Tuesday, August 11, 2009
My next project: The Old West gaming board
Since I picked up Legends Of The Old West last year at Games Day, I've been formulating an Old West table in my head. After forcing myself to finish painting nearly all of my Ork force for the AWC tournament, I'm looking for a change of pace (not to mention avoiding green paint at all costs!) and I've decided that my fall project will be putting together some terrain so I can play LotOW.
I'll be taking my inspiration from an area of the country I traveled through on my honeymoon - the Southwest, specifically the Arizona/New Mexico area. Almost exactly 4 years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks traveling down old Route 66 from our home in Chicago, all the way to Los Angeles. It was a life-altering journey and a perfect counterpoint to another life-altering event - our wedding. Near the end of our trip, we stopped at a ghost town called Two Guns, in eastern Arizona. Two Guns was, essentially, a tourist trap on the Mother Road - a town that lived by Route 66 and died when the interstate passed it by, just like so many other small towns along the route.
You can read about the history of Two Guns, AZ here
I remember us driving through Two Guns and not wanting to step out of the car - the place has an eerie feeling if you know its history and its difficult to describe to someone who's never been there. Some say the area is cursed - and that may well be true. But, even now, years later, that area stills calls to me more than any other I visited. So, I want to memorialize it in miniature. The problem is this...Two Guns (despite its wild name) was not an Old West town. But, just a few miles NNW, is a ghost town that truly was...
Canyon Diablo, A.T. (Note: Canyon Diablo & Two Guns are NOT in the same location as Wikipedia claims)
Canyon Diablo was a true "Hell On Wheels" town - when the railroad workers stopped to await a bridge to cross the canyon of the same name around 1880, the saloons and brothels exploded in popularity and violence. Saloons, brothels, dance halls, and gambling dens faced each other on one long street, the Atlantic and Pacific railroad tracks running down the center. This was not "Main St." as in most towns, this was (literally) "Hell St.". Initially, there was no law in Canyon Diablo and, when the residents did finally hire on sherrifs, most lasted less than a day.
Within its short lifespan (the bridge was completed around 1882 and the town deserted shortly afterwards), Canyon Diablo was home to around 2000 people, at that time, more than even Flagstaff. It consisted of the following:
-14 Saloons (I don't think my table will need quite so many!)
-10 Gambling Dens/"Poker Flats" (ditto)
-4 "Houses Of Ill Repute" [all untitled]
-2 "Dance Halls"
-1 Dry Goods Store
-various "Eating Counters" (which I've never heard of or seen in contemporary photos of other towns)
-1 "yellow-painted" A&P R.R. Depot
-various tents, shacks, and shotgun houses
-Navajo trading post (which may or may not be contemporanious to the town)
As you can see, while short-lived, this was a very colorful town and ripe for some reconstruction. I hope to get started as soon as possible.
View Larger Map
Note: You can still visit Two Guns and Canyon Diablo today. If you're so inclined, I suggest reading this site on how to get there...