Fairbank, Arizona

I thought the only Fairbank was in Alaska. I was wrong. . .

Fairbank is located in the San Pedro Riparian Conservation area.

It sits by the San Pedro River, first called Junction City when it began as a simple stagecoach stop on the way to Tombstone.  Later it was called Kendall, and finally became known as Fairbank in May 1883.

When the railroad was completed in 1882, it quickly became an important railroad station. From Fairbank, trains brought supplies and cattle to Tombstone and took silver and other valuable ore from the Tombstone mines.

Plus, anyone needing long distance travel out of Tombstone usually went to Fairbank. Once built, it was the closest train depot. The route would be the stagecoach from Tombstone to Fairbank Arizona. Then catch the train there at Fairbank to Benson, where one could get to the train to Tucson. From there travelers could continue to many other cities. Fairbank was where it was at.

This is an adobe building which held a general store, post office, and a saloon.

In 1886 Fairbank had about 100 residents. Back then this little town had a steam quartz mill, a general store, a butcher shop, a restaurant, a saloon, a Wells Fargo office, the railroad depot, a stage coach station and a post office. By the 1900 Census Fairbank’s count neared 500 and as time went on a school was built.

The town has a cemetery, which we tried to get to but couldn’t. As you can see it was way to overgrown, which was to bad because after seeing pictures, it looks like a small Boothill Graveyard.

Old train tracks

Old railroad bridge.

Fairbank’s Train Depot.

A train robbery on February 21, 1900, took place in Fairbank, Yes a train robbery!

An express car of a Benson to Nogales train was held up by six gunmen when it arrived at the Fairbank railroad station. Two of the robbers, named Billy Stiles and Burt Alvord, had been deputy sheriffs but joined four outlaws. They blended in with the crowd acting like drunk cowboys in the station. Suddenly they attacked the baggage car.  A brave lawman, named Jeff D. Milton, “who was given the highest praise for his defense of his trust”, was inside the express car guarding the Wells Fargo box and its payroll. As he was hit by gunfire, he threw the key to the box away into a corner, so the gang couldn’t open it.  He fought the men with a shotgun even though his left arm was shattered by shots from lever-action Winchesters. Milton slammed the door shut, and collapsed unconscious between two large boxes. This saved his life when the outlaws riddled the car with bullets. The robbers opened the door of the baggage car and were unable to find the keys, so they mounted their horses and rode away.

One who was left behind, Jeff Dunlap, alias Three-fingered Jack, was a well-known horse thief. He died a day later of buckshot wounds to the chest from Milton’s shotgun. Before he died on February 22, 1900, he confessed who the gang members were, with Alvord named as the leader. He was buried in Tombstone. The robbers were eventually hunted down and imprisoned. One had fled to Mexico. The penalty for train robbery was hanging. Leniency was exercised for the attempted robbery, and all the outlaws ended up with lesser sentences. I wonder if the Fairbank train robbery was it was ever made into a movie?

Fairbank train robbery – painted by Carl Oeters
Boothill Graveyard, Tombstone.

Jeff Milton

Milton was sent for treatment to San Francisco, as medical care in Fairbank was very limited. When told his arm would have to be amputated, he reportedly went into a rage, vowing he would kill any doctor who amputated his arm! His arm wasn’t amputated, but was permanently disabled. Jeff D. Milton’s DC shows he died May 7, 1947, at age 85 and 6 months.

Fairbank began its decline when drought ruined farmers who traded there. The Tombstone mines closed in 1900 from flooding and with no gold or silver left, this forced the mills to shut down. And in 1901 when the Boquillas Land and Cattle Co. purchased the land the town was built on and exiled most of the residents, keeping just a few business going until the early 1970s. In 1970s any remaining residents left the town, when the buildings were declared unsafe. The former land grant was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management in 1986, and the town site and cemetery were incorporated into the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Fairbank was occupied from 1881 to 1973.

Fairbanks 1890

The hotel in Fairbank and the adobe building that housed the post office in 1960.

It was fun looking at the old buildings and walking around. A  great little spot that will remind you to remember the past and look ahead to the future.

