STOMPING GROUNDS: Old West awaits, practically in your backyard

By DALE VILLEBURN OLD COYOTE

Polish your boots, straighten your bolo and bust out those Wranglers, because this is Trail Dust Town and you’re re-entering the wild west. Well, about as close as you can get without leaving the Tucson metropolitan area.

Trail Dust Town is located on Tucson’s east side at 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. Start off with the train ride around town. A haunted cemetery, Polly Anna Park, a Native village and a decrepit mine shaft are just a few of the sights along the track.

Stop by Polly Anna Park. You’ll find a carousel and a Ferris wheel for all ages. Rides cost a wooden nickel ($2.50) for tykes over 3 years old.

A Trail Dust Town sign greets visitors at the Polly Anna Park entrance on the southwest side.
The Old West destination offers activities ranging from a stunt show to a haunted tour.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

A dozen different activities can entertain all types of folk. Catch the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleroes Wild West Stunt Show, full of daring feats and booming pyrotechnics, for just two wooden nickels ($5).

Visit the shooting range if you have an itchy trigger finger afterwards. It takes quarters, and the rifles need to be sighted, but you might enjoy a jaunty tune while you work on your aim.

Pop into the general store for some novelty trinkets and toys. Or, you can stroll the street and take old-timey photos with outfits and props throughout the town.

HORSE SOLDIER MUSEUM

The Museum of the Horse Soldier is the newest addition to the property and truly is one of Tucson’s hidden gems.

Featuring more than 2,000 pieces of genuine American military history, it has everything from uniforms to swords to cannons.

According to museum director Rae Whitely, “Everything behind glass is authentic.”

The gallery also displays the only surviving uniform from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The rest were destroyed on an official burn order.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children. Ages 6 and under are free.

FRIGHTFUL FUN

is it time to put some fright into your night? Bill Delfs, the proprietor of Ravenhearse productions, recounts more than 40 instances in their less-than-two-year stretch in which adult patrons have been scared enough to lose control of certain bodily functions.

Don’t be shy. Ravenhearse is a family haunt that operates year round and offers tour choices that can accommodate a variety of health issues. The green tour, yellow tour and red tour get increasingly frightening.

The green tour is acceptable for all ages, while the red tour is for the utterly fearless.

A tour can run 15-45 minutes, depending on how long you can last. They’re available Thursday-Sunday, and cost $5.

Youngsters can enjoy an old-fashioned carousal ride for $2.50 in Polly Anna Park.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

GETTING HUNGRY?

If you swing by the Dakota Café, you might run into general manager Juan Figueroa.

The restaurant has strong customer loyalty, and Figueroa will try his best to make you feel at home.

“It’s mostly regulars, people who have been coming here for 30 years,” he said. “I like to treat everyone like family.”

Pay attention, Pima students. If you whisper the secret code “dakota cats” to your server, you’ll get 20 percent off your bill.

If you have a serious hunger, head into Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and fill your belly with its 30-ounce T-bone steak, “The Big Cowboy.”

Don’t come in your best dress, however. Pinnacle Peak has a strictly enforced “no ties allowed” policy. You can see what others have lost, with hundreds of ties cut from the necks of patrons hanging from the rafters.

Save room for dessert and stop by the Chocolate Depot to pick up some homestyle fudge and pastries. Stock up on oldfashioned candy, or a three-foot gummy snake for the week.

There’s plenty more to discover at Trail Dust Town, and it’s a great way to support small, local businesses.

A farmers’ market is open each Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. There’s a banquet hall available to rent, an art gallery to visit and plenty of interesting characters.

For more information, visit traildusttown. com or call 296-4551.

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