We visited the town of Two Guns which lies about 30 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Two Guns is now a ghost town, losing its steam years ago when the highway was opened, leaving Route 66, and its surroundings, to slowly die away. In it’s heyday, the main street was called “Hell Street”, and consisted of fourteen saloons, ten gambling houses, four brothels and two dance halls. We had read about its sketchy history epitomizing the wild west which should spice of the photography a bit.
We made the trek up from Scottsdale, arriving mid-afternoon. It was quite cool and windy, tumbleweeds abound, which added to its mystique.
At first blush the town looked or felt nothing like its reputation. But we plodded on looking for a good story to tell with our cameras. We then came across an elderly gentleman who was slowly walking around with a look of forlornness. We greeted each other with a nod, then asked him what brought him to Two Guns. There were no others around but the three of us. Little did we know we were going to be there awhile while he meticulously recounted his story of his grandfather and Two Guns from 80 years ago. He looked far away and began.
I didn’t know my grandfather well so most of what I know is through my father.
My grandfather was a dentist in Chicago back in 1932. He had saved his money for many years, finally saving enough to buy a brand new car, a 1932 Ford. The car rolled off the manufacturing line, a prefect match for him. Now that he had his car, and many people back then did not, he wanted to take a road trip. So, he picked up his close friend and headed out to Los Angeles along old Route 66.
What were they going to LA for? Well, to the Olympics! Now mind you, there was no other way to drive to LA from Chicago without traveling Route 66. On their way to LA they would pass right by this very place [Two Guns].
My grandfather had mentioned Two Guns before he left for LA. My dad remembers a gleam in his eye as his father recounted tales from years past. It was a real shoot-em-up kind of place, a real old-West town. Did you know the first sheriff lasted only six hours! That’s barely long enough to visit a saloon and a couple brothels. They even had a zoo with Bobcats, Panthers, and Mountain Lions.
By the time my grandfather and his friend visited Two Guns, most of the saloons and brothels were gone. Did my grandfather stop here for a drink and a poke – or just a night’s sleep? We never new much about his private side. I can only imagine what he was like.
They only stayed the one night and then left right for LA. And, now I’m standing here, right where he might have stood some 84 years ago.
What did he do here? I wonder.
His tale was told and off he went back to his RV. This story is certainly not exciting but it did paint a great picture for us. Standing on the remains of Two Guns I could see this man’s grandfather pull up in a shiny, new 1932 Ford, and walk into a saloon, and…
You never know who you will meet and where. We were lucky to meet this man and get a little taste of Two Guns from many years ago. It truly is a ghost town trying to keep its secrets hidden.
Remember, it’s all about the light, old-west style.
I’m glad to see you captured the story. I’ve been told many stories as I photograph Victorian architecture. It adds perspective!
Hi Shirley, would be interested in seeing some of your shots of Victorian architecture. Thanks for reading our blog. -jeff