The Los Angeles Times reports on a private Wild West town in Arizona.....Cowtown Keeylocko: "An odd mixture of the real and the fanciful, this 'town' is technically a working ranch in the middle of the desert. But to its founder it's a cowboy's paradise."
The article, by Nicole Santa Cruz, is about Ed Keeylocko, 79, who is:
the founder of Cowtown Keeylocko, an 80-acre spread with handmade buildings of wood and tin. Founded in December of 1974, it's and located about 40 miles southwest of Tucson, it lies at the end of a bumpy dirt road where a sign greets visitors: "Population 5 — most of the time."The story reminds me very much of the private wild west towns I have visited in Europe, founded by individuals who wanted to "live their dreams."
Technically, it's a working ranch in the middle of the desert, with a Tucson postal address. But to Keeylocko, it's a Wild West town — his town — and folks around this part of the state tend to view it the same way.
The town is an odd mixture of the real and the fanciful. There's a "library" with books, and a barn with real cows, pigs and chickens. But the "general store" is essentially a wooden building filled with stuff that no one would buy.
There's even a cemetery where friends' ashes are buried, and a mesquite tree festooned with various discarded boots. And, of course, there's the Blue Dog Saloon — the main attraction — which feels more like a large barn, with dirt floors and a heavy coat of dust. A weathered green baby carriage hangs from the rafters, though it's not clear why.
For decades, word of mouth has brought Tucsonans to the his ranch for parties, some opting to sleep at on the property campgrounds — if they sleep at all. Producers have staked out the grounds for movies, but usually the only residents are Keeylocko and one or two ranch hands.
There's the private Old Texas Town in Berlin, and of course Pullman City -- which went commercial.
But they also include Halter Valley, in the Czech Republic -- whose founded told me he had been rejected for a U.S. visa five times and had never visited the States.
Sikluv Mlyn, also in the Czech Republic was founded by a man who told me he wanted to created his "own America" -- he went commercial and now has a branch in Slovakia, expanded into a fullscale theme park.
Wild West City outside Boskovice, in the CZ, has also gone commercial. But nearby Beaver City has remained a private Wild West enclave.