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A Little History Of Whisky Row

On Sunday, May 23rd, 2021, nearly 100 Old West reenactors along with those who honor that era by dressing up and gathering in period-clothing/western apparel convened in the Palace Restaurant and Saloon after closing time.

The reason? To film a portion of a music video for the song “Down to Whiskey Row.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHiq9pDHeb4

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Locally known as the Whiskey Row Historian, Bradley G. Courtney, wrote the song with help from local musical prodigy, Johan Glidden. He enjoyed a fairly successful music career in the 1970s and 80s but stepped away from it in the early 90s to focus on school teaching and earning a master’s degree in history and a doctorate in education.

However, the song is not what he is promoting; it is not the story upon which he wish to focus. Rather, wants to draw your attention to something of which he believes Prescott should be truly proud. The song and the music video are dedicated to those who add to the true west culture belonging to Prescott. 

In 2021, Prescott was named the number one true West town by the very popular and international publication True West Magazine. https://truewestmagazine.com/article/top-10-true-western-towns-of-2021/

As the True West article states, this is in large part due to Prescott groups and clubs who honor the Old West, such as the Whiskey Row Social Club & Historical Society, Whiskey Row Renegades, John Ford Fourth Cavalry, Prescott Regulators and Their Shady ladies, Arizona Territory Society, Arizona Roughriders, and others.

Who are these folks?  These groups consist of members who are veterans of war and others who have served in the military, law enforcement people both active and retired, firemen and women, search and rescue personnel, teachers, real estate brokers and agents, hairdressers, engineers, businessmen and women, artists and actors, entrepreneurs and more. People who contribute and/or have contributed to society and deserve the right to dress up as Wyatt or Sadie or Virgil or Doc or Big Nose Kate or Wild Bill or Calamity Jane, or some character of their own making—whoever they want to pretend to be. We even have a former Las Vegas showgirl, and a countess in our group!

But the bigger story is that these people add to Prescott’s true west culture and represent it proudly to people from all over the state, country, and even the world when they visit our attractive town, Whiskey Row or our museums.

Some people lament that Prescott is not what it used to be, and in some ways that is true and lamentable, but in many respects it is a very good thing. The groups mentioned above try very hard to do their part in making Prescott a true west town, a place worth visiting, and I have personally witnessed thousands of people who appreciate that from all over this land. We lose count of how many pose with us or just take pictures of us in our dress up. Once when my fiancé and I were standing in front all decked out, a passerby asked, “Are you real?”

The Whiskey Row Social Club & Historical Society gather every Friday evening at the Palace in their finest western attire. John Ford Fourth Cavalry joins them the third Thursday of every month. There are times when outsiders walk through the Palace’s swinging doors and their jaws drop because it feels to them like they’ve stepped back into the Old West. I and others do that as well when we stop and look around, even though we’ve been doing it for years now.

The Whiskey Row Renegades are true ambassadors for Prescott as they meet at the Palace every Saturday morning and greet visitors, inside or on the sidewalk, from all over this land.

And these are only a few of the activities these groups take part in.

This past October during Helldorado Days down in Tombstone, three of these Prescott groups very proudly represented Prescott. All three were in the Helldorado Days Parade. The Regulators & Their Shady Ladies, and the Arizona Territory Society put on reenactments downtown on Allen Street, much to the delight of visitors.

Photos courtesy of Blushing Cactus

Stuart Rosebrook—chief editor of True West Magazine and son of Jeb Rosebrook who wrote the screenplay for Junior Bonner (the most famous movie filmed in Prescott, and according to some experts, the best rodeo movie ever filmed)—has recently moved to Prescott with his family. So, this magazine with around a half-million readers, in large part, now originates from Prescott. Other prominent Old West historians have also moved to Prescott, or are planning to, and if not, many make it a point to visit Prescott regularly. I personally know people who have moved to Prescott just to be a part of the Old West groups I have listed. It is a lifestyle of which they want to be part.

https://truewestmagazine.com/article/top-10-true-western-towns-of-2021/

From Brad Courtney who actually instigated and organized the event. The Palace photoshoot was on February 11 before the Palace opened. The groups included were The Whiskey Row Social Club & Historical Society, The Arizona Territorial Society, The Whiskey Row Renegades, Prescott Regulators & Their Shady Ladies, and I believe people from the Western Heritage Center.

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