2015 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLETpeople archive
People Archive Photo
© Joel Grimes

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.
Model Citizen
Jay Gammons is into replicas. That's why he's spent 30 years working on Gammons Gulch, which is a dead ringer for an Old West town and mining camp.

By Maggie Kielpinski

Pomerene Our "shortcut" to Oracle via the tiny town of Pomerene might be serendipitous — what with the cloudless cerulean sky, wide-open above the cottonwoods and willows along the banks of the lazy San Pedro River, all framed by the Little Rincon Mountains. Curiosity has led us to Gammons Gulch and our chance discovery of six feet of restless energy: Jay Gammons. Here, we meet him and see his dream, a replicated Old West town and mining camp known as Gammons Gulch.

Visitors are rare midweek, but Gammons volunteers a tour. Outside the saloon, a hitching post stands ready, and an old ginger cat peers down at me from the roof. Across the street in the filtered shade of a mesquite tree is a water trough and pump.

As our guide leads us down the boardwalk, the hollow echo of my boots taps out the rhythm to the lyrics of Gammons' commentary, an intimate anthology of his artifacts and buildings. Not just a gaggle of false storefronts, each building is filled with authentic items, the result of 30 years of foraging.

Our tour starts at the saloon, which boasts a carved mahogany bar Gammons discovered in Jerome. At the adobe blacksmith shop, antique tools stand ready to shoe a horse or mend a broken wagon wheel. The back- door of the jail has been recycled from the old Tombstone jail; the cell lock is from the Yuma Territorial Prison. And through the rear window, the view of a lone mesquite bush banishes any idea of escaping into this forbidding terrain. The mercantile, apothecary, barbershop and telegraph office are all painstakingly staged with period artifacts, including a water-stained letter that carries the Pony Express logo.

Back at the saloon after our tour, Gammons entertains us with a rousing rendition of Stephen Foster's Ring, Ring the Banjo. The metallic sound of piano conjures bawdy images of Saturday night in Gammons Gulch. The only things missing are whiskey and women.

Clearly, the streets aren't paved with gold, but Gammons is living his dream. "The place is getting more popular since they paved the road," he says. "One day I did the tour 37 times. That was a Budweiser night, and I don't even drink." Gammons Gulch is quirky, a labor of love and a unique replica. But more than that, Gammons' enthusiasm and passion are inspiring — he embodies the ideals and drive upon which the West was founded.

>> Back to People Archive

Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]


Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

Travel GuidesThere's so much to see and do in Arizona. Let our online travel guide be your one-stop resource for planning your next Arizona adventure... [more]

site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

© Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.