On the Road: Tombstone, Arizona

The Town too Tough to Die

Tombstone is famous for the 1881 thirty-second gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury on the other.

The shootout has inspired books and movies, including the 1993 Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

A series of framed drawings at the historic Cochise County Courthouse, which is now a museum and visitor’s center, shows the progression of the gunfight though it happened so quickly no one is certain what transpired.

Tombstone is about more  than a gunfight, though. Nicknamed “The Town too Tough to Die,” it was founded in 1879 and prospered because of silver mining. Two major fires devastated the town in 1881 and again in 1882. But it was the drop in silver production that sent inhabitants scurrying for greener passages.

Over a hundred years later, tourism has replaced mining, cattle rustling, and gambling as the major industry.

Our first stop was the Bird Cage Theater, home of the longest poker game ever.

For eight years, five months, and three days a variety of players wagered at the table in the basement. You can still see it, and it’s almost eerie to think that historical characters such as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson actually sat in that very place.

Sadly, bloggers are prohibited from posting photos taken at the Bird Cage Theater.

So here’s a photo of the O.K. Corral re-enactors waiting to shoot it out.

After touring the Bird Cage and eating lunch, we walked around town, visited the Courthouse, and went into a few stores.

Our next stop was Boot Hill.

Those who were killed at the O.K. Corral shootout are buried here. What we found most heartbreaking, though, was how many of the stone markers said “Unknown.”

Others gave specific reasons for the death such as “Hung” or “Killed by Indians.”

Six years after the Earp/Clanton gunfight, there was another shootout near the O.K. Corral. I wrote about William Cornell, a copper and ranching mogul, who sought revenge for his daughter’s tragic death at Midwest Almanac.

This is my first trip to this part of the country, but it won’t be last because my two grandgirls live here now. To this Midwest gal, who has lived most of my adult life in the Sunshine State, the landscape is very different.

But I like it!

Your Turn

I wouldn’t say Arizona was my dream destination (no offense, Arizonians!), but I’m enjoying my time here very much.

What state are you eager to visit?

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