Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear â€Ś and the joys of driving them today AMERICAN ROAD
VOLUME VII NUMBER 2
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VOLUME VII • NUMBER 2 • SUMMER 2009
American Road • PO Box 46519 • Mt. Clemens, Michigan • 48046 • Phone (877) 285-5434 • Fax (877) 285-5434 • www.americanroadmagazine.com
18 LAST STAGECOACH TO DEADWOOD The old Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Road speaks to the wild rustler in us all. Photography by Amy C. Elliott & Fred Pflughoft. Text by Thomas Arthur Repp
36 GREED! … AND THE CITY OF ROCKS Diamondfield Jack thought he’d found his fortune along Idaho’s horeshoe-shaped scenic byway. So ask yourself, “Do you feel lucky?” By Craig & Liz Larcom
48 “TRUTHFULLY” SEEKING JESSE JAMES Missouri’s Jesse James Driving Tour is guaranteed to take you back to the days of the Show Me State’s infamous outlaw. Honest to goodness. By Johnnie V
60 BILLY CLANTON WAS MURDERED! Meet Terry “Ike” Clanton, descendant of the Clantons who fought at the O.K. Corral. He has a thing or two to share about history. Interview.
EDITOR’S RAMBLER “Blood on the Saddle”
FRIENDS IN THE FAST LANE International Auto Show Revs Up and Rolls On. To Tell the Truth: Jesse J Versus Johnnie V. Annie Get Your Gun—And Your Pageant Sash.
10 MEMORY MOTEL Butterfield Stage Motel, Deming, New Mexico. By Johnnie V
12 TUNNEL VISION: NEWS AROUND THE ROAD Driving Mr. Dillinger. National Road Nirvana. Finishing for Fisher. Car Stars. The Shawshank Vacation.
13 PARK PLACE Your Curbside Calendar
32 GRAND OLD US 6 Temperatures heat up at Onset, Massachusetts—currently the home of the World’s Largest Thermometer Collection. By Joe Hurley
47 THINK BIG! World’s Largest Eight Ball, Tipton, Missouri. By Erika Nelson
55 DINER DAYS
44 ONE TO 101 Each year, Gilroy, California, spices up US Highway 101 with the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Go ahead and hold your breath. By Darlene G. O’Connor
56 THINKIN’ LINCOLN New York boasts but one meager mile of Lincoln Highway—but, oh, how that modest stretch of road shines. By Robert Klara
Meers Store & Restaurant, Meers, Oklahoma. By Tony Craig
67 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD Go West. By Thomas Arthur Repp
72 INSPECTION STATION Quixx® Care System, The National Old Trails Road in Arizona, This Is My America, Vazu, Lightload Towels, and more.
68 ON THE YELLOWSTONE TRAIL Lumber baron John S. Owen built his Woodland Hotel to last, and now it’s older than many of the surrounding trees. By John & Alice Ridge
76 ROUTE 66 KICKS!
80 JOHN CLAAR’S HITCHING POST
On Route 66, CSI stands for “Concrete Slab Investigation.” Learn how to track and catch old road segments without a deerstalker hat. By Jerry McClanahan
75 ADVERTISER INDEX
82 AMERICAN CROSSROAD 48
“Blood on the Saddle”
THOMAS ARTHUR REPP Executive Editor & Art Director REBECCA REPP General Manager ALLAN BURNS ROBERT KLARA WILLIAM ZINKUS Editors
hey’ve hauled Big Al away from Critter Country. The enormous Audio-Animatronic grizzly with the ridiculously undersized guitar was plucked from Disneyland’s frontier territory in 2001 along with the rest of the Country Bear Jamboree. Gone is the ursine E-ticket attraction that for decades entertained families from the East. Silenced with it is Big Al’s signature song, crooned by late cowboy star Tex Ritter—and accompanied by some of the sourest notes to stumble out of a string: There was (plink!) buh-lud on the saddle And (plonk!) buh-lud all around!… One thousand miles away—at Deadwood, South Dakota—Big Al Swearengen has sung his last chorus, too—although his exit from the stage was occasioned more as a matter of mortality than mechanics. Back in the late 1870s, Swearengen may have been the West’s most notorious saloon keeper, operating his Gem Variety Theater with a bully’s fist. One might say he was the man who put the blood on the saddle—and he never needed a guitar for backup. I’m often asked by European friends to define the scope of the American West. Where, precisely, lies its prickly heart? I typically tell them to answer the question for me. After all, the American cowboy staked a popular claim in the