Old West Saloons

Old West SaloonsAn Authentic Old West Saloon is Right Here in Tombstone!

Old West saloons were about the first place in town to open...

Businesses opening in any new settlement catered to immediate needs. After a hard day of work, or for a newcomer to town - the saloon was a meeting place, and a place to relax.

Customers were nearly all men. It was their means of entertainment. The typical saloon in the old West didn't have bar stools as they do today.

Look at old photos. You'll see customers stood at the bar. Sometimes chairs and tables were in the back. Often a gambling area was set aside. With a card table and chairs.

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Women pioneers did not feel comfortable in these environments. They didn't have many entertainment options in town. As Clara Spalding Brown wrote "The ladies of Tombstone are not so liberally provided with entertainment, and find little enjoyment aside from a stroll about town after sunset..." 1 Sometimes they'd go into the more respectable, lavish establishments for sponsored special events. But only if they were properly escorted.

So glad it's not that way now! I'd be hard put to stand for it, I think. Our town - Tombstone AZ - has some wonderful Old West Saloons to visit...


Old West Saloons of Tombstone AZ

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Like many Old West Towns - Tombstone's founding came from its mining operations. Silver mining adventurers came to make a living, and perhaps uncover great wealth.

To support the mining interests, other businesses soon followed. Those immediate were mercantiles and grocers. To supply entertainment, quick eats and relaxation the saloons and brothels followed mining towns rather quickly.

Welcome to the Crystal Palace, Tombstone ArizonaThe Rebuilding of The Golden Eagle Brewery made the fine establishment: The Crystal Palace Saloon of 1882

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In 1880 when Tombstone elected its first mayor, the population steadily increased. By the middle of the year, it had all major conveniences a town of that era should need. That included 18 saloons or bars.


The Most Historical Tombstone AZ Old West Saloon Began as the Golden Eagle Brewery

  • It opened July 1880 on Allen & Fifth by Bernhardt Wehrfritz and the Tribolet brothers. After the May 1882 fire it was rebuilt as the Crystal Palace. 
  • It's still in business today. [Read More Here>]
  • The Crystal Palace Saloon is the most authentic old West saloon in town, of all, now as an eating and drinking establishment. It's still located on that same Northwest corner of Allen Street and 5th Street. 
  • That's been its location from the time it was first named the Golden Eagle Brewery in 1879. Ben Wehrfritz stayed connected to the business for a long time. But many others were owners through the years.
  • Today the owner is Ms. Kimmie - if you stop in, you might be able to even ask her some questions yourself! But she has an excellent staff, who can also detail some of the historical features of this building.

These other savory drinking establishments were also in town:

  • The Alhambra Saloon on Allen Street, midway between Fourth & Fifth Streets. It was known as the finest in town, or even all the West, except for San Francisco.
  • The Cosmopolitan Hotel Saloon, completed in July 1880. It was in a fine building for its time. It even had an orange tree garden lining the front along Allen Street.
  • The Oriental Saloon was one of the most famous. Located at the corner of Allen & Fifth. Opened by Milton Joyce in the Vizina & Cook building on July 21, 1880.
  • A small bar opened in May 1880 on Fremont Street. The owner, Julius A. Kelly began expanding, and reopened on August 6 as Kelly's Wine Rooms.
  • The Grand Hotel Saloon was on the first floor of the deluxe Grand Hotel, fronting on Fourth Street. The building itself took up about a third to half along the block on Allen Street. It opened its doors on September 9, 1880.

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Almost all drinking establishments also offered games of chance of one sort or another. The most popular were Faro or Keno. Roulette or poker were found in the more exclusive places.

Other less opulent bars and saloons were available:

  • D.P. Walsh's Cock Pit Saloon also offered cock-fights. Place your wagers!
  • The Arcade Saloon was on Allen Street between Fifth & Sixth Streets
  • The E. Fontana Dance Hall was on Fremont & Sixth
  • The Tivoli Gardens was located on Allen Street, between Fourth & Fifth
  • The Occidental Saloon was popular. On the North side of Allen Street, midway between Fourth and fifth
  • Hafford's Saloon, was found at the NE corner of Allen and Fourth Streets
  • Campbell & Hatch's was a Billiard Parlor & Saloon. It was on the North side of Allen Street, between Fourth and Fifth. It eventually became notorious because Morgan Earp was shot and killed there
  • Then there was Thomas Corrigan's Saloon
  • Billy Owen's Saloon was an option
  • Sampling Room Saloon & Bowling Alley, at the SW corner of Allen & Fifth

Which of these Old West Saloons do you think would've been your favorite?



