TUCSON, Ariz. - There’s a new attraction coming to Tucson’s East Side that will bring together history and Hollywood glamour.
Trail Dust Town on Tanque Verde was built as a movie set. It became a place for modern visitors to sample the old west, and maybe have a meal at restaurants there but it’s about to revive its roots in the movie business.
The Museum of the Horse Soldier, dedicated to cavalry troops is about to become the Arizona Western Film Movieseum, dedicated to the memories and memorabilia of Bob Shelton the man behind Old Tucson Studios when it was where stars like John Wayne made a long list of Western movies.
Shelton’s widows Carolyn says, “John Wayne had this autographed hat from “McLintock”. It wasn't worn in the movie. It was one of the extras to be signed. And I have some wardrobe from “Poker Alice” that was embroidered and given to Bob as a gift from Elizabeth Taylor.
Shelton’s daughter Candace says the museum will also work to share some of the friendships Shelton built as he built Tucson’s reputation as a great place to make movies.
“He and John Wayne were good friends and many funny stories about his time with John Wayne and Paul Newman and people who he really connected with.”
There was a time when almost every show on television had some sort of cowboy or Western theme. Now the challenge is making an attraction like this appeal to people who didn't grow up with all that.
Modern movie technology can help with that.
Moviseum director Matt Welch says, “We're going to have virtual reality where people will be able to put on a virtual reality mask and feel like they're on the streets in Tombstone.”
Old Tucson is closed now through a combination of COVID restrictions and changes in the movie business but Trail Dust Town was the choice for the museum even before Old Tucson shut down. It has a movie making history and it’s much closer to town. Planners hope to have the museum ready for visitors by Summer with an official opening in November.