Just outside the town of Tombstone, Arizona are two hills. In Spanish, they were called Dos Cabezas, or two heads, and became signatures of the land.
When Tombstone began to rise in the desert, as with many mining towns of the west, a village called Dos Cabezas also arose. It began with a single barber shop, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a small hotel, a brick yard and a brewery. There were about 300 citizens in the town – and that didn’t change much over the years. The town, originally, didn’t have serious mines to attract inhabitants. It was a watering hole for stage lines running through southern Arizona. Ewell Spring was the only drinkable water west of Apache Springs, so it became one of the most important stage stops across Arizona to handle Butterfield-Overland and Wells Fargo stages.
It was only when Tombstone began to attract attention that Dos Cabezas took on a new life. The silver mining rage spilled over to the little town. Silver and gold were discovered in 1878, but the finds didn’t match the lodes found in Tombstone. Suddenly, the town had three saloons and a stamp mill for gold ore – and the population grew. Some of the richest mines on the gold-bearing ledge near the town were the Silver Cave, Greenhorn and Murphy. Shafts seldom reached 100 feet below the surface and the ore was never rich in content.
Pony Express riders used to stop in Dos Cabezas to change mounts on the route from El Paso to Tucson.
In Utah, when the mining camps adjoining the main silver strikes began to draw prospectors, miners, merchants, saloon keepers, and “ladies of the evening”, the other mines in the same districts or adjoining districts, also drew folks to their camps. So, Silver Reef had Leeds, Frisco had Newhouse, and Eureka had Silver City. Tombstone had Dos Cabezas.
While Tombstone was known for its rowdiness, it was nothing compared to Dos Cabezas. Even though the town was a lot smaller than Tombstone, this camp was also a hell-raising spot for prospectors, miners and others, but in addition it attracted rustlers – especially Mexicans from across the border who frequented the ranches of Arizona and hustled cattle across the border to safety. Because of this lawlessness and the accompanied problems, Dos Cabezas was a haven for all kinds of riff-raff.
Still, the town had its symbols of decency. There were regular family homes scattered about, a school that served all grades, hotels of fairly acceptable respectability, merchandise establishments (heavily barred at night), and a newspaper to report the goings-on in town – both good and bad. The saloons did a robust business every night.
Unlike many ghost towns of the west, Dos Cabezas never completely died. It continued into the 20th Century as a mining town, transportation center, and “fun town” for personnel stationed at nearby Fort Bowie. An Arizona State highway, 186, passes next to the town, and travelers who slow down a bit can still see houses in the townsite, the stage station built by the National Mail and Transportation Company in 1884, the old post office, and various buildings still standing. But, it’s a lot quieter in Dos Cabezas than it was in the 1870s and ‘80s.