Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whiskey Row

Alright, here's one last history lesson about Prescott's colorful beginnings. Prescott was chosen by Abraham Lincoln to be the capitol of the Arizona Territory. It was originally supposed to be in Tucson, but Lincoln thought that there were too many Confederate sympathizers in the southern part of the state. Prescott happened to be much farther north, and also was experiencing a gold rush at the time. Couple it's location with it's new found wealth to support the Union and you have two convincing reasons that Prescott became the capitol of the territory.

Here is a picture of Prescott's court house today. It served an important role in Arizona's territorial days.

The statue in front is of a man named "Bucky" O'Neill.  He was one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and this sculpture was created by Solon Borglum to commemorate the "Wild West".  Interesting side note: The sculptor's brother created the  images that are carved into Mt. Rushmore today.

Right across the street from the Courthouse square lies the infamous "Whiskey Row".

This man is headed there for a drink....maybe.
Here is a picture of Whiskey Row today. 

It originally consisted of 18 Saloons. Legend has it that men would start on one end of Whiskey Row, and work their way down to the other end, having one drink in each bar.  However, every one of the original saloons burned to the ground in a massive fire that destroyed much of the city in 1900.  The town quickly rebuilt it's shops and saloons using brick and mortar.  Those buildings are still standing today, and very much alive with bars and booming hotels and restaurants.

A walk around the court square gives you a feeling of stepping back in time, and the shops around town are unique and eclectic.  Pictures of some of the old mercantiles and drug stores of the 1800's grace the walls of the Sharlot Hall Museum.  The 1800's drug store carried hundreds of elixirs and tonics that promised to cure virtually anything that ailed you.  However, the vast majority of the so-called "medicines" were nothing more than alcohol and opium mixed.  For this reason, the Federal Government outlawed  them for being fraudulent and dishonest.  Addiction to these fake medicines was a huge problem back then.

I've never been more glad to live in the era of modern medicine.

The real history of Whiskey Row embodies the spirit of the Wild West that Hollywood has spent decades trying to recreate on the cinema screen.  A visit to the museum transports you back to a time when the "West" was  untamed.  Pioneers, Indians, and Cowboys make the true story of Prescott much more exciting than anything I've ever seen on the big screen.

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