|Tuesday I got a call from a longtime friend Mary. She wanted to let us know that she had moved to Prescott from Las Vegas 3 weeks ago! Wow, what timing. We were planning to visit Prescott the following morning so we incorporated lunch & a visit with her into our day. We found her new home easily & it was fun to spend a couple of hours catching up. Mary is not a computer 'gal' so isn't able to follow our journal. I'm trying to convince her that she should invest in a computer to help fill her days. She's got too much time on her hands since retiring!
We had hoped to visit friends Tim & Crystal while in the city but our timing didn't work out. They have family in town from Illinois and left for Surprise, Az a few days earlier. But while on the phone with Tim, he recommended we visit Whiskey Row and the Palace Saloon in particular. Great recommendation Tim, we loved it! By the way, we purchased our Sea Eagle inflatable pontoon boat from Tim & Crystal 3 years ago and have enjoyed it so much. One of our best purchases since beginning our fulltime RV'ing. We're looking forward to warmer weather so we can begin fishing and boating soon! If you'd like to check out the various inflatable Sea Eagle models you can check them out here:
Sea Eagle Inflatables
I promise Tim & Crystal will take good care of you and you won't find a better price anywhere else! Make sure and mention that Larry & Lee Ann sent you ok?
Arriving downtown we parked about a block away and finding a Prescott informational sign learned that in 1864 Prescott was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory, replacing the temporary capital at Fort Whipple. The Territorial Capital was moved to Tucson in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenix became the capital in 1889. And, that since 1888 folks have come to Prescott from miles around to see the World's oldest rodeo. They're pretty proud of that around here!
The sign also read that Prescott is home to the historical area known as "Whiskey Row", until 1956 a notorious red-light district. In 1900, a great fire destroyed most of the buildings on Whiskey Row. As legend has it, the patrons of the various bars simply took their drinks across the street to the Courthouse square and watched it burn. At the time of the fire, the entire bar and back-bar of the Palace Hotel was removed to the square by the patrons as the fire approached, re-installing it after the gutted brick structure was rebuilt. (The size of the back-bar is impressive, and appears not easily moved, even by many hands.)
The Palace Bar first opened its doors in September 1877. Although Whiskey Row was known for its many saloons, the Palace was much more than a fancy "watering hole". Men came in to check for notices of work available; it served as an election central for several area political races and cattle spreads; and mineral claims were bought and sold over the bar. The Palace is still the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona and the most well-known and historic restaurant and saloon in the state. In the late 1870's, Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday were patrons of The Palace. Virgil and his wife Allie lived in Prescott where Virgil owned a saw mill at Thumb Butte and was Town Constable. Wyatt and his other brother, Morgan, visited Virgil in Prescott before they left for Tombstone. Doc was on a winning streak on Whiskey Row (possibly at The Palace) where he won $10,000 in Poker. He joined the Earp's eight months later in Tombstone. Bottom line, it's not every bar where you can walk through the original wood swinging doors, belly up to a giant 130 year old bar, throw back a shot of tequila and listen to some honky tonk piano!
If visiting the area you can find Whiskey Row running north and south on S. Montezuma St. Between Gurley and Goodwin St., directly west of the county courthouse. This single city block has been the home of the St. Michael's Hotel and the Palace Hotel since the late 1800's along with other colorful purveyors of night-life. A nice stroll on a beautiful spring day. We eventually made our way across the street to the Courthouse Plaza.
While the courthouse itself has been built, relocated and rebuilt, and built again — most recently in 1916 — the plaza has evolved organically. Beginning in 1879, gravel walks were installed and trees were planted. In 1902, a fountain was added and, five years later, a bronze memorial statue was placed on the plaza. Considered one of the finest equestrian sculptures in the U.S., the statue honors members of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders who gathered at the plaza on May 4, 1898, before heading to San Antonio at the onset of the Spanish-American War. Several other statues have since been added.
More than 170 trees, including 127 American elms, grace the plaza. In addition to the extensive tree canopy, the plaza features large expanses of curbed grass lawn, interlocking pavers, a painted historic timeline, and a historic well and bandstand.
This plaza hosts more than 130 activities annually. Dancing, outdoor movies, concerts and poetry readings are attended by as few as 50 or as many as 600 people each weekday evening during the summer. The plaza is regularly home to joggers, workers on lunch break, dog walkers, tourists (like us!), Frisbee players, and parents pushing strollers.
"Other communities may have courthouses of greater architectural significance and grander displays of colorful plant beds," says Mike Bacon, a community planner with the City of Prescott, "but not all such plazas are so appreciated by its residents, carefully maintained, or so heavily used." We can see why!
So there you have it. Another interesting day trip in the lives of Larry & Lee Ann. We move on to Casa Grande Monday morning. But I believe we're going to make one more run to Sedona before we go. It may be awhile before we're in this area again and we want to take in all of it's natural beauty one more time!