Ghost Towns – Two Guns, Arizona

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The story behind Two Guns, originally called Canyon Lodge, is a sad one. It all started in the 1920s, when the infamous Route 66 gained massive traffic from adventurous travelers. Many of these travelers stopped for supplies at Canyon Lodge, which was just a small trading post run by Earle and Louise Cundiff at the time. The town’s success quickly caught the attention of the entrepreneur Harry “Two Guns” Miller, who recognized the the vast amounts of wealth to be gained there. He convinced the Cundiffs to lease him the site for 10 years and renamed the town. Under Miller’s command, the town was transformed into a full-blown tourist trap, complete with its own zoo and attractions.

One of these so called “attractions” was a nearby canyon, which was the site of a battle between the Apaches and the Navajos. Inside the canyon was a cave called the Apache Death Cave, which served as a tomb for 42 Apache men. Although the cave’s backstory is fascinating in its own right, Miller decided that it wasn’t intriguing enough for his tourists. He renamed it “Mystery Cave,” built fake ruins, sold the Apache skulls as souvenirs, and perhaps most egregiously, added a soda stand.

The town soon fell victim to a major robbery, which made relations between Miller and the Cundiffs very tense, culminating in a heated argument during which Miller shot Earle Cundiff dead. Incredibly, Miller was acquitted at trial, but shortly thereafter, he was attacked twice by mountain lions and bitten by a Gila monster. This trail of bad luck finally reached a tipping point in 1929, when a fire burned down the whole town. After losing a court battle with Louise Cundiff to keep the land, Miller left. Route 66 was rerouted to the opposite canyon, and Two Guns slowly faded into obscurity, its golden days long behind it.

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