Another Day in . . .

We’re back in Tombstone, it’s still kind of early so we’re walking the streets pretending we’re cowboys.

A lady who was staying here let us look at her room, very nice.

Nellie Cashman and her partner Joseph Pascholy co-owned and ran a restaurant and hotel in Tombstone called The Russ House. The Russ House offered meals to miners and homeless at little or no cost. Nellie served 50-cent meals, advertising that “there are no cockroaches in my kitchen and the flour is clean.” Nellie had rooms available for $8.00 per week. Nellie fed the hungry, needy and desperate never turning anyone away.

Just down the street a bit is the legendary Bird Cage Theatre

It opened on December 24, 1881, and gained a reputation as one of the wickedest theaters between New Orleans and San Francisco.

Its doors were open 24/7 and by 1889, it would be the site of 16 gunfights and 140 bullet holes in the building. 

Beside having a wide range of nightly nightly entertainment from Can-Can dancers to comedy shows it was also a casino, a dance hall, a poker hall and a brothel.

The theater also had women in the world’s oldest profession who sat in cribs up above the lobby and  above the stage, doing their thing.

It’s said that the longest playing poker game in U.S. history took place down here in the poker hall of the Bird Cage Theatre, lasting 8 years, 5 months and 3 days. Players had to buy a $1,000 minimum to play.   The game started when The Bird Cage Theatre opened and players would have to give notice before vacating their seats and there were always players waiting to step in to take their place.

Not much has changed at the Bird Cage Theatre since its heyday. Although it’s now a museum, just about everything in there is original, including the stage curtain, the ‘bird cages’ and many objects down in the poker room.

Are you ready for a Gunfight.

The original OK Corral

It was a fun show, they also acted out things that happened before the big gunfight.

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon first got its start as The Grand Hotel opening in September 9, 1880.

The Grand Hotel was declared as one of the finest hotels in the state, the hotel was luxuriously furnished, provided thick carpeting, and its walls were adorned with costly oil paintings. Providing 16 bedrooms, each with a “view,” they were fitted with solid walnut furnishings, toilet stands, fine fixtures, and wallpaper. The lobby was equipped with three elegant chandeliers and more luxurious furnishings, while the kitchen boasted hot and cold running water and facilities to serve some 500 people in the span of a couple of hours. The hotel opened with an invitation-only ball on September 9, 1880.

Today, the building is home to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. A number of changes have been made to the original structure since it burned and has been rebuilt but it still holds the Grand Hotel’s original long bar.

Big Nose Kate / Her real name was Mary Katharine Harony.

It seems as if everyone, men and women, had nicknames in the Old West.  But, we know her as Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday’s girlfriend. She didn’t have a big nose. It’s said she got that nickname because she had a habit of sticking her nose in other people’s business.

We had dinner here, it was really good, plus there is always live music playing just like back in the 1800s.

Just down the road from Tombstone is the Boothill Graveyard.

In the early years Tombstone’s Boot Hill Graveyard (1878-1884) was originally called the “City Cemetery”. After the city built the Tombstone Cemetery on the west end of Allen Street, the “City Cemetery” was then called the old cemetery. Sometime around 1929 and the towns first Helldorado Days, people started calling the “Old Cemetery” Boot Hill Graveyard.

Cowboys who “died with their boots on” lie next to housewives, business men and women, miners, gamblers, ladies of the “red-light district” and all the famous and not so famous occupants that are part of Boot Hill Graveyard. Here are only a few pictures of what we saw.

This poor guy, Tom Waters was shot because somebody didn’t like the color of his shirt. I wonder what color it was?                                                                                                

This graveyard has it’s own song performed by Johnny Cash, “The Ballad of Boot Hill.”

Unmarked graves

There was a section for all the Chinese and another area for the Jewish. It is believed some 300 persons in all were buried here. It was common for bodies to be found in various parts in and outside of town, with no one ever being able to identify them, so they were buried with no markings, or as “unknown.”

