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TWO GUNS

Coconino Co., AZ

 

by

Gary Speck

 

TWO GUNS, Arizona is the ruins of a unique old road town/trading post that once sat alongside US Highway 66, better known as Route 66.  From the 1930s to the early 1970s when the interstate system much eliminated most of the old highways, these squiggly blue map-lines piercing America’s Outback sported motels, gas stations, highway diners and other tourist-attracting amenities marking map dots all trying to pass themselves off as towns.

 

The old route of US 66 across Northern Arizona invites exploration. During its prime, the 165-mile stretch of Route 66 between Flagstaff and the New Mexico state line was home to dozens of trading posts hawking cactus candy, jackalope postcards, petrified wood, rattlesnake “eggs” and other tacky trinkets.

 

East of Flagstaff, at Exit 230, an abandoned, late-20th Century gas station and an abandoned recreational vehicle overnighter campground mark the site of Two Guns, a one-time busy road town. 

 

Just west of the gas station and campground, rock ruins indicate an earlier permutation of the town.  A service road runs parallel to the freeway, looping past the foundations and gas pump-island of an old service station.  Adjacent to it is the huge stone foundation of what may have been a store, and a small block electrical building with the name Two Guns painted on it.  Just to the south, along the north rim of the canyon was a rock ruin with “Mountain Lions” painted on the rock fascia.  Walking through the building that once housed a small zoo, the overlook to the canyon caught my eye.  Across that canyon, rock ruins blended into the native rocks.  A bridge crosses the canyon, past the ruins of a large store, in front of which Route 66 once carried countless thousands of tourists over this bridge and through the town.

 

The overall site consists of several clusters of buildings on both sides of a hairpin curve of Canyon Diablo.  The southernmost cluster of ruins appears to have been a gas station set in front of a circular drive backed by a long rock building that looked to me like an old motel or tourist court. Some sources claim the now roofless structure was an “Indian Pueblo” created for 1930s era tourists.  A round rock “hogan” and four-holer outhouse rounded out the identifiable structures.  Other ruins and foundations were unidentifiable. 

 

A quarter-mile east of that cluster on the east side of the canyon opposite the bridge, three other rock ruins were visible.  I believe they marked the site of the once-famous “Apache” caves, a spot that once drew money magically from the pockets of tourists.

 

The ruins of Two Guns consist of 15-20 structures and a highway bridge.  It looks like when the Interstate came through and traffic was rerouted away from the old location, the “town” drifted closer to the freeway off ramp, hence the “modern” gas station, garage and tourist camp.  It appears that sometime in the past decade they closed.

 

Today, the quiet ruins of Two Guns invite exploration.  When you do visit, please abide by the Ghost Towner’s Code of Ethics.  Two Guns is one of the few ghost towns that is adjacent to a major interstate and served by its own on and off ramp. 

 

·        S½ Sec 14, T20N, R12E, Gila & Salt River Meridian

 

RUINS:

·        Latitude: 35.1164025 / 35° 06' 59" N

·        Longitude: -111.0962543 / 111° 05' 47" W

 

“NEW” TWO GUNS (center of gas station building):

·        Latitude: 35.1146825 / 35° 06' 53" N

·        Longitude: -111.0907406 / 111° 05' 27" W

 

WEST BOUND I-40 OFFRAMP:

·        Latitude: 35.1169138 / 35° 07' 01" N

·        Longitude: -111.0856202 / 111° 05' 08" W

 

EAST BOUND I-40 OFFRAMP:

·        Latitude: 35.1178002 / 35° 07' 04" N

·        Longitude: -111.0953003 / 111° 05' 43" W

 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for December 2005.

 

 

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FIRST POSTED:  December 07, 2005

LAST UPDATED: September 15, 2013

 

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