The city of Tombstone, Arizona has been lauded as a tourist town with a Western history — one of the last standing remnants of the American Wild West. Of course, I have visited Tombstone on many occasions, usually to escape the brutal Phoenix heat of summer. It offers plenty of attractions for tourists including: gunfight shows, ghost tours, regular walking tours, underground mine tours, old-time photo studios, and more. While Tombstone has a rich history as a silver mining hub during the mid to late 1800s, its population has hovered around 150 people or less since the 1930s, leaving tourism the main focus of the town.
Almost 300 miles north of Tombstone, another popular attraction (and summer escape) is the Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, Arizona. This structure was created by the Singua people between 1100 and 1425 AD. It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings on the continent, and is a magical sight to see. The American Antiquities Act of 1906 declared it a national monument, seizing it for the federal government. As a site of the National Park Service, there are plenty of opportunities for grade school field trips and education about the plants, animals, and archaeological finds at Montezuma Castle.
For the project, I am proposing that I would examine reviews for each site on Google Reviews and Yelp. With one site being marketed as a tourist attraction with fun and a little bit of history, and the other being owned and operated by the National Park Service, I want to explore the differences between the reviews of both of them. Tombstone has been heavily commercialized and visitors are expected to have an “experience” and to get lost in its spectacle. How would this compare to the reviews of a formal historical site? Would there be a large difference? What does the general audience for both take into account? I think examining these would answer some important questions about the commercialization of the Wild West in comparing a mostly white-settled town like Tombstone with a historic site that was created by indigenous people of Arizona over 600 hundred years ago.