundiff had remarried by this time and she and her new husband re-built Two Guns and once again opened Miller's old zoo. They hung on for years, barely making a living until 1950 when they sold out. Over the years, several more people tried to make a go of things, but they all went bust. The town and surrounding area was purchased by a wealthy man in the 1960's and he hired a caretaker to live there full-time in a trailer and guard the buildings. The poor man committed suicide one night. Then, in 1971, mysteriously, most of the buildings burned down. And it has stayed that way since then, a quiet, eerie, cursed place with few visitors and nobody wanting it.

Ruins along the Canyon Diablo rim not far from the
Apache Death Cave.
As we pulled into Two Guns, it was indeed a bit strange. Most of the time when you enter an abandoned place, all you feel is a sense of history. Occasionally though, you get a sense of evil or that something bad has happened there. In some cases, it's just a vague feeling of unease, like I had in Glenrio, not that big of a deal, but there was a definite bad feeling about this place down by the ruins along the canyon. Perhaps it was because we had arrived shortly before sundown and it was almost night when we left. Whatever it was, I would not go out there after dark.

Why the last caretaker of this place committed suicide is no mystery to me. He was out there all alone. He must have dreaded the setting sun. There are places in the world, perhaps like this place, where it's best to not intrude on the spirits and things that go bump in the dark of night.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 & Meteor Crater

The flat, open plains surrounding the meteor crater.
 After following Route 66 through Winslow and rejoining I-40 at exit 252, we took a side-trip to check out Meteor Crater. I had been there years before, but Youngest-daughter had never been. Taking exit 233 (Meteor Crater Rd.), we drove the 2-lane road 6 miles south to the crater itself. The first 5 miles or so is just lonely, flat plains with an occasional scrub brush somehow eeking out life, but then you notice what looks to be a large hill up ahead and all of a sudden you come to the end of the road and pull into a black-top parking lot at the bottom of a very large, abrupt rise in the ground. You have arrived at the best preserved meteor impact crater in the world.

Around 50,000 years ago, an iron-nickel meteor estimated to have been 150 feet across, weighing over 200,000 tons and traveling at 26,000 miles per hour slammed into the earth with a force greater than 20 million tons of dynamite. The impact generated extremely powerful shock waves which totally devastated everything for several miles around. As the meteor hit the ground, pressures rose to over 20 million pounds per square inch and rock, iron and dirt either vaporized or melted.

When the dirt settled, a round crater more than 700 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across was left in this previously flat plain. More than 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone had been thrown out in a blanket of debris for over a mile away from the crater. The pressure of the impact was so strong that small concentrations of graphite in the meteorite were transformed into diamonds.

After paying the entrance fee and before heading out to the crater, be sure to take in the film (10 minutes in length and shown every 1/2 hour) in the visitor center. I would also strongly suggest you sign up for one of the guided tours given by one of the Meteor Crater Enterprises "Rangers" as you get to walk out and see more of the crater and the guide will provide a number of interesting factoids and answer any of your questions.  (Contrary to what most people think, although the crater has been designated a Natural Landmark by the Department of the Interior, this is not a national park - it is privately owned and operated.)
One big hole in the ground!

Of course we stopped in the Rock Shop and gift shop after our very interesting tour. I picked up a beautiful set of hand-made earrings to surprise Mama-woman back home and Youngest-daughter and I picked out a couple of really cool t-shirts. Gotta be able to say, "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt!" After a sandwich from the on-site Subway, we were soon on our way back to catch Route 66 west and continue our trip.

This is a side trip well worth the time and few miles away from Route 66. Youngest-daughter still talks about being there and seeing it. You really must see it for yourself because words just can't convey how big the crater is, but trust me, this is one big hole in the ground!

Old cabin ruins from the early 1900's when the crater was
being researched to determine how it came to be and if it
would be a good source of iron. You will only get to see
this if you take a guided tour.

Youngest-daughter trying to show how big the crater is!
Me standing on the edge of the crater. This picture was taken
by our guide. A couple of steps back and it would have
been a long way down!

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 - Standing On A Corner

Sign designating the Standing On The Corner Park at
Second Street and Kinsley Avenue in Winslow, Arizona.
Just 12 miles past the Jackrabbit Trading Post is the town of Winslow, famous to most people strictly due to the song, Take It Easy sung by The Eagles and released in 1972. The famous second verse includes the phrase, "Well I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona; such a fine site to see; It's a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford slowing down to take a look at me." In response, the town erected a life-sized, bronze statue and mural commemorating the song at the Standing On The Corner Park.

Yep, that's me standing on THE corner!
Being of the right age to remember the song and for it to actually bring back good memories, even if it wasn't along Route 66, I would have made a special detour to stand on the corner and have my picture taken. I didn't expect Youngest-daughter to be as excited as me, but she seemed happy to be there, smiled a lot, and readily stood in the appropriate places for me to take pictures of her standing in the appropriate places. Later, she rather sheepishly said, "Dad, I'm sorry, but I don't know what was special about that." After a discussion of the song and the band and what I was doing in the summer of 1972 when the song was so popular, we found the song on iTunes and downloaded it to my iPod to play for her. I asked her if she didn't know about it, why did she seem happy and excited to be there? She replied, "Because you were."  And her mother wonders why this little girl has me totally wrapped around her finger!

