Gun­ning it out of a ghost town

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SI­MON HOBCROFT

It was in the mid­dle of Ari­zona that my fam­ily and I dis­cov­ered the strange town of Two Guns. Driv­ing on Route 66, we had an ex­pe­ri­ence not un­like the movie Duel. I started to no­tice a swerv­ing semi­trailer get­ting closer and closer to us. I hur­riedly pulled over as it bar­relled past us like a jug­ger­naut.

Shaken, I de­cided to get off the road and took the next turn-off. That hap­pened to be to the ghost town of Two Guns. We knew there was some­thing strange about Two Guns the minute we ar­rived. In the mid­dle of the cloud­less Ari­zona sum­mer, it started to rain. Within five min­utes, it was hail­ing. It was as if the ghosts of Two Guns were telling us to leave.

And the town cer­tainly has many ghosts. It was built in an area known as Canyon Di­ablo where an en­tire tribe of Apaches was burnt to death. In the late 1800s, a town was built. While most Amer­i­can cities have a Main Street, Canyon Di­ablo’s main street was named Hell Street. The street lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion with 14 sa­loons, 10 gam­bling houses and four broth­els.

Canyon Di­ablo’s first mar­shal was sworn in at 3pm and was buried at 8pm the same day. Af­ter the death of four more mar­shals, the army had to be called in.

The town is now known as Two Guns af­ter Harry “Two Gun” Miller, a strange ec­cen­tric who set up a fort and pri­vate zoo in the 1920s and in­sisted that the town be re­named af­ter him. Miller even­tu­ally ended up killing his busi­ness part­ner and skip­ping town. In 1971, what re­mained of the town was de­stroyed in a freak fire.

The only per­son liv­ing in Two Guns to­day is a man who calls him­self Je­sus and who al­legedly shoots at passers-by. Luck­ily, we didn’t meet him. Stranger still, is the lo­cal ru­mour that Rus­sell Crowe bought the town some years ago in or­der to film a re­make of the 1973 sci-fi Western, West­world (now re­made as a TV se­ries, with­out Crowe, and for re­lease next year).

Five min­utes out of Two Guns, the rain stopped and the dry Ari­zona sum­mer re­turned. A few kilo­me­tres fur­ther down the road, we saw po­lice lights flash­ing. The side of a large Win­nebago had been ripped open and its con­tents were strewn ev­ery­where. We then saw the semi­trailer that had al­most hit us, over­turned in a ditch.

I put my foot down to get away from this cursed place. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­ Colum­nists re­ceive a set of men’s botan­i­cal skin­care prod­ucts from The Aro­mather­apy Com­pany in­clud­ing face and body balm, nat­u­ral soap bar, hair and body wash, face cream and shav­ing cream. $120.70. More: shop.david­

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