View Full Version : Escapule Ranch...

08-17-2009, 08:34 AM
is located a couple miles west of Tombstone on the road to Ed Schieffelin's burial monument. The ranch is slated to be torn down, a demolition permit was approved by Cochise County. A group of German investors are going replace it with their own version of Tombstone. The ranch began in the late 1800's by the great grandfather of Tombstone's current mayor.

In 1903, Burt Alvord, a former deputy under Sheriff John Slaughter escaped from the Jail in Tombstone along with Billy Stiles, and stole horses from the Escapule Ranch to make their getaway.

Burt Alvord
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Burt Alvord, or Burton Alvord (1866-?) is a little known lawman and later outlaw of the Old West, who witnessed the Gunfight at the OK Corral at age 15. He began working as a deputy under Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter in 1886.

Alvord quickly proved to be an able lawman and tracker, assisting in the capture and or killing of several rustlers and outlaws from 1886 to 1889. However, his reputation soon began to suffer when he showed a weakness for consuming alcohol and becoming drunk. Frequenting saloons in and around Tombstone, he began to keep company with outlaws and gamblers, and when Sheriff Slaughter reprimanded him, he quit.

Throughout the 1890s he worked as a lawman in several towns, to include Fairbank, Arizona and Pearce, Arizona. By the turn of the 19th century, Alvord had formed a gang with outlaw Billy Stiles, which also included "Three Fingered Jack" Dunlop. The two began committing armed robberies in the Cochise County area of Arizona. In mid-1899, both Alvord and Stiles were captured, but both escaped shortly thereafter. On February 15, 1900, Dunlop was killed by lawman Jeff Milton during a foiled train robbery attempt in Fairbank, Arizona, in which gang member Bravo Juan Yoas was also wounded, and which would be the start of the downfall of the gang. Later in 1900 Alvord was captured, and taken for holding in Tombstone. Stiles went to visit Alvord, and pulled a handgun, shooting and wounding one lawman, allowing Alvord and 24 others to escape.

Alvord and Stiles again began committing armed robberies, this time while being pursued by the Arizona Rangers. In December, 1903, both Alvord and Stiles were captured, and again they escaped. Alvord decided to attempt to fake their own deaths by using the dead bodies of two Mexican men. It is unknown as to whether they killed the two Mexican men, or exhumed the bodies from graves. Either way, they sent the bodies into Tombstone, with news that it was them who had been killed. However, upon examination of the human remains in the coffins, the Arizona Rangers concluded that the two were still alive.

The Rangers tracked them into Mexico, and trapped them near the village of Naco in February, 1904. In the shootout that followed, both Alvord and Stiles were wounded. Alvord spent two years in prison, being released in 1906. He then traveled to South America, where he was last seen working as a c**** employee in Panama in 1910. His whereabouts afterward are unknown.


08-17-2009, 08:36 AM
Another bit of Arizona history will be torn down


08-17-2009, 08:37 AM
Seems like they should rebuild and repair instead

08-17-2009, 08:38 AM
I guess not


08-17-2009, 08:39 AM
Doesn't seem to be in that bad of condition

08-17-2009, 08:42 AM
Oddly enough, there were no signs of illegals stopping over for respite.
More on that later

08-17-2009, 08:44 AM
3482 Ed's monument is in the distance

08-17-2009, 08:46 AM
A couple of cowboys were riding nearby, I asked if they would mind a few photos.

08-17-2009, 08:47 AM
I'm glad they obliged.

08-17-2009, 08:49 AM
Adds a bit more dimension

08-17-2009, 08:52 AM
I guess the buildings would be a liability

08-17-2009, 08:53 AM
Ghosts of the past

08-17-2009, 08:59 AM
I think this was set up as a dwelling at one time

08-17-2009, 09:01 AM
And this was for general use

08-17-2009, 09:03 AM
Adobe wall, unknown use

08-17-2009, 09:04 AM
Another ghost

08-17-2009, 09:06 AM
Unknown use

08-17-2009, 09:07 AM
The dumping area

08-17-2009, 09:08 AM
More of that

08-17-2009, 09:13 AM
I walked about a mile down the wash, north of the ranch. I found some ancient tools; broken arrowhead, pottery, a hammerstone, and bone fragment.

08-17-2009, 09:16 AM
A little further a vulture keeps watch over my wanderings


08-17-2009, 09:16 AM
And another

08-17-2009, 09:19 AM
Then there was a trestle, the tracks long since gone.
4:10 to Contention City?

08-17-2009, 09:20 AM
Ghost trains every hour on the hour

08-17-2009, 09:22 AM
A little further and yet another abandoned dwelling. Circa, I think, 1960's

08-17-2009, 09:26 AM
Circling back, I came across these stoneworks. Just like some I have seen in the Tortillitas. They seem too low to contain horse or cow. I could not find any sort of artifacts to indicate who made them or for what purpose.

08-17-2009, 09:28 AM
The rockwork created three "rooms".

08-17-2009, 09:30 AM
Just like the one in the Tortolitas, the stonework was located along a substantial wash, the banks of the wash being fortified, for raesons that escape me.

08-17-2009, 09:34 AM
While returning up the wash, something in the shadows of an intersecting drainage, catches my eye.
Buenos Dias, Que tal? Esta Bien? Bienvendidos y adios.

08-17-2009, 09:36 AM
A little further, this is found.

08-17-2009, 09:37 AM
All's well that ends well.

08-17-2009, 11:14 AM
Scene of Alvord's crime?

08-17-2009, 02:44 PM
The Alvord/Stiles gang of misfits helped make southern Arizona a little more lively (& noisy) back in the day.

