Historical Walking Tour with ‘Cowboy Guide’ Walt Shields

Cowboy historian Walt Shields tells of Tucson under four flags. (Photo by Elisabeth Wheeler)

Elisabeth Wheeler

SaddleBrooke hiking guide Walt Shields grew up spending time on his father’s farm and ranch west of Tucson. He learned to ride a horse at an early age and later, as a teenager, to wrangle cattle. Walt experienced the City of Tucson through the 1950s, participating in the rodeo parades and graduating from Tucson High School in the 1960s. He enjoys dressing up as a cowboy historian and guiding historical walks in Downtown Tucson.

In January, 14 SaddleBrooke hikers rode the streetcar from the Mercado to join Cowboy Walt on the 3.5-mile Turquoise Trail. Starting at the historic Pima County Courthouse, Walt told the rich and colorful history of Tucson. Hikers passed buildings and monuments that highlight important events in Tucson’s history.

The Barrio Viejo district has many colorful Sonoran row houses currently under renovation. Near Hotel Congress, Walt told the dramatic story of the capture of Dillinger and his gang in Tucson in 1934. At the train station, he entertained the group with his colorful description of the gunfight in which Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday shot Frank Stillwell and left him dead on the tracks.

The tour ended at the Fox Theatre where everyone admitted to having developed a hearty appetite. After riding the streetcar back to the Mercado, hikers enjoyed traditional Mexican street tacos together. This was a fun learning experience, especially for the newer residents of Arizona!