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Other Well-Known Old West Saloons

Throughout the Old West, certain Saloons gained some fame and reputation. Gunfighters, notorious lawmen, and famous outlaws drew headlines relating to events in these establishments. Some of them no longer exist - but their reputation lingers! Others can still be visited today...

The Long Branch Saloon

Long Branch Saloon Opens 1874Long Branch Saloon Opens - 1874
Inside the Long Branch SaloonInside the Long Branch Saloon, Dodge City, Kansas

In Dodge City, Kansas, first built in 1874. It lasted until a fire took it down in 1885.

Chalkley Beeson purchased it in 1878, along with his partner William Harris. Harris designated the name - The Long Branch - after the town where he was from: Long Branch, NJ.

Incidentally, that's the same town where my husband Bill was born (in a hospital long since defunct, crazily called Hazard Hospital!). 

It was a regular popular feature on the television show, Gunsmoke. In reality, many well-known historic people frequented the bar and gambling tables. Such men as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Luke Short and Bat Masterson. Luke Short was an owner when Chalkley Beeson sold his interest to him in 1883.

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White Elephant Saloon

White Elephant SaloonThe White Elephant Saloon

This Old West Saloon was in Fort Worth Texas. It opened in early 1884, in deluxe style. They had a write-up in the local paper for their grand opening - and even invited the local ladies, for it was a leap year Grand Opening!

There was a gambling room on the upper floor. Those who stopped in to play included Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Bat Masterson and Charles Coe. It was located on Main Street, between Third and Fourth. 

It's no longer there, as a fire destroyed it in the 1890s. If you walk by the Morris Building, you can reminisce that it's where the White Elephant once stood.

But it was rebuilt, and relocated shortly thereafter, in 1896. 3 blocks further South on Main Street. Move along to the Winfree Building, right between the Ashton Hotel and Kress Building - and that's where it was. A much more modern version. It didn't last, though - closing with financial issues.

There is a White Elephant Saloon in a different Fort Worth location today.

It's a modern remake, and no relation to this historic Old West saloon. Get even more authentic details: Read More > 


Orient Saloon

Bisbee Brewery Gulch - 1890sBrewery Gulch, Bisbee Arizona - 1890s

In Bisbee Arizona, this mining town is located Southeast of Tombstone AZ. The area of town where the saloons predominated was called Brewery Gulch. Its remnants, and some historic saloons, still remain today. A visit to them still recalls those old times!!

One of the Old West Saloons of the era was called the Orient Saloon. It was one of among 50 others from those old West saloon days. It had a raucous reputation, and attracted many gamblers such as the Dutch Kid, Charlie Bassett and Smiley Lewis. Those were wild times, for sure.


Express St. James

Express St. James Hotel & Saloon, Cimarron New MexicoOld Wild West years of the St. James

In Cimarron, New Mexico, this hotel/saloon attracted a lot of action. Many famous old West lawmen, gunfighters, gamblers and desperadoes spent time there. Buffalo Bill Cody and Black Jack Ketchum traveled through and stopped in.

It was built in 1872 by Abraham Lincoln's personal chef. Today it's a part of the Cimarron Historic District and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can still get a room there, and have a drink at the bar. Look for all the many bullet holes from the Wild West gun-fighting days when you come by!



More Old West Saloons

There are many more Old West Saloons you can visit throughout the Western states.

  • Some have been restored. 
  • Some you just have to use your imagination. And reminisce as you see the sites they occupied
  • And others have now been reworked, updated into another era. Yet still retain some of the "Old West Saloon" look. They provide their histories with photographs and relics of the past. They're placed in the decor - for that old West ambiance!


Still Here Today...