The population in Tombstone increased to approximately 7,500 by the mid-1880s. However, this figure only consisted of the white males over the age of 21 that were registered vote. The figure that consists of women, children and other ethnicities, the population was at least 15,000 and possibly as much as 20,000. Tombstone was considered as the fastest populating city between San Francisco and St. Louis. Tombstone was home to more than 100 saloons, a multitude of eateries, a huge red-light district, a large population of Chinese, newspapers, churches and schools.

Tombstone is definitely a step back into the history of the Wild West. There’s lots to see here in this little town from a graveyard to stage coaches and even a gunfight reenactment.  So Howdy Partner, let’s take a look . . .

Tombstone is a historic city in Cochise County, Arizona, founded by prospector Ed Schieffelin  in 1877.  It became one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier and is still going on today by tourists like us.

Our First stop was The Visitor Center. The first business in Tombstone was opened in building  by J.B. Allen. In 1879 it was once a store and a bank, then several other businesses. Now the Chamber of Commerce and the Tombstone Visitor’s Center.

This is the original Cochise County/Tombstone Courthouse, which is now a state historic park. It was built in 1882 in the shape of a Greek cross. It is a two-story structure that once housed the offices of the Sheriff, Recorder, Treasurer, Board of Supervisors, Jail, and Courtrooms of Cochise County. Today this 12,000 sq.Ft. Courthouse is a museum that includes the following. . .

This building sure had it’s share of safes. Dave standing by a window to show how big they are.

Notice that on 1884, whomever attended a Washington’s Birthday social and then went to a “hanging” and on the same night a dance. “Hey everyone let’s go watch somebody hanging around.” Scary but true.

This bar was taken from Hafford’s Corner Saloon. This is the saloon where the Earps met to have a drink and make their plans prior to their famous confrontation and gunfight with the Clantons and McLaurys. The bottle of Rye Whiskey was at the bar at the time of the confrontation.

The World’s Largest Rose Bush is a white Lady Banksia that was planted in Tombstone in 1885 . The original root came from Scotland. From a single trunk, it spreads over an arbor that covers over 6,000 square feet.  It was first declared the “world’s largest” in the late 1930’s and continues to grow.  

The canopy of the bush/tree now covers nearly 6,000 feet of space and is elevated from the ground by a series of wooden and steel supports. Each year, after the shed husks are cleaned out from around the base of the tree, the plant blossoms with clusters of small white roses. We didn’t get to see it when the roses were in bloom, but it was incredible and you can’t quite believe the enormous size. It must smell beautiful when it’s in bloom.

Tables and chairs are placed all around the area to sit and look at “The World’s Biggest Rosebush/tree

Tombstone AZ. 1881

After the Rose Tree Museum we headed to the Gunfighter Museum and stayed a couple of hours.

A band was playing and people were dancing in the streets of Tombstone.

Listened to the music while walking the streets of Tombstone. Then stopped for a bit at the Crystal Palace.

Originally known as the Golden Eagle Brewery, this was one of early Tombstone’s saloons. Named after its builder, Benjamin Wehrfritz, the Wehrfritz Building expanded by adding a second story to house the offices for such notables as U.S. Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp, attorney George W. Berry, and Dr. George E. Goodfellow.

Part of the saloon burnt down in the town fire of 1882, but was soon rebuilt in the same spot – and renamed Crystal Palace Saloon.

Time to call it a night, we’ll be back in the morning.


We just got back from spending three days in Tombstone, the town too tough to die. It was a really fun time. Melissa will be making a few posts on our trip there, but I wanted to post on one of the neatest places we went. “The Gunfighter Hall Of Fame”. At first glance not impressive, but we spent three hours there. The museum has over fifty display cases filled with good, the bad and the ugly of the old west. Mainly original and authentic belt rigs, and pistols, some rifles from the most famous names in old west history. Also in the museum are(movie props)mainly gun belts and pistols, worn by iconic actors from some of the most famous movies of all time. Valued at over over three million dollars, this was an amazing place to see. The owner was a great guy, we think he was a child actor once, as to own all this he has to know a lot of people in the business. Also all the movie prop guns are real not fake they will fire a live round if one is put in.

When we first walked in the owner was showing a customer, and iconic piece of movie history, I’ll give you a hint, ” Well punk , go ahead make my day”.. Yep the iconic 44 magnum from the movie Dirty Harry.

