by Bradley G. Courtney

Last week’s readers learned that Robert “Bob” Brow left Deadwood, South Dakota, at the age of 24 and eventually wound up in Walnut Grove, Arizona. There the worst natural disaster in Arizona’s history occurred on February 22, 1890, when the Walnut Grove Dam broke.

The dam disaster soon led Bob to Prescott again where he would become a household name and historical figure still known by many in Prescott today. In 1892 he began his legendary stint with Prescott’s Palace Saloon when he purchased a 50 percent interest, co-owning it with L.F. Hale. Bob bought out Hale in 1895, becoming the sole proprietor of the Palace.

On July 14-15, 1900, Prescott experienced the worst catastrophe in its history. The majority of the town’s business district burned to the ground. A man’s careless use of a miner’s candlestick holder led to a conflagration of nearly mythical dimensions and intensity. Most famously, Palace patrons and firefighters pulled out the cherry and mahogany bar, and continued to party while the saloon’s pianist played “It’s a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” repeatedly while others watching the fire sang along. Harry Brisley, a pharmacist, noted that when the fire was finally stopped, “It was reported that Brow had tapped kegs of cold beer nearby the courthouse and was free to all comers. Never had been heard more welcome news after five hours of continuous toil.”

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