Ghost Towns

Two Guns Arizona – A Favorite Ghost Town, Then and Now

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So, in 2008, when we still lived in Portland, Ross, my friend Lisa and I went on a road trip around Arizona to a collection of Ghost Towns I researched and wanted to visit (ghost town list). We found almost all of them, making a circle around the entire state in about 6 days.

Lisa and I were on a photo mission, as goes all of our travels together, and we both took a ton of great shots of these quickly fleeting places.

Whenever I wander through a Ghost Town or unrestored ruin of any kind I’m excited about the secrecy of the place, while also being a bit sad about its lack of supervision from vandals.

Ross and I returned to Two Guns on a little weekend road trip to catch up on some of the places in the area we hadn’t been to (in a while at least) while the weather was “nice”, and Two Guns being only a few miles east of Flagstaff was our first stop. It actually turned out to be nastier weather the flatter the land and it was nearly impossible to walk around holding my cameras without gloves in the bitter wind. Ross only brought a fleece hoodie and the hood on my coat always blows off but we always keep a box of snow accessories in the car (ever since Colorado) so we were slightly prepared.

While taking photos, I didn’t remember exactly what the place looked like in 2008 but I looked forward to comparing the photos. There was at least one building and a pool that I didn’t see or was gone. The campground bathroom building was in much rougher shape, the barn (Kamp office and giftshop) was more torn up and graffitied, though the art on that building seems to be consistently better than the others. The towers with the cowboy painted on the site were still standing but the paint was significantly worn down. The gas station was a complete wreck and I believe there used to be a mobile home that is now missing. No desert couch, no gas pumps, no pool – a few of my favorite parts were gone but it didn’t take from the overall experience.

For the runs, I was impressed they were in such good shape. They aren’t closed off or anything but it seems for the most part people leave them alone. It’s nice to know that even though the place is unsupervised and just a short walk away from the mostly destroyed buildings, that everyone seems to leave the ruins be. There were some bricks on the ground here and there but… they are packed with mud, so how long will they stand without maintenance anyway. It’s hard to attribute their destruction to people with some of the harsh weather out there. It will be sad to lose them but if someone maintained them they’d just turn the place into a tourist trap.

Historically the place is fascinating. A regular wild west trade route stop with all the usual trappings of those rugged days, and to top if all off, a cave on the property (we got a guided tour from a local last time) was the last hold out of a group of Navajo Indians running from some cavalry guards, at least that’s how the story was told. They held up down there til they nearly starved, with their horses – though I never figured out how they got horses in there. Either way, amazing and terrible things happened in two guns and the nearby Canyon Diablo, and that alone is worth visiting for.

Either you are a Ghost Town and ruins kind of person, or not. Hopefully this post will help you decide.

Here are some photos from then and now of both the KAMP area and ruins:

2008

twogunshouse1_sm

 

2013

two-guns-bathrooms

 

2008

twogundbarn_sm

 

2013

kamp-graffiti

 

2008

twoguns4_sm

 

2013

two-guns-kamp

2008

twogunsruins_sm

 

2013

window-twogins

 

two-guns-ruins two-guns-tower

More photos:

THEN

NOW

Afterwards we headed north on a brutal dirt road, Indian Route 6930, towards Canyon Diablo but never quite made it there after a mile or so of painful bumps. We still had our studded tires on and didn’t expect to see much per google satellite view. We pulled to the side and ate our packed lunch in the truck, next to some really cold looking cows.

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  • I love these kind of photos, hauntingly beautiful!

  • Thanks! Some are better than others. I take my medium format camera with me everywhere but only get film developed every few months because of the traveling. Hopefully I’ll have another post with those photos sooner than later!