Blog Posts Tagged ‘historic’

Rex Allen Museum

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Many of us wish we could live like the cowboys in the movies. To live on the rugged edge of the world would be a dream. But alas, we had to accept the fact that not all of us could be movie cowboys. Now, though, you can vicariously live through the lives of at least one movie cowboy who came before us by visiting the Rex Allen Museum.

Rex Allen, 1920-1999, was known as the “Arizona Cowboy” and “Mister cowboy.” He was a real cowboy who became the last of the singing cowboys of Western movie family.

Those who visit the museum will see memorabilia from Rex’s lifetime success in rodeo, radio, movies and television.

Bird Cage Theater

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The Bird Cage Theatre was opened on December 26, 1881, by William “Billy” Hutchinson and his wife Lottie. Its name apparently referred to the fourteen “cages” or boxes that were situated on two balconies on either side of the main central hall. These boxes, also referred to as “cribs”, had drapes that could be drawn while prostitutes entertained their clients. The main hall contained a stage and orchestra pit at one end where live shows were performed.

Its name was briefly changed to the Elite Theatre after it was acquired by Joe and Minnie Bignon in 1882 before being changed back to the Bird Cage Theatre.

The Bird Cage Theatre operated continuously – twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year – for the next eight years. It gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in the country, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that “the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” More than 120 bullet holes are evident throughout the building.

Aside from Lillian Russell, many other famous entertainers of the day were alleged to have performed there over the years, including Eddie Foy, Sr., Lotta Crabtree and Lillie Langtry. In 1882, Fatima allegedly performed her belly-dancing routine at the Bird Cage Theatre.

The basement poker room is said to be the site of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously twenty-four hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it that as much as $10 million changed hands during the marathon game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst. When ground water began seeping into the mines in the late 1880s, the town went bust, the Bird Cage Theatre along with it. The poker game ended and the building was sealed up in 1889.

The building was not opened again until it was purchased in 1934, and the new owners were delighted to find that almost nothing had been disturbed in all those years. It has been a tourist attraction ever since, and is open to the general public year-round, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.

The theater is said to be haunted and has been featured in the paranormal investigation shows Ghost Hunters in 2006, Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab in 2009, and Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files in 2011.

Titan Missile Museum

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Bomb shelters, the Berlin Wall, weekly tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, the piercing sounds of air raid sirens, and the Space Race. These are the hallmarks of the “Cold War” era.

The Titan Missile Museum, located in the town of Green Valley, showcases the dramatic vestiges of the Cold War between the U.S. and former Soviet Union and provides a vivid education about the history of nuclear conflict-a history of keeping the peace.

Visitors enjoy a journey through time as they stand on the front line of the Cold War. This preserved Titan II missile site, officially known as complex 571-7, is all that remains of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987.

Able to launch from its underground silo in just 58 seconds, the Titan II was capable of delivering a 9-megaton nuclear warhead to targets more than 6300 miles (10,000 km) away in about 30 minutes. There is no other place in the world where visitors can get this close to an intercontinental ballistic missile in its operational environment. This one-of-a kind museum gives visitors a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter nuclear war. What was once one of America’s most top secret places is now a National Historic Landmark, fulfilling its new mission of bringing Cold War history to life for millions of visitors from around the world.

Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road

Travelers wishing to enjoy the beauty of southern Arizona should look no further than state routes 82 and 83, along a stretch known as the Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road.

This stretch offers winding views of vegetation from fields of wildflowers to tall sycamore and cottonwood trees. The drive includes sights of the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains, which tower 9,000 feet.

The jaunt is a quick 52-mile stretch, which provides the perfect afternoon drive or daytime outing. Drivers start on State Route 83, which runs south near the community of Vail near Interstate 10. Route 83 goes through a harbor of vineyards resting in the southern Arizona soil. This road will connect with State Route 82, which then takes travelers to the town of Patagonia.

Part of Arizona’s Mountain Empire, Patagonia offers travelers a respite at Patagonia Lake State Park, a destination for hiking, picnicking, bird tours and boating.

