The "Town Too Tough to Die" is probably one of the best known small towns in the country. A prospector by the name of Ed Schieffelin was once told that if he went looking for gold in the Apache territory of San Pedro Valley, he would find nothing but his tombstone. When he found silver and put in a claim, he decided to name it Tombstone. It was incorporated in 1881.
It became a town known for saloons, gambling, and became famous for the Earp-Clanton Shoot out just outside the OK Corral. It was at that time bigger, and considered more cultured than Tucson. In the mid 1900's the silver mines lost profitability, and the town started its relative decline compared to other towns in the Territory. Today, tourism is the big industry there, and the population is at about 1500 (down from 1600 in 1980).
In the early days, the town was smack in the middle of the Apache fighting. Cochise was one of the most feared Chiricahua Apaches, and this was his domain. Later, when the Chiricahua Apache Reservation was closed, another warrior by the name of Geronimo kept the area exciting with his raids.
Today, the tourist can learn quite a bit about the early days, and be entertained with a lot of tourist trap fluff. Shoot outs are held everyday, either at the OK corral, on Allen Street, and at the Helldorado Amphitheater on 4th and Toughnut Street.
Things to Do:
Boot Hill: The very famous graveyard. Look for the tombstone of Lester Moore, a Wells Fargo station agent from Naco, Arizona. His epitaph reads: "Here lies Lester Moore / Four slugs from a .44 / No Les No More" Lots of famous gunslingers are here, including the losers of the fight at the OK Corral. Just off of US 80 north of Fremont.
Actually, just cruise around the four blocks edged by Fremont, 3rd Street, Toughnut, and 5th Street. You will find just about all Tombstone is famous for, including the Bird Cage Theater, preserved as it was in the 1880's; the Rose Tree Inn, site of the worlds largest rose tree, covering about 7000 square feet, and most of what is listed here.
Helldorado Celebration: Taking place every October
OK Corral: Take a trip to see where the famous shoot out took place. The mannequins are pretty cheesy, but for $2.50, the price of admission, it is worth it if you are in the area. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Allen Street just east of 3rd Street.
Places to Eat:
Crystal Palace Saloon: Built in 1879, restored to look just like it did in its heyday. Call (520)457-3611
Big Nose Kate's: The original. Call (520) 457-3815
� Copyright 1998 Q87 International & Vincent Davis. All rights reserved.
Last revised: October 30, 1998