On the way to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, our bus tour stopped for lunch at the small town of Seligman, Arizona (link to Goolge Maps). Disney fans may recognize Seligman as the inspiration behind the town in the movie ‘Cars’.
My first impression, as I alighted from the bus, was that I’d landed in a post-apocalyptic town. Apart from the bakery/restaurant, a gas station and a few buildings across the street, there wasn’t a man or woman, a car or a house in sight. As any modern human being with a mobile phone and internet would do, I Googled the population of Seligman. Not surprisingly, the population of Seligman as of 2017, was only 471. For a moment, I wondered what it would be like to live in such a small town. Would I enjoy the close-knit community or go insane from boredom…
My hypothetical musings were interrupted by the tour guide shouting that we had 20 minutes at the stop. Tired and hungry from the bus ride, I made my way straight to the bakery to get myself some cake, which the tour guide had praised as award-winning. As I was one of the first ones in line, I bought my cake pretty quickly and still had 15 mins left to explore my surroundings.
I stashed the scrumptious-looking generous slice of the Black Forest cake in my backpack to have later on the bus and crossed the street to check out the vintage-looking buildings. To my surprise, as I got closer, the buildings were just storefronts and not actual stores…
There were 5 storefronts in total. There was a Livery, a “Tonsorial Parlor” which is a complicated way of saying “a Barbershop”, a hotel, a gun shop, and a Wells Fargo Store. I had no idea what a Livery meant. A kind reader and friend on Instagram informed me that a Livery would board horses for owners but they also had horses for ‘rent.’ After the invention of cars, these stores, as expected, went out of use. Thank you to Nancy for giving me a brief lesson in American History.
A Territorial Jail
These storefronts were definitely interesting but what caught my attention immediately was the small wooden cabin with the words “JAIL” written in bold letters. On entering the Jail, I found there was just one jailcell with a single grubby bed. The door to the Jail cell was open. So, of course, I had to go in and take some crazy shots and indulge in my usual shenanigans. Here’s the proof of my silly behavior. Maybe I should’ve opted for a more somber expression for a more realistic effect, but it was hard to control my laughter.
Once I got out of Jail, I stopped to read the signboard outside. The signboard detailed the “History” of the place. It said,
At one time, this 1860 Territorial Jail, held such notorious outlaws like Seligman Sam, Three Finger Jack, James Younger and many more. In 1866, four Indians escaped by tunneling from this small cell to the OK Saloon. Four days later, they were dead after a shoot out with Marshal Carl, ‘Curly’, Bane.
In my opinion, it read like a plot from an Old Western and I wasn’t wrong. Wikipedia informed me that the jail and the stores of Seligman Depot are not historical buildings but were put there to attract tourists by the RoadKill Cafe owners. What a great way to educate and have fun at the same time! Don’t you agree?
Speaking of the RoadKill Cafe, you can find the restaurant right beside the jail cell and the Seligman Depot. This has a funny story to it. As we neared the lunch stop, the tour guide on our bus joked that the Roadkill Cafe served actual roadkill. Their specialty was raccoon soup. The joke went right over my head. In my defense, our tour guide was pretty bad at jokes. All along the journey, she cracked many jokes and hardly got any laughs. Anyway, I didn’t recognize this as one of her jokes and thought this was actually true.
I didn’t have time to check out the Roadkill Cafe as the stop at the Seligman Depot was just 20 minutes long. After I returned home, I posted on my picture on Instagram telling my readers that the cafe actually served roadkill. How I wish I had done some research before posting this information… To my embarrassment, the son of the owner of Roadkill Cafe happened to read my post. He informed me that the cafe didn’t actually serve roadkill but the standard American fare. The items on the menu were given funny names just as a gimmick! I immediately updated my Instagram post to correct my mistake. You can see my conversation with the owner’s son here.
So, if you visit Seligman Depot on the way to the Grand Canyon, I would recommend you check out the Seligman Depot and the Roadkill Cafe. I, for one, owe it to the Roadkill Cafe owners to make a stop there, the next time I visit. For people who are curious about the Grand Canyon tour I took from Las Vegas, here’s a link to the bus tour. The tour is long (approx. 12 hrs) but a worthwhile day trip to take from Las Vegas.
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