We visited Tombstone, Arizona, the town “too tough to die”
When you arrive at the representative street of “old Tombstone”, you can still see cowboys chatting in the street, and busking on the sidewalks.
Tombstone, although it was a booming silver mining town, is best remembered for the Earp family, and as the town where the gunfight broke out at the OK corral.
These are the Earp boys, Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, Warren, and James.
But the most famous Earp is Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, who was born March 19, 1848, and died January 13, 1929.
Earp lived a restless life. He was at different times in his life a constable, city policeman, county sheriff, Deputy U.S. Marshal, teamster, buffalo hunter, bouncer, saloon-keeper, gambler, brothel owner, pimp, miner, and boxing referee. But I suppose he is is best known as the fearless frontier lawman of Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas. While in Wichita, he met and became lifelong friends with Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday, as well as earning his reputation as a lawman and notable gambler. Hearing about the silver boom in Tombstone, he convinced several of his brothers, and their wives, to accompany him west.
In Tombstone, though he spent most of his time gambling, he assisted his brother Virgil in keeping the law. A feud developed between the Earp brothers and a gang led by Ike Clanton. This feud culminated in the best known gun-fight in western folklore – the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Three of the Clanton gang were killed, while Ike and another wounded member escaped. The three Earp brothers – Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan – along with Doc Holliday- survived. Wyatt is often regarded as the main figure in the shootout in Tombstone, although his brother Virgil was Tombstone city marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal that day.
Although not a true family member, “Doc” Holliday and Wyatt Earp were friends, as close as brothers, because “Doc” once saved Wyatt”s life.
Dr. John Henry Holliday began his career as a Dentist in the 1870’s. After discovering he had tuberculosis, no one would visit his practice for fear that he might break into a cough, and contaminate them. “Doc” decided to go west, because. the doctors had told him that the drier air of the west would be good for his disease.
After discovering his natural instincts for the game of poker and gunslinging, he had found a new way to live. Gambling in the west was nothing to mess with, so Doc carried a six gun on his hip and one on his shoulder along with a knife. He used them all skillfully, and at will. Because of his unusual “lifestyle”, he often found himself in jail. Doc ran into a Lady friend with whom he had on and off affairs throughout his life, Mary K. Cummings. On one occasion, “Big Nose” Kate broke him out of jail. He felt he owed her for all of her help. So, he married her. (I had to put that in because I just love her nickname).
Doc often ran into people that wanted to prove themselves by taking him down. The price on his head was large and he carried a big reputation. Always friends, Doc accompanied Wyatt at the OK Corral shoot-out. Wyatt said of Doc, “He was the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw.”
The famous Earp family has been long gone, but you can still feel them walking down the streets of Tombstone.
About 47 years ago, my cousin Joyce and I drove across country. (that’s an adventure story for another time). We did hit Tombstone, and may I say that it has changed greatly. I won’t make a judgement, I’ll leave that for you to do when you visit There are several shootout re-enactments every day at specific times, but we made the decision not to attend. We did have a sarsaparilla at the Crystal Palace – which was delicious, and checked out the OK corral.
Thankfully, Tombstone has more to offer than the kitsch of an old mining town, check out the rest of Tombstone…
Fabulous, right? Makes it all worthwhile !
NOTE: If you want more information, Google Tombstone, or watch the movie “Tombstone”, with Kurt Russell as Wyatt, and Sam Elliot as Virgil.
ANOTHER NOTE: Sam Elliot was born to play a cowboy – any cowboy.
FINAL NOTE: If interested, please see review of Tombstone RV Park.
NOT THE EARPS, NOT GAMBLERS OR GUNSLINGERS, BUT STILL FAMILY
While here in Amado, Arizona, we got a chance to meet my daughter-in-law Liz’s Dad, Paul, and his wife, Del, for the first time. Paul is a retired policeman from California, who gives great “bear hugs”, and loves to golf, and Del is a well-regarded artist, whose paintings are spectacular.
They’re really nice people with wonderful senses of humor, and so we met again for dinner at Tubac Jacks. Hopefully, we’ll see them again before we leave this part of the state.