Billiard Saloon/Bourbon and Whiskey Bar


When we made a commitment to a lot in Payson Arizona, and began to plan our home, I knew I wanted a western bar and billiard room as a part of our home.  Payson is a well-kept secret.  It is 70 miles northeast from Scottsdale, Arizona.  The drive from Scottsdale is spectacular.  One goes from the desert to a town at 5,000 feet and is surrounded by the tall ponderosa pines of the Tonto National Forest.  The town was founded in 1882 as a gold mining and lumber mill town.,_Arizona.  It is a true cowboy town with the oldest continuous rodeo which was first held in 1884.  Zane Grey, the prolific author of western novels in the early 1900s, spent summers in Payson in the 1920s.

While not as well known, like the shoot-outs in Tombstone, Payson was at the center of the longest feud and killing in our nation’s history lasting over 10 years with the last person being shot near Scottsdale Arizona.  From Wikipedia: “The Pleasant Valley War, sometimes called the Tonto Basin Feud, or Tonto Basin War, or Tewksbury-Graham Feud, was a range war fought in Pleasant Valley, Arizona in the years 1882–1892. The conflict involved two feuding families, the Grahams and the Tewksburys. The Grahams were ranchers, while the Tewksburys, who were part Native American, started their operations as cattle ranchers before branching out to sheep.”   The best recounting of the feud was written by a Payson author, the late Jinx Pyle.  Below are three of Jinx’s works that are good reads if you are interested in Arizona history and the less clamorous but real cowboys of the west.  Or maybe better yet, listen to the Podcast 6-part series, Legends of the Old West, “Pleasant Valley War, or this Youtube video,


When I began thinking about building a billiard room and bar with a western theme, I began researching what should be included in a western bar and billiard room.  Here are four books that gave me ideas as to what should be included in a true western bar.

Notice those towels hanging under the bar
Notice those towels hanging under the bar

I grew up at a time (1950’s) when you went to the movies on Saturday night to watch western films.  Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were my favorites.  Yes, I am old, but with a good “selective memory”.  If you take a tour of my billiard room, you will see a child’s Roy Rogers saddle as you go down the stairs.

I had visited Arizona on many occasions going back over 40 years.  Long before I moved to Arizona, my favorite places to visit and to take family and friends were to the old mining towns such as Tombstone, Bisbee, Jermone and Oatman.  In every one of these mining towns there were saloon/billiard establishments. I find it interesting that in all of these towns, I never found one of these establishments being called a pool hall or saloon.  They are always referred to as Billiard/Saloon.  Take a look at the photos of the mining towns on this website, Western Mining History,  It was a rough life for the miners, most being single men.  How did they spend their time?  Twelve-hour shifts, six days a week in the mine.  To relax, for the most part, they had three things: saloons, billiards and brothels. You decide in what order they chose their entertainment.

For me, it is hard to pick a favorite among the mining towns I have visited in the west as they are all unique.  Perhaps, Tombstone, to watch the reenactment of “Gun Fight at the O.K. Corall” and to enjoy a beer at the local saloons would be at the top of the list.  The history of Tombstone had considerable influence on my imagined billiard/saloon when I began designing our home here in Arizona.  The history of the Campbell and Hatch Saloon and Billiard Parlor is a good example:

Campbell & Hatch Saloon and Billiard Parlor 1881

Bob Hatch and John Campbell opened a billiard parlor in 1880. Bob Hatch was a colorful character and an amateur thespian. It was said he kept a jar of frogs on the counter as their croaking helped him predict the weather. He followed the Earps to the famous gunfight, assisted in removing the gun from dying Billy Clanton's hand, and testified at the hearing. A few months later, Bob Hatch was playing a game of billiards with Morgan Earp when the back window was shattered by a gunshot and Morgan fell, mortally wounded, and died within the hour. Hatch ran for sheriff in 1885, but was defeated by John Slaughter. Campbell ran several saloons in Tombstone and served as a city councilman for a number of years. The saloon and billiard parlor burned in the 1882 fire and was one of the first to rebuild.

Old picture of Campbell and Hatch Saloon and billiard parlor.  Notice the billiard table in the back room where Morgan Earp was shot.