What a cool find, I've been in that area many times & didn't know about it. I hate to hear that it will be demo'd to make way for some fakery. Some of those folks in Tombstone seem remarkably distant from the few remaining things that make their area notable.

I have seen the rock walls in the Tortolita mts too & have been told they were goat pens.


Norman Johnson
08-17-2009, 04:51 PM
As always, the photo's are wonderful and a nice slice of history to go with them. Too bad the place will be torn down, but you have saved a bit here with this series of photographs.


08-17-2009, 05:18 PM
Super cool Sunrise! Another bit of the vanishing Cochise County! Twenty years from now, our kids will wonder where everything went standing in the strip malls, McMansions and auto-graveyards called freeways.

08-17-2009, 06:54 PM
Interesting ( not the tear it down part however ) . . . looks like it could be made liveable. . . :)

08-17-2009, 08:08 PM
Thanks all!
I asked an archaeologist familiar with the Tortilitas and she said the same thing: goat pens. Joel goes to Keet Seel and all i gets is a lousy goat pen...sigh.

08-18-2009, 11:53 AM
BTW, those shots with the reenactors came out very well.
Good effect.

08-19-2009, 05:11 AM
It looks like somebody cleaned up the inside of the ranch house, as last time I was there, it was littered with abandoned backpacks, diapers, and assorted garbage left behind by some of Mexico's finest. It would be a shame to lose more of our AZ. history and have a German version of Tombstone. What the heck are they thinking?:mad:

08-21-2009, 04:56 PM
Hi Flatiron :D.
Yeah,our...their own version of Sheriff Kaiser:mad:
And,Herr Deputy....
Warum das du tinkin ?
Und,der staadt,Tombstone II ?
I think those investors are probably gonna lose.:rolleyes:
In this case,money talks.....
I do like that one house however.

12-08-2009, 12:58 PM
If it's the same place I'm thinking of, the last I heard was that it was being repaired and planned for a movie set..

12-10-2009, 04:24 PM
No, sadly it has been leveled, according to a liason with the project.

Currently, filming is being conducted at Gammon Gulch near Benson.

12-11-2009, 04:36 AM
Is it the houses right off the road to the left? where there is what looks like a cement lined hole in the ground that's open and fenced around?

12-11-2009, 12:34 PM
Probbably. I just spoke to the contractor and asked him if they found anything. He said there were whisky bottles hidden in the rafters, three wells, a cistern of some sort with rock lined walls, two mine shafts and a cellar that was more or less hidden. Maybe you saw the cellar. They plan on preserving it as part of the "saloon".

I just finished a great bio of Billy Stiles written by Billy's great grandson. Stiles was much more interesting than I had thought, in fact he was probably one of the more intelligent and cunning characters in the history of Cochise County.

12-12-2009, 09:31 AM
Those are some pretty awesome finds! It's so odd that we have seen that place for years and never knew that it contained those secrets! (and so sad that they aren't going to fix up what was already there)

There are a couple of other places near that area that you might know of or if not, you might be interested to see like near those train tracks are a bunch of petroglyphs, and there is another Escapule homestead where all that is left is some rock walls and a well or two

Norman Johnson
12-13-2009, 06:44 PM
What is the title of that biography and is it available from ABE or Amazon?

I just finished Old Time Cattlemen and other pioneers of the Anza Borrego Area, by Lester Reed. It is a very insightful narrative that the writer knows from first-hand experience. I have been camping in the Borrego Valley this winter and plan to be back there a few more times before I start north to the Panamint Valley area in late Feb. and March.

Now I am working my way through Reminiscenses of a Ranger, by Horace Bell about his experiences in Los Angeles in the early 1850's.

Before these, I read The Butterfield Overland Mail, by Waterman L. Ormsby. I do not recommend this account of the first through passenger on the first east to west stage. The guy is not very observant and fills his pages with stuff that only recognizes the magnitude of the trip but not enough of the specific detail.


12-14-2009, 04:22 PM
Though Amazon does not carry it, here is a link to a great site full of dozens, maybe hundreds of books I'd like to read.
Billy Stiles: Chasing the Wind:


Thanks for the tip regards the butterfield book, it was on my list, pero no mas.

12-14-2009, 04:27 PM
"There are a couple of other places ...are a bunch of petroglyphs, and there is another Escapule homestead where all that is left is some rock walls and a well or two"

I am more than a little interested, fire away...any and all places in Cochise County, maybe we ought to make a master list of places we've been and intended travels.

I was born here, moved away and came back, not for the high wages, but for the love of the history and beauty of this area.

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12-18-2009, 09:13 PM
The other place I was talking about that I was told was an old Escapule Homestead (by an Escapule) is if you go down the road towards Shieffelin Monument, the electric substation on the left side, there is a green gate. Go through the gate and keep going past the wash straight and you will start to see the rock wall lining the wash and a capped well in the trees to your left. there are outlines of the foundations and lots of trash stuff and another well. While my husband and I were out there, we found a geocache that scared the crap out of us because we only saw a portion of it from a distance. I found the GPS coordinations on a geosite website
N 31 43.019 W 110 05.332
The cache is called El Diablo.
Let me know if you have any problems finding it.

As for the petroglyphs, they are a little harder for me to explain where they are. Were you on a dirt road that ended by taking a left turn into the wash under the tracks? Send me a message of where exactly you were and I will tell you how to get to them from there
Here is a close up of one of the rocks. As you can see, there is some modern grafitti on this one, but look close and you will see the real petroglyphs. It's kind of weird, because this is just a small grouping of rocks in the wash, but almost every one has petroglyphs in it.