CALIFORNIA

  • Buckhorn Saloon - North Fork, Sierra Nevada Foothills. Near the South entrance to Yosemite, it's been around since the late 1800s. Started by Les Smith, its since had at least 8 more owners through the years. It's now been refurbished and renewed, with a nice new menu too. Locate this Old West Saloon at 32992 Road 222. Call for details: (559) 877-8700

TEXAS

  • Buckhorn Saloon - San Antonio, first opened on Dela Rosa St.in 1881. It's moved 5 times since then, but the last time just down from the original. It still has its first back-bar and many of its historic trappings. Find it at 318 E. Houston Street.

COLORADO

  • The Buckhorn Exchange - Denver, at 1000 Osage Street, the corner of 10th - has been there since it opened on November 17, 1893. There's a ton of history in its walls, and you won't be disappointed in the menu. The upstairs Victorian Lounge is where you'll find the original back-bar made in Germany in 1857.
  • The Board of the Trade - Now known as The Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville. It opened in 1879, at 315 Harrison Ave., on the West side of the road. The bar was shipped by covered wagon from St. Louis MO. Upstairs were the gambling rooms which included Faro and chuck-a-luck. Even during prohibition they endured by maintaining stills outside town for supply, trap doors under the bar to hide evidence, and private booths for customers. In 1963 it took on its present name, with Irish ownership incorporating that heritage, as well.

NEW MEXICO

  • The Buckhorn Saloon - In the small historic village of Pinos Altos, a little north of Silver City. 32 Main Street. The main bar's origin goes back to 1865. The original adobe walls still exist. Other newer features have been added on, such as an expanded dining room. The bar and back bar were made by the Brunswick-Balke-Calander Company and shipped by wagon. This Old West Saloon has plenty of atmosphere. They serve food and drinks!
Buckhorn Saloon - Los Pinos NMBill checks the Menu at the Buckhorn in historic Pinos Altos NM
Buckhorn Back Bar NMHistoric Back Bar at NM The Buckhorn

NEVADA

  • Genoa Bar & Saloon - In Genoa, a beautiful spot at the base of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, 10 miles South of Carson City. Built in 1853, it was called "Livingston's Exchange." In 1884 Frank Fettic bought it - now it was "Fettic's Exchange." Many more owners since then. Quite a well known place, it's attracted other well-knowns such as Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, "Teddy" Roosevelt, Clark Gable, Cliff Robertson, Raquel Welch (she left her bra behind!), Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings & Johnny Cash. It's been a movie set, as well. Including for "The Shootist" with John Wayne, "Till the River Runs Dry" with Ann-Margaret & "Honky Tonk Man" with Clint Eastwood. Visit at 2282 Main Street. Call (775) 782-3870.
  • Santa Fe Club Saloon - In Goldfield, an old mining town where Wyatt Earp & his brother Virgil Earp both lived in the early 1900s. This combo saloon/motel opened in 1905. Drive off Hwy. 95, on N. 5th Ave. - be warned, it turns into a dirt road! It has "off-the-wall" Old West charm, but modern comforts & cold drinks. The beer selection is basic, though. But stop in for a few anyway for the atmosphere! And they do have the hard stuff.
  • Overland Saloon - In Fallon, about 60 miles East of Reno. The saloon is in a historic hotel near downtown. It was built in 1908. Local political leader, George Sherman was its 2nd owner, who made it a true success. Back in the day it was known as the finest place to stay in town. Their rooms have been recently refurbished by the new owner. There's a Basque dining room open for dinner Wed. through Sun. The Saloon is open every day! It's cool that they still have an old-style juke box!
  • J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room - Wonderful, unique, historic place. Go 15 miles South of Carson City to Gardnerville. Hans Nelson moved this 1896 building from Virginia City NV! It began as a dining, saloon & hotel establishment. In 1955 the business was purchased by the Jaunsaras & the Trounday families. The name became "J.T." - the owners' initials - a French Basque establishment. In 1960 the Lekumberry family bought The J.T. and kept the same name. The rooms show the historic character of the Basque pioneer tradition & of the building, itself, which has been restored.
  • Old Globe Saloon - In Carson City, 407 N. Curry St. It's the oldest saloon in town, but in some ways doesn't reflect that. It does attract the local crowd of regulars. Has some history remnants on the walls. But it's been here since 1875, so I'd think it would somehow reflect that a little more. What do you think?
Occidental Saloon, Buffalo WyomingOccidental Saloon in Wyoming

WYOMING

  • The Occidental Hotel & Saloon - In Buffalo, at 10 N. Main St. A popular and sometimes wild, old west saloon. Bullet holes are there as testimony! Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid were guests, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody were also customers. The original 1880 bar-room was quite basic, but finely refurbished in 1908.

