The Photography Club of Quail Creek shoots it up at Mescal Studios

Robert Thoresen

Mescal Studios is the sister site to Old Tucson Studios but without the fake gunfights, simulated hangings, horse drawn stagecoaches and saloon dance girls. About twenty club members took an early morning walking tour on March 21 accompanied by Frank Brown, the studio’s gun slinging sheriff, caretaker and tour guide. Frank calls home a travel trailer parked behind the corral and livery store. The initial set dates back to 1969 for the movie Monte Walsh (Lee Marvin and Jack Palance). Old Tucson Studios purchased it from the original developer, CBS Productions, soon afterwards. Major westerns following the purchase included Dirty Dingus Magee, 1970 (Frank Sinatra and George Kennedy), The Life of Judge Roy Bean, 1972 (Paul Newman and Ava Gardner), The Outlaw and Josie Wales, 1976 (Clint Eastwood), and Tom Horn, 1980 (Steve McQueen and Linda Evans). Frank also gave extended descriptive analysis of the films Tombstone, 1993 (Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott), and The Quick and the Dead, 1993 (Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio). MGM invested some $200,000 in 1991 for the third season of the TV series The Young Riders (Stephen Baldwin and Josh Brolin), adding new store fronts, second stories to existing buildings and totally new buildings. Each new production has added something new to the Mescal location just as something old tends to fall apart. Mescal is not at all like Old Tucson Studio which is a fully functioning studio. At Mescal Studio site, all utilities are trucked in. One is warned—there are no restrooms, water or food served, so do fill up before or after and empty before you go.

Fourteen members did a repeat visit to the Mescal Bar and Grill for lunch near the entrance to I-10 at North Cherokee Trail. The group arrived about 15 minutes before opening so staff was short for our crowd. Again, we missed out on karaoke with Rockin’ Ron but Karen did an admirable job of holding down the bar as well as waiting tables. The menu features the double xx burger—double bacon and cheese with guacamole. Trip Advisor apparently does not frequently have Benson, Arizona, on its site. It has the Mescal sitting at number 18 of 35 restaurants reported to be in Benson, placed one notch below Denny’s.

The PCQC was formed in 2009 and makes regularly scheduled field trips throughout the year. All Quail Creek residents are invited to the monthly meetings the second Wednesday of the month at the Madera Clubhouse. For current events and further details go to the club’s website at