Abandoned Route 66: The Tourist Trap Ghost Town

By

13th Mar, 2013

(c) El Toro

Route 66; where all those wonderfully off-beat attractions of ‘Roadside America’ culture first sprouted. By the 1920s, Route 66, known then as the National Trail, was fast-becoming the most popular road in the country for Westward pioneers travelling across the Diablo Canyon. A 19th century isolated trading post in Arizona suddenly became a bustling stop for drivers seeking gas, food, lodging and entertainment. Today, the only thing you’ll find in the barely-there town of Two Guns is the extensive ruin of a 20th century tourist trap.

Two Guns Entrance Sign

(c) Adventures of a GoodMan.com

The last caretaker’s mobile home has been deserted and stripped, and the rare visitors passing through can roam the site freely.

It is believed the roadside town is cursed by a ghost tribe of Apaches who were burnt alive in a nearby cave in 1878 by the Navajos. Looking back at the events, it would seem the site was doomed shortly after an eccentric entrepreneur Harry “Two Guns” Miller came into town with dollar signs in his eyes.

(c) Ian B Larson

Mr. Miller had got wind of the growing prosperity at the canyon lodge and made a deal with the landowners, Earle and Louis Cundiff, to lease a business site. He transformed the desert land into a full-blown tourist trap, complete with gas station, lodging, food emporium and of course, a zoo.

(c) BS Tree

(c) MJefferson

(c) BS Tree

Miller, who claimed to be full-blooded Apache, also started giving tours of the canyon, which during the 19th century, was the site of the gruesome confrontation between the Navajos and the Apaches. He cleaned up  the cave which had essentially served as a tomb for the remaining skeletons of 42 Apache men that had died there in a surprise angry retaliation from the Navajos for attacking their villages.

(You can read more about this harrowing story here).

Apache Death Cave

(c) JtSteeves

Miller called it the Apache Death Cave and built fake ruins around it and sold the Apache’s skulls as souvenirs. To make it a little less morbid, he later strung some lights, added a soda stand and renamed it the “Mystery Cave”.

This is when things started to go very wrong for Two Guns.

Two Guns Theme Park

(c) Reeno Shooter

A series of unfortunate events began to plague Miller and the tourist town. Two Guns suddenly spiralled into misfortune after a major robbery of the trading post. Tension between Miller and his landlords, the Cundiffs, resulted in a heated dispute where Miller shot and killed Mr. Cundiff. He was acquitted at trial but incredibly, he was soon after mauled by mountain lions, twice, on separate occasions. Next he was bitten by a native venomous lizard known as the Gila monster which left him with a disfigured arm.Wooden Walk Bridge - Two Guns, Arizona

(c) NativeEagle

Finally in 1929, a devastating fire engulfed the roadside town of Two Guns. After losing his greedy court battle with Mrs. Cundiff to keep the land, Miller finally left.

Louise Cundiff and her new husband tried to rebuild the site but by this time, the heyday of Route 66 was over. It had been rerouted to the opposite canyon and the tourists had stopped coming.

Two Guns, Arizona

A derelict Two Guns was sold and leased numerous times during the 1950s, remaining in a sorry state. In 1960s, as a new Interstate 40 was being built that would give the old attraction its own highway exit and new visitors, an ambitious new owner began re-building a restaurant, souvenir shop, gas station, another zoo, and restoring the tourist trails to the Apache tomb cave. Things were looking up for the attraction but in 1971, it all went up in flames again when another devastating fire swallowed up the last hope for the Two Guns. It has never been inhabited since.

Two Guns, Arizona

Dare to visit? The barbed-wire fences have open gates so all of the old and newer buildings are accessible.  The old stone buildings are intact, despite heavy graffiti. Today, Two Guns has an unlikely Hollywood guardian in Russell Crowe, who purchased the property in 2011 to film a remake of WestWorld.  No word on when production will start (status: ‘in development’ on IMDB.com), but it would probably be wise to make a ‘no smoking rule’ a priority on set. Until then, the site is completely abandoned; no caretaker, no soda stands, no nobody…

Two Guns, Arizona

(c) Alison Lienau

How to Find Two Guns:

On I-40 about 30 miles east of Flagstaff – has its own exit.

Interstate 40, Two Guns, Arizona, 86047, United States

Sources: GhostTowns.comAtlasObscura

:::

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 

.

You Might Also Like

Comments

More in AbandonedDon't Be A TouristNostalgiaOff-Beat & Little Known

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

salemwitchmuseum

Welcome to Halloweentown, USA

“I think I saw the Head Witch of Salem in Trader Joe’s today,” I remember my mother saying. “She was wearing a pointy hat and cape in front of me at the checkout.” Welcome to Salem, Mas...

Trending 233
parisianbohemian

The Secret Bohemian Dinner Party in Paris

Behind the ominous door at number 8 Rue de Conservatoire, a secret bohemian dinner party awaits... Up the theatrical marble staircase, knock at the door on the first floor to find your eveni...

Trending 4,040
delaney

The Miniature Library of Forgotten Curiosities

If you can't have your own velvet-curtained library complete with dusty volumes, mysterious documents and antique treasures, how about a miniature one? On my internet travels today, I stumbled upo...

Trending 3,085
catacombs25

Penetrating the Paris Catacombs: Level One

We were told to dress in inconspicuous clothing, wear sturdy boots and gloves, bring food supplies, an ID in case of arrest and a rosary in case of the unimaginable. We met our host to the underworl...

Trending 12,235
dopples

13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (Vol.XCVII)

1. A Biblical Theme Park in Florida Photographer Daniel Cronin to the ancient and sacred land of Orlando, Florida to visit The Holy Land Experience, a Biblical theme park owned and operated by the...

Trending 20,981
connecticut

For Sale! The Ghost Town that Nobody Wanted

Johnsonville, Connecticut may be completely void of (human) inhabitants at present and characterised by those particular houses where one might occasionally see the faint shadows of children in ni...

Trending 160,264