Re-Invented...

Lilly Langtry's SaloonThe Jersey Lilly Saloon - Law West of the Pecos

TEXAS

  • Jersey Lilly Saloon - Created in the 1890s, named after the English singer Lillian Langtry. Judge Roy Bean was a man of dubious law accountability. He set himself up as the law West of the Pecos in his saloon and courthouse. He proclaimed himself Justice of the Peace. In naming his saloon, the town forever was established in history and folklore. Today it's a Texas rest-stop along State Hwy. 90. It's not too far from the Rio Grande and the international border.

NEVADA

  • Indian Maggie's - In Belmont, 46 miles NE of Tonopah. This former saloon is being restored by volunteers. From 1867 to about 1901 the building housed the Belmont Courier, the local newspaper. It's currently only open for restoration volunteers, friends and family. But you may be able to see it with an appointment. Check their Website for all the details.
Dayton NevadaThe Union Hotel Saloon
  • Union Hotel Saloon - In Dayton, about 15 miles East of Carson City. The Union Hotel & Saloon was a popular hostelry in the late 1800s & early 1900s, among the state's oldest buildings. Purchased in June 2016 by newlyweds, it had been uninhabited for quite a while. The new owners wanted to transform it into their home. They needed a special use permit to convert it from a hotel to a home. It had a 2-story outhouse, the saloon & 8 small rooms. They'd redone the rooms, as most were only 8x8 ft. So some were transformed or merged. The saloon became their living room. Now it's their own home - so private property.



Long Gone...

Creede Colorado - 1892Creede Colorado - 1892
Holy Moses Saloon, Creede ColoradoHoly Moses! The Saloon is Open 24/7

COLORADO

  • Holy Moses Saloon - Located in Creede, a silver mining boom town in the upper Rio Grande, near source waters. Bob Ford, Bat Masterson and Soapy Smith owned saloons in town. Despite the name of the Holy Moses, a brothel housed soiled doves named the Mormon Queen, Poker Lulu Swain and Timberline. The Holy Moses was one of the very basic old West saloons in town. There wasn't a front door - no need, as it was open 24/7!


NEW MEXICO

  • Buffalo Bar - In Silver City NM. The building & facade are still there. But no hope of it ever reopening. The liquor license has been sold - to CVS! The building's front had safety issues, and the iconic neon sign was removed. On Facebook they even claimed as a dive bar/lounge! Motto was" The Oldest, The Baddest, The Best." 


Iconic Buffalo Bar Sign, Silver City NMIconic Buffalo Bar Neon Sign, Silver City NM
Buffalo Bar Front EntranceBuffalo Bar Front Entrance - Neon Sign Gone & Closed now in 2017

NEVADA

  • Micca House Korral Bar - The building still stands, it's on the National Register of Historic Places. 40 miles North of Winnemucca. It was first built in the 1880s. Besides a saloon, there was also a department store, a post office, and a government office there. In fact, it was like a Mall - for its time! It also at times had the town's courthouse and jail, a doctor's office, a barber shop, a dress shop, a saddle shop, a warehouse, a brewery, a chop house (Old West steak house restaurant), a butcher shop, a bakery, and a hotel. But the bar itself has now been closed for ages! It's currently privately owned. It's been recently opened for a ghost tour in the vicinity of Halloween. The owners seem to be interested in educating the public on its history and current uses. But there isn't too much visible happening lately that we can see. If we get to Paradise Valley we'll definitely investigate this more. But for the moment, it will remain categorized as Long Gone!




References

1 San Diego Union Letter, July 7, 1880



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