At the corner
After getting your picture taken, there's lot's of souvenirs
and good shopping at Dominique's across the street.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

Route 66 - Wigwams, Geronimo & a Jackrabbit

Driving Route 66 on the way to Holbrook.
After 28 miles on US 180 from the south exit of the Petrified Forest National Park and rejoining Route 66, we came to the town of Holbrook and the 5,000 good folk who live there.

Established by 1882, the town was, at first, home mostly to cowboys, cattle ranchers and railroaders and had all the vices of a typical wild west town. Law and order was non-existent, gambling was the most popular game in town, "ladies of the night" were far more numerous than "proper women" and there were saloons along every street. The most popular saloon was named, "Bucket of Blood," which should give an idea of the type of town it was. It was said that most of the men there were wanted, or men that weren't wanted anywhere else. It was often referred to as "The town too tough for women and children" as no self-respecting family would settle there. In 1895, Holbrook became the county seat of Navajo County and until 1914 was known as "The town too tough for churches" because it was the only county seat in America without a church.

On the evening of July 19, 1912 at 7:15pm, a large, very bright fireball flew across the sky above Holbrook. Several loud explosions were heard which frightened people and animals alike as approximately 16,000 pea-sized stones fell from the heavens. It is one of the largest, most well-documented observed meteorite falls in the world and even today, the town receives many meteorite hunters looking for any remaining Holbrook meteorites.

By the time Route 66 came through town, Holbrook had mostly settle down. The days of the open range and rough and tumble cowboys were over. Service stations, motor courts, trading posts, stores and cafe's selling supplies and food to the travelers sprang up almost overnight and Holbrook became a major stop along the Mother Road. Remnants of these businesses can still be found through town.

Wigwam Motel complete with period cars.
One of the most interesting and probably most photographed of the old Route 66 attractions is the Wigwam Motel. Opened in 1950 and fully renovated in 1988, it is one of only two wigwam motels still open on the Route (the other is in San Bernardino, CA).  Its slogan, "Sleep in a Wigwam"  enticed many a kid to harass mom and dad into spending the night. The Wigwam Motel in California has a different slogan - "Do it in a Wigwam" and no doubt, entices a different clientele.

Wish we could have stayed here!

The Wigwam Motel turned out to be a disappointment for Youngest-daughter and I. Not because it didn't live up to our expectations or anything like that though. We had planned to spend the night there and it was something we both were looking forward to, but when we called the day before trying to make a reservation, the phone went unanswered and when we arrived, we found the place closed for renovation. Whatever renovation was going on, it appeared to be nearly finished as the place looked clean and ready for business.  We took a few pictures and went on down the road. If we ever get back there again, we'll try again to "sleep in a wigwam!"

Geronimo Trading Post
About 5 miles on down the road is another remnant of the Route 66 heydays which is still going strong - Geronimo Trading Post. I'll admit I'm a bit torn by these trading posts - some are in-your-face tourist traps with a lot of cheap crap labeled "Made in China," but some are pretty cool places with good quality items at very reasonable prices. I especially like the hand-made Indian items and have a hard time not purchasing many more than I need or would be healthy to my wallet. Geronimo has a lot of good stuff in spite of looking like one of the tourist trap places on the outside. It is particularly well stocked with Route 66 memorabilia. Youngest-daughter can spend hours in one of these places, but somehow I managed to scoot her out in less than 30 minutes and we escaped with only a sack of road food and a pretty little geode.

Outside of the Geronimo Trading Post

Just three miles further west and we came to Joseph City, a town of 1,500 which was first settled by Mormons in 1876. A nice little town, but we went on through to stop 8 miles later at the famous Jackrabbit Trading Post off I-40 at exit 269.
Here it is!

In 1949, James Taylor purchased an asphalt-shingled shack that had been used previously as a snake farm. He didn't exactly endear himself to the neighbors when he simply opened the cages and turned loose all the snakes. He began fixing up the shack and then painted dancing Indian chiefs on one side, a large jack rabbit on the other side, and installed thirty 12-inch tall hopping rabbits around the roof line. He also installed a 3-foot high composition jackrabbit with yellow eyes just inside the door. Many a child in those days had their picture taken atop the yellow-eyed jackrabbit. In addition to selling food and cold drinks, the shelves were filled with petrified wood, pretty rocks, turquoise jewelry, Indian souvenirs, knick-knacks, and post cards.

Jackrabbit Trading Post
During that time though, there seemed to be a trading post every couple of miles so with all of the competition, James had to do something to make his stand out. He teamed up with his friend Wayne Troutner, the owner of the For Men Only clothing store in Winslow and they traveled along Route 66 all the way east to Springfield, Missouri leasing and plastering billboards along the whole route. Hopping jackrabbits paired up with a dancing cowgirl for over 1,000 miles enticing travelers to stop at the Jackrabbit and the Men's Only Clothing Store. After all those signs for mile after mile, it was almost impossible for travelers to not stop when they arrived at the huge yellow sign which simply said, "Here it is."

Petrified wood and hand-painted sign next to the entrance.

Obviously the effort paid off as the place is still in business. While we were there, we were the only customers. Hopefully, it doesn't take many for the owners to remain open as this is an icon of the old Route 66. And hopefully our purchase of a cool rock, a couple of other souvenir's, a couple of post cards and a couple of cold drinks helped some. We still had cokes from the Geronimo Trading Post, but we threw our new ones into the cooler in the back seat and set out for Winslow and a famous corner to stand on.

Old DeSoto being slowly consumed by the elements as it sits
along Route 66 near the Jackrabbit Trading Post.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: