Okay, so Tucson doesn’t really have anything to do with Barkerville and the Canadian brides collection other than there was a fair bit of mining in the area about the same time as the Cariboo Gold Rush. Silver and copper mostly and gold later on once Arizona opened up a bit more.
So why Tucson? My sweetie and I head south every March to get away from the Canadian winter. Actually, it’s not that we mind winter so much, it’s that Calgary simply doesn’t have a spring! March is dreary, brown and interminable so although we don’t do the full on snowbird thing, we do spend 5 or 6 weeks touring the southwestern U.S. to get away from it. We don’t plan anything other than we know we’ll hit the I15 which is a straight run south for us. Usually the road is pretty clear but we hit a snow storm this year in Montana.
Once we reach Las Vegas, we sit and thaw out for a few days then start watching the weather to decide where to go next. It was a cold spring everywhere this year so we drove further south than we usually do and ended up in Oro Valley, on the northern outskirts of Tucson. Tucson is a great spot, with lots of interesting things to see and do plus it’s not a mega city like Phoenix and area which suits us perfectly.
We tend to visit railroad museums wherever we go and Tucson was no exception. The original train station is right in the heart of the city and has a small museum plus a vintage steam locomotive.
Why railroad museums? My husband is a model railroad enthusiast and of course I love any kind of history so win win! Anyway, you always discover something new when you’re out and about and imagine my surprise to discover that Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday shot and killed a fellow by the name of Frank Stilwell in revenge for the death of Wyatt’s brother Morgan. Where? In Tucson’s train depot! A bronze statue commemorates the event. That worried look on my face? Those fellows have rifles pointed at me!
Of course I’d heard of both Earp and Holliday which is why it surprised me to learn they’d been in Tucson all those years ago. Little tidbits like that really bring history to life for me and as I stood on the railroad platform, I could just imagine the men laying in wait for Stilwell. I could imagine the horrified gasps and whispers of onlookers, the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, the dry smell of dust, and the slowly spreading crimson stains on Stilwell’s clothes. (You can read more about it here: https://www.historynet.com/stilwell-shooting-near-tucson-depot-called-quick-vengeance-murder.htm)
I did the same thing the various occasions I visited Barkerville. I wandered the wooden sidewalks and imagined the town as it might have been 150 years ago. I imagined the streets crowded with wagons, mules and cattle, the smell of wood smoke, the clang clang of the black smith’s hammer, the thump of boots on the walkways, the shouts of joy from miners who struck it bit, and the sobs and groans from those who didn’t.
Anyhow, as a writer of historical romance and fiction, my goal is to bring history to life for my readers. I try and envision life as it might have been for my characters, a kind of time travel if you will. If I can take you back to a different era, then I feel I’ve accomplished my goal.
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