Photo on Marker

Note:  The text above and picture are from this website:

Notice the sign above my National Cash Register “Campbell and Hatch Saloon and Billiards” and the reverse painted mirror “Billiard Saloon”. I saw a reverse painted mirror in one of the western town saloons and thought now that is something I need to do in my bar and billiard room. The red print and the balls are sand blasted from the mirror silver on the back of the mirror and then painted.  It is quite difficult to paint on the back of the mirror as the images have to be reversed as you paint.


I created the stained glass with the ivory, half balls for the top of the cash register and then sent the sign off to Kansas City to have the print, pin striped by the best in the business, Bob Bond.

Just down the street from the Campbell and Hatch Saloon and Billiard Parlor is said to be the oldest bar in Arizona, The Crystal Palace Saloon established in 1879. This bar was frequented by Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp, Brother Wyatt and Doc. Holiday. What a rough and tumble time to live in Arizona.


My favorite picture from the old west is the one below which inspired an important piece of the decoration, my safe which is a work of art, in my billiard saloon.

This is an old picture of the bar in the Crystal Palace Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona.


Picture from Wikipedia:

Notice the towels under the bar next to the spittoons.  When you spit your tobacco, you wiped you mouth on the towel.  NOT SO NICE.

Those towels and spittoons were the inspiration for the towel and spittoon in my Billiard/ Saloon.   The spittoon is from a 1930s Pullman rail car.


My stand-up bar was taken out of a wealthy person’s stately mansion built in the late 1800s in Michigan.  I have always wondered if this is a Brunswick stand-up bar.


Years ago, on a trip to Tombstone with one of my sons and his family we ran into an artist, Bill Roman, selling his signed poster at a table outside of the Crystal Palace Saloon.  Bill did a poster each year for Tombstone Helldorado Days Celebration,  (Bill passed away in 2022)  Each of Bill’s posters, cartoonishly depicted life in Tombstone’s early mining days.  I purchase my favorite print from Bill’s table that day.

If someone out there has the original art work that this print came from, do reach out to me.  I would like to buy this Bill Roman original.  Bill Roman’s “Crystal Palace Saloon” art work was the inspiration for another personal, special part of my billiard room.


When my parents both passed and the family was faced with clearing everything from our farm house in Iowa, one thing was left behind.  It was a very old and very heavy safe tucked away in a closet.  Non of my brothers and sisters wanted it.  I did not want the safe left behind and thus with my two brothers help, the safe was moved from the house and it ended up in the back of my mini van for the drive from Iowa to Arizona.  Thinking back, I am surprised I did not break the back springs on the mini van as it was riding very low and we noticed every bump.


Now what to do with this safe if it is to be a part of my billiard room????

I had the body of the safe restored and pin stipped and gold leafed locally.  Bob Bond,  probably the most accomplished California pin striper from the 1960, was recommended to bring my vision to life for the door of the safe.  Bob now lives in Kansas City.  Thus, I shipped the 90 pound door off to Bob.  I asked Bob if he could recreate the Crystal Palace Saloon scene that is on the Bill Roman posture, shown above.  Here is what he came up with:


Look at the Bill Roman posture and look at this scene on the door.  Bob Bond does this with a very fine tipped brush and a very steady hand.  QUITE AMAZING.


My billiard/saloon in my home continues to evolve. If on a special occasion I were to have a cocktail, it would be a gin & tonic or a glass of wine.  I had a fairly well stocked liquor assortment on the back bar.  One day a friend was at my home after golf and was enjoying a bourbon.  He made light of the assortment of alcohols on my bar as most were of the clear types such as the gin that I enjoy.  He said, “if you’re going to true western bar, you must have a stock of whiskeys and bourbons”.  Thus, the learning and the search began to include a collection of whiskeys and bourbons for my billiard room and bar.  Some, who come to visit of late now say I have gone a bit over board.  What do you think??


Take a tour of my billiard room bar as it is decorated today with quite an assortment of Bourbons, Scotch and Irish whiskey.  While I have never open any of these special brown spirits, I think you will have to admit they do make great decorations.  Perhaps if you have a rare bourbon or whiskey that you think should be a part of my western bar, do let me know.


Click the picture below to take the tour of my western bar and its contents: