Cochise County has a wild past!

Cochise County had numerous conflicts in the American Old West, between white settlers and Apache Indians, differing political and economic parties, and outlaw gangs and law enforcement.

The County was cut from Pima County in 1881 – during a period of the American Southwest branded by boomtowns, large-scale farming and ranching, lucrative mining operations, and new railroad technology.

Photo Credit: (top) @wrightthiswaytravel, (bottom) Amanda Baillie

County County is filled with history, particularly the “Wild West” era. You can see remnants of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s all throughout Cochise County.


The Arizona Folklore Preserve is a dream-come-true for Dolan Ellis, Arizona’s Official State Balladeer. Ellis wanted a place where the songs and stories celebrating Arizona and our western heritage and culture could be performed and preserved.

In 1990, he visited southeastern Arizona’s Huachuca Mountains, and fell in love with this beautiful area, rich in history and folklore. In 2000, Ellis joined with the University of Arizona South to build the current Folklore Center with its state-of-the-art theater.

Ellis’ partnership with the University of Arizona South ensures the Arizona Folklore Preserve will continue to exist far into the future – providing talented singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, storytellers or poets for all to enjoy.


Head back to the turn of the 20th Century with a visit to Brown Canyon Ranch just outside Sierra Vista. First permanently occupied around 1800, the ranch was acquired by the U.S. Forest Service as part of a 1998 land swap to become part of the Coronado National Forest.

Tour the adobe ranch house, storeroom, and corrals, where the old windmill still pumps water, and the tree-surrounded pond provides a cool view and home to wildlife.

Trails lead from the ranch to Brown Canyon and connect with other trails throughout the National Forest. Allow 2 hours.

Photo Credit: Amanda Baillie


Rex Allen grew up on a homestead 40 miles north of Willcox. He was a real cowboy who became the last of the singing cowboys of Western movie fame.

Inside the Rex Allen Museum & Cowboy Hall of Fame, opened in 1989 to honor the famous home-town boy, you’ll see memorabilia from his lifetime success in rodeo, radio, movies, and television.

Across the street from the museum is a larger-than-life bronze statue of Rex, created by sculptor Buck McCain. Inside the statue is a molded bronze heart with arteries, symbolizing that Rex’s heart will always be in Willcox. Rex’s horse, KoKo, is buried at the foot of the statue.


Take a step back in time as you visit the historic John Slaughter Ranch near Douglas. Texas John Slaughter was one of the Southwest’s most beloved characters and most feared lawmen. And here, at his ranch, you can enjoy the scenery, wildlife, and atmosphere that has been left largely untouched since Texas John Slaughter’s time.

During its peak, the ranch employed 150 people, controlled 100,000 acres in the U.S. and Mexico, and supplied beef and produce to area towns and military posts. And, except for when Pancho Villa’s men showed up, no shotgun was necessary.

Visitors can view the house, wash house, icehouse, granary, and commissary. Bring a picnic lunch; there are many shade trees overlooking the one-acre House Pond which provides an ideal picnic spot.

Photo Credit: Amanda Baillie


Ghost towns collapse time between the “once was” and the “now is.” They have a way of immersing you in history, but on the side of it where the doors all have creaked their last creak and mostly fallen off.

Fairbank (outside Sierra Vista), Gleeson (outside Tombstone), Pearce (south of Willcox), and Charleston and Millville (outside Tombstone) are just a few of Arizona’s some 200 ghost towns, and the County’s own 45+ ghost towns, many left over from the great mining boom of the West.

Many of these ghost towns might now just be deserted inns and rest stops, trading posts with nobody left wanting to trade, or mining communities that ran out of copper or silver. Still, they offer a sneak peek into what once was…that many can’t help but peek.


Looking for more Wild West information? Check out the resources below.


1 Tucked in the southeast corner of Arizona, the region known as Cochise County is home to multiple small towns with legendary history—like Tombstone (“the town too tough to die”), the artsy community of Bisbee, and Willcox, one of Arizona’s three wine-growing regions. And, since many are less than an hour’s distance from one another, it’s possible to start your morning in one, continue on in another and finish your evening in yet one more. Visit
2 American Cowboy offers an excellent Western road trip itinerary through Arizona’s cowboy country. Visit


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