European imagination long before the Marlboro Man began smoking cigarettes. I sometimes think our friends across the ocean understand the bold outlines and winding nuances of the American West better than do we Americans. I know the West is a landscape herded with contradictions: It’s homespun and charming, brutal and bloody. Inevitably its facts and fictions—like those of the two Als—share but one common word: Big. The sheer size of that target made this issue of American Road a challenge to lasso. Nevertheless, we rode headlong into that Great Corral with keyboards a-blazing. First on the draw: “Last Stagecoach to Deadwood,” in which we retrace the celebrated Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Road. Photographers Amy C. Elliott and Fred Pflughoft lug their lenses through the sagebrush. Craig and Liz Larcom travel Idaho’s City of Rocks Back Country Byway to examine one of the West’s oldest virtues in “Greed!… And the City of Rocks.” Conversely, Johnnie V courts fair play in an unlikely venue—the life of Jesse James—in “‘Truthfully’ Seeking Jesse James.” Finally, we interview Terry “Ike” Clanton—descendent of the Clantons who fought against the Earps at the O.K. Corral. In “Billy Clanton Was Murdered!” Terry challenges the notion that Wyatt Earp and company acted lawfully. He claims they committed a cold-blooded crime. Big. Whenever I consider the Old West, I recall time spent at UCLA in 1988. I met an exchange student from Berne, Switzerland, who asked me how to appeal to American women. I told him to act like a cowboy. From that point forward, he walked around campus like a bowlegged duck, wearing an obligatory ten-gallon hat and introducing himself as “Bob from Texas.” Nobody ever claimed the West was merciful.
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On Our Windshield: Deadwood, South Dakota, after dark. Photo courtesy South Dakota Tourism.
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Last Stagecoach to
DEADWOOD Photography by Amy C. Elliott & Fred Pﬂughoft • Text by Thomas Arthur Repp
n 1877 Dick Deadwood escaped the printed page. The fictional road agent—wearing his signature black buckskin, black hat, and kid gloves—had been threatening to break free from his flimsy binding for some time. The dime novels that showcased Dick’s exploits had captivated the public’s imagination and left America’s youth yearning for fortune in worlds gritty and gruff : Dakota Territory, they called the place. And it was real. At its “CHEYENNE-BLACK HILLS STAGE ROAD” center squirmed an actual town called Deadwood—where hell battled heaven TERMINI: Cheyenne, Wyoming, and with six-shooters, and stagecoaches crawled into town laden with lost souls. Deadwood, South Dakota DISTANCE: Approx. 300 miles Author Edward Lytton Wheeler—the self-proclaimed “Sensational Novelist” who had conceived of Deadwood Dick in a hail of black ink and bullets—knew what he was doing. Wheeler lived in Pennsylvania, but he took his cues from the 1874 Black Hills Gold Rush and its swooning, uncivilized heart. Novels like Deadwood Dick, Prince of the Road wrapped western romanticism in heroic hyperbole and served it up packaged for easy consumption like so many pieces of bubblegum. The public chewed insatiably—and swallowed. Wheeler himself was certainly pleased when neighborhood children pretended to be Deadwood Dick. The nation did a double take, however, when adults began playing the game, and flesh-and-blood Dick Deadwoods began appearing in the Black Hills. One of the first to adopt the identity of the popular pulp hero was Richard Cole—a seasoned stage driver—who had successfully brought the first coach into Deadwood in 1876. Cole was a wary frontiersman who appreciated the value of good shelter. He wore the nickname like a talisman, praying it would ward off highway thugs. His action bore two unanticipated consequences. First, it amused his friends and prompted them to saddle Cole permanently with the less-impressive sobriquet “Little Dick.” Second, it drove the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage & Express line—already introduced in the earliest Deadwood Dick novels—deeper into the American imagination.