Go Ahead, make my day

The Duke, John Wayne, below is his pistol rig he wore in many a movie along with his rifle and hat WOW.

TOMBSTONE the movie, below props worn by different actors in the movie

Above from the TV show.

The museum also had the props from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance kid, along with the real deal stuff that was taken from them when they were captured. However we got pics of the movie prop stuff, and not a lot of the real deal stuff, still very cool.

O.K. Lets go on to the real deal stuff from real good guys and bad guys.


George Armstrong Custer, below

One of Bloody Bill Anderson’s Confederate raiders, who rampaged through Kansas and Missouri during the Civil war .

Wild Bill Hickok, below

Billy The Kid, below

Jessie James, below

“Black Jack” Ketchum, bank robber ,captured and sent to the gallows to be hung, this display we did not get a picture but the actual hanging rope and a few other things are in the display. Due to a few factors when he was hung his head popped off.

“Doc” Holliday”, Larger than life and short lived, he studied to be a dentist, thus the nickname Doc. Then became a gambler, smoked and drank all the time, after the gunfight at the OK Corral, he went to Colorado for his health, which by this time he was dying of tuberculosis.

The above is all the worldly remains of Doc Holiday. When he died the owner of the sanitarium collected his personal effects and kept them as payment. This all stayed in the family until 1964 when it went to auction and the Gunfighter Hall of fame bought it. Displayed here for almost 60 years.

There were many more displays, Bat Masterson’s cane and guns, other outlaws and good guys. Way too much too see all at one time. What a great time


We are now at Butterfield Rv Resort here in Benson Arizona. We traveled 164 miles, from Deming New Mexico to here. Had a little rain when we left, but cleared up nice, for a good drive in. Benson is in the south eastern part of the state, we will be in this area at different parks, until the end of the year. Our spot is below.

Spring Canyon State Park

Spring Canyon State Park a sister park of Rockhound State Park, is wedged between Rockhound State Park and Florida Mountains. Its unique and out of the way location, makes it even more scenic as you look at the  views of mountains, desert and basins. It’s a day-use park so we drove out to check it out.

It was fun going up and down the hills to Spring Canyon State Park and back . . . go faster, go faster.

The places we’ve stayed and visited in NM have been wonderful with great scenery! The people are all so nice and it overflows into New Mexico’s colorful heritage.   It’s amazing the imaginative and lively murals they have on buildings, walls, water tanks and bridges, etc. all through NM.   It’s like the license plate says “The Land of Enchantment.” 

Not a cluster, town or settlement  but a “City of Rocks.”

City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations found here.

The park has a square mile area in the Chihuahuan desert of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet.

I thought these looked like faces staring at us.

The park has really neat  geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns, or peaks, rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths.   These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns we see today, creating this incredible “City of Rocks.”      

The last picture is of where the RV park is, unless you want to boondock, which this is a great place to do it, in between the rocks.

The rock formations at the park are so unique that they are only known to exist in six other places in the world.  Some  visitors say they  see e the rock formations as a small city, complete with houses, chimneys, courtyards, and streets.  I  don’t see that, but what I did see was some rock formations that look like they could be modern art sculptures.  It’s a  great place to hike in and out of the rocks, in the nooks and crannies and also a very neat place to boondock right next to the cave or rock of your choice.

We are on the jagged west slope of the Little Florida Mountains, enjoying our stay at . . .

Why it’s called “Little Florida Mountains”  when we’re in New Mexico, who knows?  Rockhound State Park is a favorite place  for “rockhounds” because of the abundant  colored stones  and quartz crystals found there. And the Hiking trails have great views of the surrounding landscape.

Scattered throughout the park are rock and mineral examples of volcanic origin. These gems range from varieties of jasper, silica minerals, quartz crystals, chalcedony, Agate, and common opal, all very pretty rocks. Visitors are allowed to take up to 15 pounds of the rock for their personal collections.  All the rocks in this area are volcanic rocks that are between 22 and 38 million years old.

We are at site 11 on the map