Friday, 12 September 2014

Wild West Photo Friday: J.W. Swart's Saloon in Charleston, Arizona in 1885

Working on my next Osprey book about the Apache Wars has got me reading a lot about Arizona. I've touched on Arizona history before with a different Osprey publication on Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Ride.

In relation to that already published book, here's an image of J.W. Swart's Saloon in Charleston, Arizona. They look like a friendly group, don't they? Charleston was a rough town situated nine miles southwest of Tombstone. It was right across the San Pedro river from Millville, so named because it milled the silver ore mined from Tombstone. The milling process required more water than was available in Tombstone, so the ore had to be shipped down to Millville.

Charleston was where the men who worked in the milling plant lived. It was a rough town and a meeting place for the infamous band of rustlers called the Cowboys, who would have a date with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday at the OK Corral. The Clanton family, who were prominent among the Cowboys, had a ranch not far from Charleston. One wonders how many outlaws are in this picture.

Charleston has all but disappeared. The collapse of Tombstone's mining industry in 1886, and an earthquake in 1887, pretty much erased Charleston from the map. All that's left of this wild west town today are a few foundations in a lonely stretch of desert.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I bet half of those guys are outlaws.

D.G. Hudson said...

I have little sympathy for the endurance of outlaw towns, or the outlaws who inhabited them. How were they different from our criminals of today? Was the photo made to show how many men supported the tavern, as a type of advertisement (just wondering)?

The photos you find are always interesting, Sean.

Sean McLachlan said...

DG: They're different than the criminals of today because we don't have to suffer their lawlessness. :-) When you read the real stories about some of the Wild West "heroes" such as Jesse James and Billy the Kid, they turn out to be little more than competent thugs.

SD Swart said...

These are not outlaws at least most of them. You guys clearly watch too many western movies. The big man in the back is JW Swart my ggg uncle. Charleston was a legit town with stores and other legit business.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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