ee Davis, better known as Diamondfield Jack, was already in trouble when he arrived in Albion, Idaho, one endpoint of the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway. Sheriff Oliver P. Anderson had finally found him in the territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona, in 1897, and brought him back by train and horse, to be tried for the murder of two sheepmen fifty miles west of Albion. On that trip Diamondfield Jack passed none of the spud fields that visitors encounter today as they travel along Idaho State Highway 77. But as the road approaches the small town of Albion, the potatoes recede in the rearview mirror, replaced by sagebrush and grasslands reminiscent of an old-fashioned Western movie. Indeed, the Old West trauma and drama played out along the byway could provide plenty of fodder for Hollywood. Over a century ago, trails here teemed with tens of thousands of emigrants each year, conflicts with the Northern Shoshoni and Bannock simmered, bandits robbed stagecoaches, and the cattlemen and sheepmen battled over use of the open range. That’s a heap of action for the forty-nine-mile, horseshoe shaped route around the southern end of the Albion Mountains, better known for its abundance of strangely-shaped, immense rocks. Two history panels at Albion’s city park focus on Diamondfield Jack, but while they tell about his famous legal team, they skip the lesson on how much trouble a fellow can get into with his mouth, especially when he abandons hunting for gold and diamonds in favor of more lucrative work as a hired gun. It was a deal Diamondfield couldn’t resist when the Sparks-Harrell Cattle Company— one of the West’s biggest outfits—offered him a generous fifty dollars a month to intimidate the sheepmen who were moving their flocks into traditional cattle country. A gentleman’s agreement had established a “deadline,” but the sheepmen began to disregard it. The foreman’s instructions to Diamondfield were clear: “Keep the sheep back. Don’t kill, but shoot to wound if necessary. Use what measures you think are best. If you do have
to kill, the company will stand behind you. There is plenty of money and backing, and the company won’t desert you regardless of what happens.” So Davis, sometimes with his compatriot Fred Gleason, began visiting sheep camps, occasionally letting a few bullets fly for emphasis. “If the sheep come any farther, you’ll be facing the muzzle of a Winchester,” he told one sheepman. Diamondfield Jack was making the sheepmen mighty nervous, and one day he was looking down the wrong end of a
“CITY OF ROCKS BACK COUNTRY BYWAY” TERMINI: Albion, Idaho, and Oakley, Idaho DISTANCE: Approx. 49 miles
barrel himself, with a sheepman at the other end. Skilled with a gun, Diamondfield shot the man in the shoulder, then skedaddled for nearby Nevada to let things cool down for a while. Also skilled at shooting his mouth off, Diamondfield Jack bragged aplenty in Nevada about his job shooting up sheep camps, exaggerating and telling it differently each time. Then he headed back into Idaho and fired at a sheep camp after dark, with Gleason. As he turned south into Nevada on February 4, 1896, he didn’t realize that someone else had killed two sheepmen earlier that day. Two weeks later sheepman Ted Severe discovered the sheepmen, dead at their camp. Suspect number one was Diamondfield Jack. Once the sheriff had collared Diamondfield and Gleason and brought them to Albion, the county seat in those days, the trials moved ahead, unfolding in a two-story frame building that stands today, boarded up, across from Albion’s city park. Visitors can find the furniture from the courthouse
by CRAIG & LIZ LARCOM AMERICAN ROAD
n July 26, 1881, Governor Thomas Crittenden of Missouri issued a proclamation that led to the death of
one of America’s legendary outlaws: He offered a whopping $5000 reward for the “arrest and delivery” of Jesse or Frank James. Nine months later, Jesse was murdered in his home by fellow gang members who looked to collect the promised gold.
by JOHNNIE V
erry “Ike” Clanton has received a lot of hate mail over the years in his quest to set the record straight regarding one of the most famous shootouts in the history of the American West. Clanton is a fourthgeneration cousin of Billy and Ike Clanton, who were among those pitted against Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the bloody Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. That altercation took place in 1881 at Tombstone, Arizona territory. In movies and TV shows, the Clanton brothers are inevitably portrayed as ruthless thieves who wouldn’t know what to do with a bathtub. Yet beloved actors like Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner have played heroic versions of Earp. (They starred in Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, respectively.) Terry Clanton makes his living as an actor, director, producer, and motor sports announcer. And he bears an uncanny resemblance to his distant cousin Ike. He points to evidence that “facts” about the gunfight are more twisted than a typical tumbleweed. In his opinion, that occurred because Wyatt Earp was the last person alive to tell the tale, among those who took part in the battle, and he engaged in some mighty fine embroidery. In addition to speaking engagements on the topic, Clanton produces and stars in a lively Internet show, Haunted Saloon, which mixes historic facts with fun. He has produced an Audio Book—Wyatt Earp Murdered My Cousin. And he runs “Clanton Days” in Tombstone every November, which includes walking tours, symposiums, and a “Shady Lady” contest. Recently he sat down with American Road to tell his story.
