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Friday, October 4, 2013

Wild West Photo Friday: Hotel in Contention, Arizona Territory, 1880

When I started working for Gadling, the editor interviewed me as a way of introducing me to the readers. One of his questions was what was my worst hotel experience. I answered, "Oooo, tough one. The Peruvian hotel with sand in the halls and no working bathrooms? The British bed and breakfast where the owner walked into our room without knocking? The Pakistani flophouse with the junkie staggering around the courtyard at all hours? I really can't decide."

At least I didn't have to stay in this place. This was the one hotel in the dusty mining town of Contention, Arizona Territory, which sprang to life in 1879 when silver was discovered there. It became one of the Wild West's many boomtowns until an earthquake a few years later made the mines flood. Now all that's left of Contention are a few weathered foundations and an overgrown cemetery.

During those few years of life, Contention had its share of shootouts and craziness. I wonder what it was like to stay in this little adobe hotel, hearing the drunken miners carousing outside your window after a long day underground? Did you have to contend with fleas and bedbugs, or just the usual Arizona problems such a cockroaches, scorpions, black widow spiders, and rattlesnakes?

Ah, the good old days, when going to Arizona was still considered adventure travel!


  1. Interesting thoughts. It might have seemed great to those who slept on the trail all the time.

  2. I lived in Arizona - I would've feared scorpions the most.


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