Apache Death Cave
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Apache Death Cave

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Two Guns, Arizona began and ended as a tourist stop where Route 66 crosses Canyon Diablo west of Winslow. It is also the site of an indian battle that was later fully exploited by the site’s operators and ultimately became part of the highway’s lore.

As the story goes, in 1878, Navajo settlements in north central Arizona became prey to Apache raiders from the south, who would attack and then inexplicably disappear. After one such raid, their hideout in Canyon Diablo, a cave, was discovered by a Navajo scout. After surrounding the cave, the Navajos built a ragin fire at the narrow entrance, which was kept blazing throughout the night. In desperation, the doomed Apaches killed and stacked their horses next to the opening in hopes of blocking the smoke, but by morning all forty-two of the raiders were dead from asphyxiation.

Following the massacre, the Apache raids ceased. Thereafter, Navajos warned pioneers that the land there was cursed, and it is said that those who camped along Canyon Diablo often reported hearing eerie groans and the death chants of dying Apaches carried on the breeze drifting through the canyon.