Wyatt Earp's Old Tombstone
Our first stop in Tombstone was this gift shop on the northwest edge of town. We stopped because of a sign which advertised "Tourist Information," and we thought it might be the town's visitor center. It turns out this was only a gift and souvenir shop, however, it is purported to be built on the sight of Wyatt Earp's personal mining claim and home.
There are a few interesting exhibits at the shop, and the friendly proprietor answered our questions and gave us a free map of downtown Tombstone, which was very helpful. We purchased a refrigerator magnet and some postcards.
81 West Fremont Street, Tombstone, AZ 85638
It costs dollars to take a peak inside
Each historical site is geared to the relieve the visitor of his or her dollars. It would not be so bad if there was a set entrance fee for entering the historical district. Or maybe a Tombstone card that would allow entrance to all historical sites. But, I'll be darned if I am going to pay an entrance fee to the OK Corral, the Boot Hill cemetary, the Bird Cage Theatre, the Crystal Palace Saloon, the Cochise County Courthouse and on and on it goes.
The Characters of Old Tombstone
Wyatt Earp: Gambler, entrepreneur, and lawman from Dodge City. Middle brother to Virgil and Morgan. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral and emerged unscathed. Later married Josie Marcus.
Virgil Earp: Longtime career lawman and town-marshal of Tombstone. Older brother to Wyatt and Morgan. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral and was shot in the right calf but survived. Virgil was ambushed by the Cowboys two months after the gunfight and shot again in the back and arm with buckshot but survived this as well.
Morgan Earp: Deputy of Tombstone. Younger brother to Wyatt and Virgil. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral and was shot in the back but survived. Fatally wounded in an ambush by the Cowboys 5 months later at a billiard hall.
Doc Holliday: Dentist, professional gambler, drinker, southern gentleman, intellectual, quick wit, and gunfighter. Sickly and dying of tuberculosis. Close friends with Wyatt Earp and arch-enemy of Johnny Ringo. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral on the side of the Earps but received only a minor flesh wound on the hip.
Frank McLaury: Cattle rancher and member of the Cowboys gang. Older brother to Tom. Killed in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Buried in Boot Hill Cemetery.
Tom McLaury: Cattle rancher and member of the Cowboys gang. Younger brother to Frank. Killed in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Buried in Boot Hill Cemetery.
Billy Claiborne: Outlaw, gunfighter, and cattle rustler. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral on the side of the Cowboys, may have fired several shots, and then ran away.
Ike Clanton: Ill-mannered ranchhand, cattle rustler, and member of the Cowboys gang. Older brother to Billy. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral on the side of the Cowboys but ran away when the shooting started--shouting that he was "unarmed". Ike is often credited with provoking the entire battle in the first place.
Billy Clanton: Well-mannered, well-liked, and hardworking ranchhand and member of the Cowboys gang. Younger brother to Ike. Participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral and was fatally wounded. Buried in Boot Hill Cemetery.
Josephine Marcus (AKA "Josie Marcus", "Sadie Jo", "Shady Sadie"): Professional dancer and actress, possibly a high-priced call girl. Girlfriend, then wife to Wyatt Earp.
Mary Katherine Horony (AKA "Big Nose Kate","Kate Fisher", "Kate Elder","Mary Katherine Cummings"): Longtime girlfriend of Doc Holliday and owner of a boarding house in Globe, Arizona. There is no historical evidence whatsoever that Kate was a prostitute or operated a brothel while in Tombstone.
William Brocius (AKA "Curly Bill"): Outlaw, rustler, excellent gunfighter, and high-ranking member of the Cowboys gang. Accidentally shot Marshal Fred White while in a drunken stupor one night. Curly Bill was later hunted down and killed by Wyatt Earp in retaliation for the Cowboy's assassination of Morgan Earp.
Fred White: A young man and first town Marshal of Tombstone. Accidentally shot by a drunken Curly Bill (although the two had been friends prior) and died several days later.
John Peters Ringo (AKA "Johnny Ringo", "Johnny Ringgold"): Mean-tempered drunk, murderer, and high-ranking member of the Cowboys gang, Ringo was often called "the King of the Cowboys". Arch-enemy of Doc Holliday. He was found dead of a bullet wound to the head in West Turkey Creek Valley. He was possibly killed by Wyatt Earp in retaliation for the Cowboy's assassination of Morgan Earp or he committed suicide. The name "Johnny Ringo" was later often used for characters in 1950s and 60s Western movies.
Well preserved and restored old saloons
There are four saloons in Tombstone:
1. Crystal Palace Saloon (read my Things To Tip "Golden Eagle Brewery and Crystal Palace Saloon")
2. Big Nose Kate's Saloon
3. Silver Nugget Opera House & Saloon (corner 6th & Allen St. - entrance through the gift shop)
4. Johnny Ringo's Saloon (60 S. 10th St.)
I have seen 1-3. I like most interior of Crystal Palace Saloon but I entered and had a great time in Big Nose Kate's Saloon when I saw live show played for visitors.
Historically, the western United States featured public bars called saloons which are now part of Old Western American legend. Many saloons survive in the western United States, though their services and features have changed with the times. Newer establishments have been built in the saloon style to duplicate the feeling of the older establishments. However in Tombstone a few saloons have been preserved and carefully restored and they mostly look like in 1880'. I have never seen anything like that in the USA.
At an elevation of 4,540 ft (1380 m)
Additional bags for shopping may be necessary. Pack sun glasses! Light cotton clothes (shorts, T-shirts) for warm or hot days. Sweater/pullover and/or jacket for colder evenings/nights. Tombstone is situated on a mesa (an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs) between the Dragoon and Huachuca Mountains at an elevation of 4,540 feet (1380 m) thus both days and especially nights are colder than in say Tucson. Difference in day-night temperature may be high. Pretty warm days but freezing nights in winter are common!
Check weather forecast for Tombstone now. Good sun protection cosmetics with high UV filter - use them BEFORE or just after you leave your car. Lots of film or memory cards and your polarizer lenses, enhancing lenses especially for pictures at bright sunlight. Tourist frige with ice cubes and cold beverages inside :-).