Travis Schnepp will portray 19th-century Tucson saloonkeeper George Hand. COURTESY OF MARK MORABITO

Old Pueblo's pioneers will come alive tonight during the "Special Night at the Museum" tour.

Actors costumed as historical figures will regale visitors to the Arizona History Museum with tales of frontier life in Tucson. The event is a fundraiser for the Arizona Historical Society.

Volunteer Travis Schnepp and his dog, Zoe, will portray George Hand and his canine companion, Joe. Hand came west with the Gold Rush, then joined the California Volunteers in 1861 and mustered out while stationed at Fort Bowie. He came to Tucson, where he was a saloonkeeper, well known for the diaries in which he documented daily life in the Old Pueblo.

Schnepp attended last year's Special Night at the Museum tour and was impressed to learn "how important and integral each of these characters was in making Tucson what it is today. All of these characters was important in their own way."

As a volunteer at the museum, he regularly leads tours, but this is the first time Schnepp will be in character as he guides visitors.

"The most interesting thing, especially for children, is having an actual individual talking to you and getting a real personal view of history, and that's what I love about the museum. It gives the children and adults a good feel for history," said Schnepp. "My favorite thing about leading the tours is watching people make a connection and get excited."

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at or at 573-4191.