The Arizona Republic
constructing nearby Bartlett Dam, says Frontier Town owner Marc Peagler, whose grandfather acquired the property in 1969. (The outhouse is original, too.)
“Grandpa was dearly in love with the Old West,” Peagler says. “When I was over at his house, we would watch ‘The Rifleman,’ ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘The High Chaparral,’ ‘The Big Valley,’ and everywhere was Western everything. And he wanted to buy a little Western town.”
Grandpa Herman (King) died in 1971, passing the business along to his wife and, eventually, to his grandson.
‘Gun-fighting, fist-fighting Wild West action’
Frontier Town may sound a bit quaint in 2018 — Peagler says it is “very haunted” — but the fact that it has survived all these years testifies to the power of the nostalgia for the Old West of Hollywood myth.
The mostly reconstructed buildings are home to tourist-friendly boutiques (e.g. Udder Delight Natural Skin Care), but a fire in 2016 led to the closure of one of the anchors of the property, the Silver Spur Saloon and Restaurant. It plans to reopen in November or December as part of several upgrades to the property, which also include the stunt shows.
Those come courtesy of Cave Creek resident Chaz Lee, stunt coordinator for Six Gun Entertainment. A stuntman since age 14, he has worked in film and television as well as live-action venues such as Old Tucson Studios and Rawhide in Scottsdale, which used to host shootout shows for the public but now focuses on private events.
“When we say Western entertainment, we are talking about high-falling, roof-rolling, gun-fighting, fist-fighting Wild West action mimicking the stunts and actions you’ve seen in some of Hollywood’s biggest Western movies,” Lee says with well-practiced chatter.
After a tryout show earlier this year, Lee’s crew began performing once or twice a month starting Saturday, Oct. 13 — at high noon, of course — with a “chaptered” series of shows, culminating in a giant free-for-all involving 30 gunfighters. Peagler says he hopes to make the shows weekly next year.
It’s an old-fashioned kind of entertainment, but also a sort of cultural anthropology for the Western spirit (even if a faux one) that has been central to Arizona’s identity.
And then there are those ghost stories.
Frontier Town’s ghost stories
One permanent resident of Frontier Town, Peagler says, is Estrella “PeeWee” Simmons, the last survivor of two couples who purchased the land from the federal government. She sold it in 1969 with an agreement that she would stay in her home, which she did until she died in 1974.
“We’ve all seen Pee-Wee,” Peagler says. “It’s a torso. We’ve had the knocking on the doors. I came up here late one night to get some paperwork done, and I was just wrapping up about 12:15, and there was a knocking on this door, and I didn’t answer, because some things you just don’t want to know.”
Another suspected supernatural Actors with Six Gun Entertainment perform their Wild West stunt show at Frontier Town in Cave Creek on Oct. 9. Frontier Town owner Marc Peagler in the 1930s building that serves as office. “Grandpa Herman killed that on the property here in either late ’69 or early ’70,” he says of the javelina head. 6245 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Actors simulate an altercation.