Black & White Glacier, Matanuska, AlaskaBlack & White Glacier, Matanuska, Alaska

A Western Classic! Part 1 of 3

April 08, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and when I look back on it now, I realize how much of it I took for granted. There really is a lot of fun and amazing things to do out there! For instance, Old Tucson. I haven't been there since I was in my mid-twenties. I realized as we were planning this road trip that I have never taken my youngest out there, and my other children haven't been there since they were babies. So, we HAD to go, and I am SO very glad we did!!  This blog will be posted in several separate sections because there were so many different things to do and I want to cover them all for you (along with some great photos, of course).

So, without further ado, let  the show begin! I'll start by telling you a little history of the place. 

Old Tucson came to life in 1939 when Columbia Pictures chose a Pima County-owned site on which to build a replica of 1860’s Tucson for the movie ArizonaThe $2.5 million film, starring William Holden and Jean Arthur, set a new standard of realism for Hollywood westerns, initiating the move away from studio backdrop movies to outdoor epics.

Local technicians and carpenters built the town from scratch, erecting more than 50 buildings in 40 days.

Descendants of the Tohono O’odham, Arizona’s first inhabitants formerly known as the Papago, assisted in the

set production. Without the convenience of running water, they made more than 350,000 adobe bricks from

the desert dirt to create authentic structures for the film. Many of those structures still stand today. 

Hollywood began taking notice of Old Tucson, which soon became a favorite filming location. Hence, “Hollywood in the Desert.” In 1947, Gene Autry starred in The Last Roundup, followed in 1950 by Jimmy Stewart in Winchester ’73, and Ronald Reagan in The Last Outpost. 


During the 1950’s, the Western movie era was in full swing nationwide. In the fifties alone, such western classics as Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956) with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, The Lone Ranger and The Lost City of Gold (1957), and Cimarron (1959) with Glenn Ford were filmed at Old Tucson. The park continued to grow, and so did the legends that came to film here. For example, western film legend John Wayne, who soon became friends with studio

owner Shelton, starred in four movies

at Old Tucson and each production added buildings to the town.

And so, the many legends and western film history at Old Tucson had begun....

In 1995, a fire swept through the park, it was a challenge to restore what had been priceless to movie buffs around the world. Old Tucson responded to that challenge and 18 months after the devastating blaze that destroyed nearly 40% of the buildings, the park reopened.

Old Tucson is alive and kicking, rebuilt with a new philosophy and direction. The famous soundstage and the 10,000 square-foot wardrobe and prop collections are sadly gone forever, but there is a new Old Tucson and it is well worth the visit.

Here is what Old Tucson looks like today.

Hover over the photographs for more information.


One handsome cowboy scoping out the joint. :) My youngest checking out the place for the first time.

The High Chaparral

Hotel Del Toro

The Grand Palace Hotel & Saloon A wonderful place for entertainment, and the BEST margaritas!

Awesome entertainment.The entertainment was fantastic and the actor/actresses were spot on!

Enjoying their ice cream :)


Over all, the entire family had a great time. I do remember a few things from my childhood that I feel I should pass on to those that have never been there. If you go during summer, this place can be extremely HOT!! We were there the end of March, so the weather was really nice, but I remember being there years ago during the end of May/beginning of June and was having a real hard time with the heat. If you go during the summer, be sure to drink a lot of water, and enjoy a lot of the indoor shows so you have time out of the sun. Heck, enjoy the indoor shows no matter what time of the year you go just because they're fun! 

Part 2 of 3 Here


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