Who knew that the famous town of Tombstone was at one time one of the wealthiest places in the West? This silver mining boomtown generated millions of dollars and there were a large number of businesses in this Cochise County town that boarders Mexico. Founded in 1879, Tombstone ended up in its heyday with an opera house, churches, newspapers, a bowling alley, gambling halls, and over one hundred saloons. The wealth brought not only the prospectors but high society as well.
Tombstone is perhaps most famous for the “Gunfight at the OK Corral” in 1881. Popularized in subsequent years in films and print, the shootout between the “law” and the “cowboys” became much more famous in the ensuing years. Men such as Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Billy Clanton became household names. As mainly a tourist destination, the famous gunfight is frequently reenacted, for a fee of course!
These days after seeing the shootout you can pick up some jewelry, a fake curly mustache, and some ice cream. There is also an AZ state sponsored museum, tours of the Bird Cage Theater, mine tours, hotels, shops, bars, and restaurants.
The Bird Cage Theater was known as one of the wickedest night spots in the country. It was open continuously from 1881 to 1889 and was the scene of many a death as witnessed by the still visible bullet holes on the walls. As an added bonus it is said to be haunted and surprisingly has nightly ghost tours.
The “Town Too Tough to Die” almost did after the silver mines struck water, flooding them, and subsequently they shut down in the mid-1880s. Afterwards the population quickly shrank to less than 1000 people from its height of 10,000-20,000 thousand, still remaining for some time the Cochise county seat.
Celia and I enjoyed strolling down a 1880s western town. A popular walking tour was booked up for days in advance, which I am sure would have been fun, but our last minute visit precluded that. It doesn’t take very long to visit Tombstone. Having visited it, it would not be at the top of our list for the area (very touristy), but we are glad to have seen it.
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