|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2012)|
The Thing? is an Arizona roadside attraction hyped by signs along Interstate 10 between El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona. Teaser ads, such as The Thing? What is it? and Mystery of the Desert, entice travelers along this sparse stretch of desert highway to stop, just to find out what the mysterious Thing? might be. Such billboards are similar to signage seen in the South as drivers approach the South of the Border near Dillon, South Carolina and Rock City near Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Thing? is located at Dragoon, Arizona. On the south side of the highway, the attraction is part of a large filling station and gift shop complex painted red, yellow and blue. Amid the bows and arrows, moccasins, baseball caps, velvet paintings and turquoise jewelry, the gift shop also sells The Thing? shot glasses and T-shirts and other souvenirs.just off I-10 at Exit 322 on a hilltop between Benson and Willcox, near Texas Canyon, at 2631 North Johnson Road,
What is it? 
The Thing? rates an entry in Doug Kirby's New Roadside America (1992), and it once was featured in a Jane Pauley television special on NBC. For a $1 fee, paid at the shop's cash register, one can enter a small outside courtyard leading to three prefabricated corrugated steel sheds. Inside are a variety of exhibits, including odd wood carvings of tortured souls (by "Ralph Gallagher, artist"), the "wooden fantasy" of painted driftwood (from an Alamogordo collector), framed lithographs, saddles, rifles, a covered wagon and several vintage automobiles. A sign by a 1937 Rolls-Royce makes the claim that it once belonged to Adolf Hitler. Winding corridors and exhibit halls eventually lead to The Thing?, a mummified mother-and-child tableau encased in a glass-covered coffin.
The roadside area was the creation of attorney Thomas Binkley Prince, who was born in Texas in 1913. He grew up in California, studied at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona College of Law, entered law practice in Phoenix and briefly served as a prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. During World War II, while he was working for a Seattle law firm, Prince also ran a billiard hall. In the 1950s, Prince and his wife Janet opened their first Thing? roadside attraction and curio shop on Highway 91 between Barstow and Baker, until the expansion of the road into an interstate highway brought about the loss of the building. In 1965 the Prince family packed up The Thing? and moved to the current location in Arizona. A heart condition and several strokes led to Prince's death in 1969 at the age of 56.
Syndicated columnist Stan Delaplane traced The Thing? back to 1950. Janet Prince, who later moved to Baltimore, Maryland, was interviewed by Delaplane in 1956 and told him, "[A] man came through here about six years ago. He had three of them he got somewhere. He was selling them for $50." Today, the attraction is operated by an Albuquerque-based company, Bowlins, Inc., which owns several roadside trading posts throughout the Southwest.
Author David Hatcher Childress speculates in his book Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of the Southwest on The Thing? He writes, "I started hearing stories that this curious double mummy had come from catacombs inside the Grand Canyon ..." He was referring to controversial legends about ruins being found in the Grand Canyon as reported in the April 5, 1909 issue of the Phoenix Gazette. The article described the ruins being found in underground catacombs cut out of stone and "possibly from Egypt." Childress reproduced the article in his book.
- Phoenix New Times: "Shrine to a Road Scholar" (January 27, 1993) by Dave Walker
- Roadside America: The Thing?
- NPR broadcast on The Thing?
- Tribute to Homer Tate, alleged creator of The Thing?
- An article written about The Thing? in the Explorer Newspaper