Two Guns, AZ, is one of the many cursed ghost towns scattered throughout the Southwest. It's a long-abandoned town, but tourists still stop to see its ruins along Old Route 66. Set on the rim of a canyon, the strange little town was the sight of a tragedy involving two Native American tribes. Beginning in the early 1920s, Earle and Louise Cundiff established a trading post, which grew over the years to include a restaurant and gas pumps.
A man named Harry E. Miller showed up in the late '20s, leased property from the Cundiffs, and constructed a full-blown tourist trap. He played up the area's turbulent history and claimed he was full-blooded Apache. It's unclear if this claim was true. However, it was clear Miller wasn't happy simply leasing land from the Cundiffs: he wanted to own Two Guns, and his actions led to many disputes and at least one slaying.
But some wonder: was the downfall of Two Guns Miller's fault alone, or did the land have a curse long before he blew into town?
The Postal Service Refused To Acknowledge The Name 'Two Guns'
Homesteader and primary town landowner Earle Cundiff applied for a post office for Two Guns in 1924. Unfortunately, the US government refused to issue the town a post office under such a name. So, instead, they chose the old name of Canyon Lodge.
After the government granted the post office, Cundiff became the official postmaster of Canyon Lodge/Two Guns.
Two Guns Drew Tourists In With A Southwestern Zoo
When Miller re-imagined the town as a tourist destination, he added a zoo. The small roadside menagerie featured animals native to the Southwest, such as mountain lions, Gila monsters, bobcats, and snakes. Miller's captured mountain lions attacked him twice; his Gila monster - known for its poison that causes painful swelling - also bit him. The attacks happened after Miller avoided prison time for killing Earle Cundiff, the town's primary landowner.
The zoo, along with the rest of the town's structures, relocated several times to match the flow of the highway. Visitors can still see the crumbling remains of the cages today.
The Bones Of Slain Apaches Sold As Dark Souvenirs
When Miller decided to turn the small town of Two Guns - still called Canyon Lodge at the time - into a tourist destination, he "rebranded" the Apache Death Cave. He led tours into the cavern, but took things arguably too far as he settled into the area.
He built fake ruins, including an artificial Hopi house, as well as a soda stand in the cave. Miller began calling it the "Mystery Cave." In addition, he saved the last Apache skulls from the cave and sold them as souvenirs.
The Canyon Diablo Bridge Acted As An Important Link For Two Guns
Canyon Diablo was a tricky obstacle for European settlers to the region, which surrounded modern-day Winslow, AZ. Early explorers estimated it was 100 feet deep, with steep sides making crossing difficult. In the 1880s, settlers built a railroad bridge across the canyon, followed by an automobile bridge, AKA the Canyon Diablo Bridge, in 1915.
The Canyon Diablo Bridge turned into a part of the original Route 66, though by the 1930s, it became abandoned as the roadways changed. It remains intact today, though its purpose is no longer to provide an easy route for travelers between Flagstaff and Winslow.