The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.
By Stacey Gregory
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves Tombstone more than Sunny Quatchon. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she arrived in Mesa, Arizona, around 1986, moved to Sierra Vista in 2005, and found her sweet spot in Tombstone in 2010. She discovered The Town Too Tough To Die while searching for a vintage dress to match her handcrafted millinery (women’s apparel for the head).
“I’m a re-enactor, so I came to Tombstone to have an 1880s Victorian dress made. When the shopkeepers saw my bonnet, they asked if I would sell them in their store, so that was the start of me in Tombstone,” said Quatchon.
Today, she keeps busy as a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Visit Tucson, volunteers for the City of Tombstone marketing department, and works with the Arizona 80 Foundation promoting local attractions along 72 miles from Benson to Douglas on Historic Highway US 80.
“I’m far too busy doing tours to make beautiful hats anymore,” she said. “I am a step-on tour guide for the tour buses that come into town from places like Tucson and Phoenix. And besides that, I also show international writers and travel agents from the Arizona Office of Tourism around Tombstone and our Cochise County, the Land of Legends.”
Quatchon loves to dress in her vintage clothes and share the wonders visitors can explore in Southern Arizona’s Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas... and also the enchanting nearby Sonoran cities of Agua Prieta, Naco, Cananea, and Nacozari, Mexico.
Follow Quatchon Around Tombstone
Here, she shares some of her favorite attractions. Tombstone is known for the O.K. Corral, the legendary gunfight site, but there’s so much more to see and do there. Quatchon’s favorite is the Good Enough Mine Tour, a walking tour of an authentic 1880s silver mine that now includes an added dining experience called the Toughnut Dinner Theatre.
“The tour actually has four different levels so visitors can explore depending on how much of the stairs and climbing they want to do,” said Quatchon. “At the new dinner theater, you can go deep into the heart of the mine, sit on a dynamite case, have your dinner, and be entertained.”
The famed Oriental Saloon not only features family-friendly indoor live gunfight shows daily and live music every weekend to complement the full-service bar, but it also has electronic bingo Wednesday through Sunday, a big draw. Quatchon thinks it’s because people love to play electronic machines!
She also likes to show visitors the exciting Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, plus the Bird Cage Theatre and Old Courthouse State Park museums. Her other favorite Tombstone gem is the only Gothic Revival adobe church in the world—Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church at 3rd and Safford Streets.
“It’s the oldest Protestant church in Arizona, built in 1882 by Endicott Peabody with financial help from Wyatt Earp, who helped Rev. Peabody hang the classic silver oil lamps from the high ceiling. Tombstone has so many ties into history, and I love taking the tours to Saint Paul’s,” she said.
Follow Her Through Southern Arizona
Quatchon’s tours do not end in Tombstone. Along Old Highway 80, she likes Benson, Arizona, which caters to the RV crowd with more than 1,200 RV sites. It’s the Gateway to Cochise County and is home to Karchner Caverns State Park. Tip: make your reservations ahead of time for the Kartchner cave tour!
She enjoys Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tours too. Guests don a hard hat, miner’s headlamp, and a yellow slicker before boarding a train to head underground. The Copper Queen Hotel has entertained guests and ghosts since 1902 and is filled with Edwardian-era decor, Art Nouveau antiques, grand pianos, and Tiffany chandeliers.
“And then when we get down to Douglas, oh my goodness. The lobby of the 1927 Gadsden Hotel is priceless, all white marble and Tiffany stained-glass windows,” she said. “Downtown Douglas is being refurbished as we speak, and soon will be the largest Dual Port of Entry in the country.”
Quatchon, looking the part in her vintage clothing, is an absolute magnet when promoting her True West town at many important tourism conferences.
“Whether it be Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, or Douglas—I like to stay with my tours as much as I can so that when we get to our destination, I can answer any questions and just be a good hospitality person wherever we happen to be,” she said.