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Gammons Gulch: An old west town with only two residents

Posted at 10:20 PM, Nov 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 00:20:25-05

When John Wayne was filming Rio Bravo at Old Tucson in 1959, there was a little boy behind the scenes watching the old west come to life. Now, nearly 60 years later, the boy is a man who still loves the magic and has made some of his own.

Hidden in the rolling hills of Cochise County north of Benson, an Old West town has grown ever so slowly over the decades. It is a town with only two residents, Jay and Joanne Gammons.

The two have always loved the old west, but most old towns have been torn down. So, Jay and Joanne constructed a town of their own, piece by piece, and building by building, until today, it is known as Gammons Gulch.

They have collected and received donations of numerous historical items over the years, including an original telegraph pole and an old flour mill from the 1800s.

With a setting like this, movie producers soon came calling. The Gammons say over 54 movies and at least six music videos have been filmed in their town.

Rex Allen, Jr. is the latest to make a music video. Joanne surprised him with an old radio, which they had acquired. It was the same radio Rex and his father had listened to way back when. That is just one example of the little treasures to be found in the gulch.

"That's the badge that Dean Martin wore in Rio Bravo," Jay Gammon said. "He gave that to my father when the movie was over, said I want you to have that."

Jay's father was John Wayne's bodyguard during Rio Bravo, which is why Jay was able to watch the filming at Old Tucson.

That's where Jay's dream to build his own movie set began. Today, it is still a work in progress.

"This place will never be finished," Jay said. "Thank God we've got some kids that will take over this place after we're gone. I'd rather burn it to the ground than make it an amusement park. It needs to stay like this."

If you or your group would like a tour of Gammons Gulch, visit: