Picacho Peak, Arizona: Modern Ruins: Furrer's Museum and Restaurant (Gone)

World War I museum and machine gun firing range out in the desert featured a dome in shape of a World War I helmet. Owner John "Poppy" Furrer hated the Nazis.

Gone in the early 1980s.

Visitor Tips and News About Modern Ruins: Furrer's Museum and Restaurant

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Furrer's Museum

Hello, I am the granddaughter of John Furrer, builder and owner of the museum. He fought in WWII.

[Johannah L Back, 04/12/2020]

According to the Got Good Bones blog, John Furrer moved to the desert in the 1970s where he built a helmet-shaped World War I museum (even though he had fought in WWII). The museum had tanks that could be driven and machine guns that visitors could fire. The state of Arizona shut it down in the early 1980s.

Military Museum and Der Fuhrer Restaurant

The [modern ruins] war museum, now defunct, is a beautiful part of my family history. It was owned by a man named Poppy and his wife. Poppy served in the Czech underground in WW1, along with my grandfather. They were great friends, and the remainder of only 40 survivors out of the entire army. They received the highest medal in the land for their valor (Electrum medal showing Czech Republic man named Havlichec on it). Poppy moved to Arizona after the war, my grandfather moved to Chicago. Through the years I have heard of many of the adventures they had endured during the war.

I met him out of curiosity and happenstance back in 1978 or so, in the last days of his museum. We discovered our family ties and he quickly gave me a tour of the building he had constructed himself. He used a steam shovel to do the heavy work. The "dome" was a World War 1 helmet giant replica and the main building for his displays of all the equipment. He hated the German armies he had fought. They had lost the family farms of their youth in the surrender at Paris. Later much of my family perished during the Holocaust.

Poppy's restaurant, The Fuhrer, was ill-named. I think he wanted to draw interest to his museum, in an Old World way. Again, he hated the Nazis for they had destroyed the Old World, not just for my family, but for everyone.

He told me I was to inherit the museum. His health was very bad, but his mind was sharp. He said zoning laws had forced him to stop construction, and commented how the place was built with concrete and rebar, saying that they will never be able to tear it down. He did not understand that permits were required, for being from Europe, things like that were not required in his day. He was well qualified to construct such a monument to the memory of the fallen soldiers. We have all lost a great treasure with his passing.

Oh, the chocolate milkshake his wife made for me was the best I have ever had!

[Anne Choc, 03/31/2016]
Modern Ruins - Vague Recollections

This was the site of the "Der Fuhrer" restaurant. The large empty pole held the sign. At one time there were hundreds of military vehicles there, including a truck whose sides opened to reveal a shooting gallery complete with clay pipes etc. (A little odd for a war zone).

We used to stop and look around, but as far as I know it never opened. I do not know what the dome was for. The last time I was there was in 1980 and the owner came out of the house above the now defunct restaurant. He looked sickly and I guess this is why the place failed. At one time there were numerous restaurants at the park, they are mostly gone, although the best pistachios in Arizona (Arizona Nut House) are across the freeway at the park entrance. I still miss Nickersons restaurant, with a working beehive in the wall.

[Barry Patterson, 11/29/2008]
Modern Ruins

A few years ago, I drove to Picacho Peak to view and photograph the old truck that used to be mounted atop the pole at the site of the Modern Ruins. That truck was a beacon to me for many years when driving from L.A. to Tucson. I was very disappointed to find it gone.

I read somewhere that the truck was still available for viewing in a compound behind the Dairy Queen, so I took another trip out to try to get a picture. Inquiring at both the Dairy Queen and the Bowlin's trading post on the site of the ol' ruins was fruitless. Apparently the truck is in storage elsewhere these days.

[Amanda B., 04/04/2008]
Modern Ruins

The "Modern Ruins" that a tipster mentions at Picacho Peak, along with the truck on a pole, are what remains of a military museum that went bust sometime in the mid-1970s. This was according to the story I heard in 1977 when I moved to Tucson.

[Brian Peck, 04/26/2002]

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