Tom Mix (1880-1940)

Was Tom really done in by a high-speed suitcase?

Did Tom really use Tony the Wonder Horse's tail as a bell pull?

Was Tom a 'washed up has been' when he died?

Why did one-half of the Tucson's Local couple spend so much time gathering information about an actor who died 60+ years ago? And that's without even seeing a single Tom Mix movie.

Answers to these questions and more can be found right here, just follow along.

We'll answer the last question first: Several years ago, we headed out from Tucson on a leisurely day trip to the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum up in the Globe-Miami area. Naturally, we took some of the back roads since they allowed us to avoid "the blob that ate the desert" (Phoenix). Heading up the Pinal Pioneer Parkway (SR 79) about 20 miles south of Florence we passed a picnic area pretty much in the middle of nowhere with a curious sign: 'Tom Mix Monument.' Now we both had heard of Tom Mix, knew he was the premier cowboy actor in his days, so this was a real enigma. Why is there a monument to a silent screen star way out here? Why wasn't the monument in Hollywood, or Phoenix, or Tucson, or, well pretty much anywhere else?

On the way back from Boyce-Thompsen we stopped, figuring we'd find out the answer. But, no, instead it became a bit more confusing. A cairn with a riderless horse, a plaque with an odd inscription ("Whose spirit left his body on this spot..."), and another couple who claimed that Tom was driving drunk, drove off into the wash where he and his car stopped, but the luggage in the back seat didn't, at least not until connecting with Tom's head, causing his demise. This story had Urban Legend writen all over it. A flying suitcase, come on, get real! Ten minutes on the internet would reveal the truth.

Nope! As I found out, the internet was full of conflicting stories, rendering it useless for researching the death of Tom. So with pad and pencil in hand, I set out to the Library to learn the truth (and as a sidelight, learn how to reseach something a bit obscure).