American Road: Why did you decide to investigate what happened at the O.K. Corral? Clanton: When I was a kid, my dad believed that we were related to the Clantons. But my grandfather and his brother Elmer kept telling everybody, “No, we just have the same name, but we’re not related.” I found out later they knew. It would be like finding out you were Charlie Manson’s brother; would you run around telling everybody? Yet my dad kept taking us to Tombstone on every big holiday. Even though I grew up in Southern California, I spent a lot of time there. And I thought it was terrible how my family was being portrayed. American Road: What were Billy and Ike really like? Clanton: Billy Clanton was a nineteenyear-old boy. You grew up fast in those days. But he was still a kid—a big kid; he was tall and thin. He worked on the Clanton Ranch. Ike Clanton was a real character. One of the biggest misnomers from the movies is they always make him out to be some buffalo hunter who spits tobacco and can’t spell. In reality, Ike was a very educated man and could read and write. When he came to Tombstone, he dressed in his best. Nobody said, “Oh, there’s Ike Clanton, that big bad outlaw.” He was simply Ike Clanton—with his little brother Billy—conducting business. American Road: How did the Clantons earn their money? Clanton: The Clantons made money in a lot of ways, because they were buying and selling property. And they ran cattle. They’ve been called rustlers. But they were never arrested for being cattle rustlers. Ike Clanton also had a restaurant near Tombstone. It was called the Star Restaurant.
American Road: That hardly sounds like the type of person to be involved in a gunfight. How did hostilities start? Clanton: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place October 26th, 1881, actually started the night before on the 25th of October. Ike Clanton was in Tombstone eating at a restaurant. He was unarmed like he was supposed to be—you weren’t allowed to carry firearms in town unless you were leaving soon. Suddenly Doc Holliday stormed in and tried to goad Ike Clanton into a fight. Holliday was armed, and he tried to get Ike Clanton to go for a gun so he could shoot him. American Road: What reason could Doc Holliday have for doing that? Clanton: The only motive Doc Holliday had for wanting to kill Ike Clanton involved a stagecoach robbery that had occurred on March 15th of that year. Ike was going to blow the whistle and tell people what he’d been told: Holliday had been involved in that robbery. A few days after the hold-up, Ike had run into Bill Leonard—one of the guys who had been involved with Holliday. He told Ike that Doc had been drunk when they tried to stop the stage. When the stage wouldn’t stop, Doc Holliday opened fire, killing the driver and a passenger. Bill Leonard said if Doc wouldn’t
have been there, nothing would have happened. Nobody would have shot at the stage. American Road: So that explains animosity between Ike and Doc Holliday. But how did the Earps fit into that? Clanton: I really believe that Wyatt and Virgil Earp didn’t want anything to happen. Virgil was town marshal. But the Earps— particularly Morgan—were friends of Doc Holliday. When the confrontation between Ike and Doc happened the night before, the Earps were there. They watched Doc threaten Ike. They could have stopped everything. They could have arrested Doc for carrying a firearm in town, but no: They chose to take Doc Holliday’s side and tell Ike Clanton, “You better arm yourself because the next time we see you, we’re going to kill you, Ike.” The threat was in place the night before the gunfight. American Road: How did Ike react? Clanton: The next morning, Ike was on the street, and he was certainly armed. They’d told him he’d better be or they were going to kill him. Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp buffaloed him—meaning they hit him over the head with the butt of a gun—and then took him to the courthouse and charged him $27.50 for carrying a firearm within city limits. People say Ike was drunk that day. That makes no sense.
he only known photograph of nineteenyear-old Billy Clanton was taken postmortem, after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as Billy [far right] lay in his coffin adjacent to brothers Tom and Frank McLaury. The bodies were displayed in state in the window of a Tombstone funeral parlor while the mining camp mourned. Above the bodies, affixed in the window for passersby to read, hung a sign typical of the anti-Earp sentiment so prevalent in the gun battle’s aftermath. It read “Murdered In the Streets of Tombstone.”
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Read the Editor's Rambler, view the table of contents, and enjoy excerpts from a few articles in the current edition of American Road® magaz...