For 12 years, Paula Saletnik was better known as “Pistol-Packin’ Paula,” a gunslinger and performer at Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse in north Scottsdale.
She remembers performing up to nine times a day and riding her horse down Main Street at the Western-themed amusement park.
Now the only pieces left of Main Street are a dirt road and a couple of old buildings.
Saletnik visited the site Thursday to take some photos before everything was gone. The structures are being demolished to make way for a new development devoted to residents and retail.
“I came by to see the buildings and say my last goodbyes,” she said.
Rawhide resided in Scotts- dale from 1971 to 2005, when it was purchased by the Gila River Indian Community and moved to Wild Horse Pass, south of Ahwatukee Foothills. It reopened early this year.
A multiuse development called Silverstone is planned to take its place in Scottsdale. The site will boast townhomes, a luxury senior living center, restaurants, a fire station and a library. It is expected to be completed in mid-2008.
Former Rawhide general manager Victor Ostrow said the demolition is a sign of progress.
“You see businesses in that area benefiting from that growth,” he said. “It’s still a fond memory of the millions of people that were there.”
Ostrow said he has held on to photos with former Sens. Barry Goldwater and Dennis DeConcini and Scottsdale former Mayor Herb Drinkwater, letters from Russian diplomats and tokens of appreciation from military officials.
“It’s melancholy,” he said.
Todd Lechner, who operates an excavator with Dickens Quality Demolition, said several people have dropped by the site to salvage a piece of wood from the town.
Developer Michael Pacheco said construction on roads that border the property will begin at the first of the year and take up to 18 months.
The demolition of old Rawhide buildings was not necessary to begin construction on the roads, but Pacheco said he wanted to clean up the site.
“It was our goal that once they left, it was going to be unsightly to leave (the buildings) there until the last minute of construction,” he said.
Although Rawhide took its naming rights when it moved south, Pacheco said there might be an opportunity to remind people at Silverstone of its history. The company has started working with the Scottsdale Public Art program to possibly memorialize Rawhide in an art piece or plaque, Pacheco said.
“People miss Rawhide, and people will talk about Rawhide for a long time to come,” he said.
In July 2004, Rawhide announced plans to sell the land for $46 million, paving the way for the multiuse Silverstone development on the 160-acre site. Details of the plan include:
• 976 homes, including Classic Residences by Hyatt, a luxury senior living center
• Restaurants and shops
• Park that connects to Rawhide Wash
• Fire station