A Phoenix newspaper once reported on the rampant violence, murders and mayhem in Two Guns, Arizona. What books tell the history of this town?

Wayne Rexroat

Phoenix, Arizona

That story was likely taken from Gladwell Richardson’s out-of-print book, Two Guns, Arizona. The “violence, murders and mayhem” actually took place in Canyon Diablo, a few miles to the north on the Santa Fe mainline.

A 20th-century tourist stop along old Route 66, Two Guns was a store run by the eccentric Two Gun Miller, who lived in a nearby cave. Its ruins can still be found there. His stop included a zoo, where he kept mountain lions, rattlesnakes and other Arizona wildlife. He was careless with his critters, and often got bit and mauled by them.

Canyon Diablo was a wild end-of-track railroad town in 1881 that boomed for only a year during the construction of the bridge over the canyon. But in that year, 34 men and one woman died violently, more than those killed in Tombstone, Dodge City and Abilene combined. The town’s main street, appropriately named “Hell Street,” had 14 saloons, 10 casinos, four bordellos and two dance halls.

Richardson seems to have combined the two towns—Two Guns and Canyon Diablo—in his book.

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