After a brief afternoon rest, the State Route 82 continues in to Nogales, Arizona. Travelers can spend the rest of their day exploring Arizona’s largest Mexican border town. Enjoy shopping or wandering in the town or head to Pena Blanca Lake for fishing and boating.

Copper Queen Mine

Queen Mine Tour

A life of a miner has never been an easy one. Miners spend their days in darkness doing grueling labor at a menial salary. Being a miner requires much strength, endurance and willpower. The Copper Queen mine once hosted such hardworking men and today, the Bisbee mine remains open as a tourist destination.

The Copper Queen Mine was one of Bisbee’s richest mines that operated from 1877-1975. Visitors get to learn all about the mine and about the people who spent many hours within it during the Copper Queen Mine Tour. This tour allows visitors to step back into the past as they adorn a hard hat, miner’s headlamp and yellow slicker throughout the tour. Tour guides lead groups 1,500 feet into the mine and recount mining days, techniques, dangers and drama. Visitors will even get to experience first-hand what it was like to work underground.

The Cocopah Museum

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The Cocopah (Kwapa), also known as the River People, have long lived along the lower Colorado River and delta. For centuries, the Cocopah people, described as generous and non-materialistic, have maintained their traditional and cultural beliefs through the various political environments and ever-changing landscapes.

Cocopah history will come alive as you traverse the Cocopah Museum’s walls. The museum, which was built in 1996, is a recognized federal repository. Its exhibits feature objects and depictions of Cocopah history and culture.

Museum guests will see examples of traditional clothing such as bark skirts and leather sandals, modern-day beadwork, arrow weed-woven baskets, pottery, traditional tattoo designs, musical instruments and the Cocopah warriors’ display.

The museum is surrounded by a 1.5-acre park that features native trees and plants and a traditional dwelling replica made from natural elements.

The Cocopah Indian Tribe is one of seven descendant Tribes from the greater Yuman language-speaking people who occupied lands along the Colorado River. Cocopah Tribal ancestors also lived along the Lower Colorado River region near the river delta and the Gulf of California. The Cocopah people had no written language, however, historical records were passed on orally or interpreted in documents written by outside visitors.

Learn more about the tribe by visiting the museum. While you’re there, take a piece of their history home by purchasing authentic Cocopah beadwork, Native arts and crafts, Native American music, jewelry, novelty items and more at the gift shop!

Hi Jolly Monument


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Image courtesy of


In Quartzite a special tomb holds the remains of “Hi Jolly,” or, Hadji Ali, a Syrian caretaker who received the nickname from his American masters. In 1865, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis came up with a plan to transport freight and people across the desert Southwest by means of camels. Davis eventually imported more than 70 of the beasts and along with the first batch came Hi Jolly. However, the Civil War intervened and Davis was reassigned elswhere, and without his support the project was abandoned. The camels were set free to fend for themselves in the desert near Quartzsite.

A plaque on Hi Jolly’s tomb says of the camel experiment: “A fair trial might have resulted in complete success.” Hi Jolly remained, living into his seventies. The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a pyramid tomb made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz. It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903. Thirty-three years later the Arizona Highway Department came along and cemented a bronze plaque to the tomb, telling Hi Jolly’s story, and topped the pyramid with a metal camel silhouette.

In those long-ago days the Quartzsite cemetery was remote, just bare ground and a few scrubby sagebrush at the edge of an obscure desert outpost. Now you have to drive through a bustling Quartzsite market area to get to Hi Jolly. Still, his tomb is the largest figure on its tiny patch of desert solitude.

On a side note, the camels outlived both Davis and Hi Jolly, and their last reported sighting was in 1942

The Yuma Territorial Prison

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The Yuma Territorial Prison is a reminder of the days of the old west when outlaws were wreaking havoc and Billy the Kid was King.

The Yuma Territorial Prison saw its first prisoner in 1875 and operated for 33 years thereafter. It saw a total of 3,069 prisoners, 29 of which were women.

The prison was a model institution since it provided education to its inmates along with amenities like electricity. The prison, now a museum, houses photographs and colorful exhibits of those who once stayed here and the prison life they had to endure. Visitors can get a glimpse into the life of this prison as they walk through its strap iron cells and solitary chambers.