Feb 1 – 15, 2017 “Gammons Gultch” Benson, Arizona
Jay Gammons, the founder and our friendly tour guide, greeted us at the gate with a happy smile and immediately started with his jokes. He is very knowledgeable about western movies and loves to show guests around his historic “western town” that he has built himself. You are immediately drawn into the past with wonderful old west buildings lining the main dirt road. It’s not a huge movie set but you don’t really need one to see the past here.
You get the impression and feeling of being transported to a different time and place. Rather like a time machine….. it is without a doubt Jay makes it a real experience.
Because Gammons Gulch is a working town and may be closed for filming or other events, it is best to contact the Gammons before arriving.
Jay, was previously in the movie industry, and even acted in some westerns. Jay’s father went to work for Pima County as a Range Deputy where he would also serve as Security for movies when they filmed in the area. His father eventually became John Wayne’s personal body guard when Mr. Wayne worked in the area. As a boy, Jay would accompany his dad and occasionally would be an extra in the movies. Jay has appeared in films such as Rio Bravo, McLintock, El Dorado and many more. Part of his tour is telling you about the famous stars he has met and worked with, such as Pete Coyote, William Stockley, John Wayne and Alyssia Milano.
He liked some of the movie people, didn’t care for others, and doesn’t mind telling you which is which (can you guess whom he liked — Barbra Striesand or Sam Elliott?). Jay is perfect and it is his running commentary for the tour that makes it great fun.
Jay played the honky tonk piano and old-time banjo as well as the harmonica for us while we were there. He was really good, he had us stand outside and listen to the piano in the street, which takes you back to the 1800’s.
Jay walked us to each building and if you love antiques you will absolutely be amazed at The Gulch. Jay can tell you the history of each and every piece. He’s got several antique cars, old mining equipment and lots of movie memorabilia. After the tour Jay let us take all the time we wanted to take photographs and just relax, in the beautiful high desert.
There are old cars, a black smith shop, Sheriffs Jail, with a hanging tree out back, Mercantile and Saloon, the Grand Hotel where Jay and his wife live. He has even built a miners house and mine up on the hill above the town.
hanging tree and jail cell
The experience is wonderful, Jay makes it extra special with his smile, jokes and so much information that you forget half of what he has told you. You get to see so many things that you only see in photos and movies these days. This place has been the site of numerous movies and is an active location for westerns even to this day….
none working mine
Gammon’s is worth the 12 mile drive from Benson, if you want a better experience than fake western towns. These are real stores and are not just store fronts but the entire buildings. The black smith shop is a workable shop with so my items it boggles the mind.
Warning: Drive the 35 mile speed limit going through the little town right before it. I guess allot of movie crews have gotten plenty of tickets their first day driving to it. Jay has also gotten a speeding ticket.
Well that’s our take on “Gammons Gultch”. Thanks for coming along with us and come on back and visit the “Rovers” as we do a little exploring in Tucson, Arizona.