Arizona has some strange street names that have been known to raise a brow or two. In fact, it’s a topic
we’ve covered in an article last year. Today, however, we’re going to take a look at one street that really takes the cake when it comes to local oddities that also inform us of a town’s checkered past: Bucket of Blood Street in Holbrook.
Holbrook is known these days for its unconventional attractions that helped make Route 66 a prime vacation destination. Petrified wood, dinosaurs, novelty hotels, and other roadside attractions are sprinkled throughout the town creating a unique atmosphere. However, well before it was ever known as Happy Holbrook, the town had a much more seedy atmosphere.
After the town was founded in the early 1880s, Holbrook quickly became a ranching town and one of the first Arizona stops for the railroad. Along with cattle came cowboys and they were a rougher bunch than is usually depicted in popular media. Rustlers, gang members, outlaws, and ranchers all living in the same area eventually led to a number of skirmishes, gun fights, and other battles in the area. This led to the town earning a reputation as one “too tough for women and churches.”
Image from Google Maps
The old Cottage Saloon, located on Central Avenue, led to the infamous street name change. The saloon—a haven for locals, ragtag cowboys, and other ruffians—saw its fair share of gunfights and fistfights. This included one instance where two patrons attempted a drunken target competition on a painting (they both missed their target by inches).
However it was in 1886 that Holbrook saw its bloodiest year. According to some sources, the town had more than two dozen deaths that year alone, a number that sounds small but actually amounted to 10% of the town’s population.
Image from Google Maps
Sometime during that year, a fight broke out in the Cottage Saloon (seen above). Nothing really out of the ordinary, as it had origins in a rustling dispute between rival cowboy groups. While the details over exactly what happened are hazy, the argument ended in a gun battle of unbridled violence that had not been seen in the little town before or, dare I say, since. Some witnesses claimed that the fight ended in brutality so severe that it seemed as though a
bucket of blood were spilled on the saloon floors.
The bloody battle held a heavy influence on the town. The saloon later changed its name to the Bucket of Blood Saloon, which continued to operate for several more decades until it was eventually boarded up. The section of Central Avenue that leads to the saloon and old train depot was renamed for the bloody even and is recognized as one of the strangest street names in existence. You can still walk the dusty road today and see a portion of the town that often goes unnoticed.