My Western Trip Part~12

23 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



After lunch, I headed south to visit the city of Tombstone, a historic western town in Cochise County, Arizona, founded in 1879 in what was then Arizona Territory. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. By the early 1890s, prosperity from silver mining, the town had expanded to the point where the ladies and gentlemen of Tombstone could attend operas presented by visiting acting troupes at the Schieffelin Hall opera house, while the miners and cowboys saw shows at the Bird Cage Theatre, said to be “the wildest, wickedest night spot found anywhere between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” The U.S. Army attempted to keep some kind of order in the Territory, but under the surface tensions were growing. 



Shortly after the Earp brothers arrived in Tombstone in late 1879, an ongoing conflict developed between them and the Clanton brothers and Tom McLaury. The cowboys repeatedly threatened the Earp brothers, over the years, until the conflict escalated into a deadly confrontation that turned into a shootout, the now-famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The city of Tombstone has survived the ravages of time, and is now a thriving tourist attraction, with many period clad characters walking the streets, encouraging visitors to enter their particular establishment to get in out of the heat. I had a sarsaparilla in Doc Holiday’s Emporium , and it really did quench my thirst.



Before leaving Tombstone, I visited the Wyatt Earp House & Gallery, which was closed at the time, but I was able to look in the windows of the house and read the inscriptions on the bronze statue of the famous lawman. Just outside the town of Tombstone was the famous Boothill Grave Yard (originally called The Tombstone Cemetery until around 1884), were many of the area bad guys are buried. And, of course, I couldn’t leave Tombstone without visiting that historic site. Well, as you might guess, the grave yard was full of famous named people, and the Curator even has a brochure you can purchase, listing many of the 250 people buried there; when and how they died, and who killed them, if known. A few of the famous Tombstone legends you will see on the headstones & markers throughout the grave yard include, Frank and Billy Clanton (O.K. Corral shootout) and their father “Old Man Clanton” (killed by Mexican cattle rustlers on a cattle drive), Tom McLaury (also of the O.K. Corral Shootout) and 3-fingered Jack Dunlap (a train robber) who was shot while attempting to rob an express car guarded by Jeff Milton. On my way back to Tucson I stopped in Benson, AZ to visit the Benson Railroad Museum, but it was also closed, so I just headed back to my motel for a nap and some dinner.







—–To Be Continued—–


2 Responses to “My Western Trip Part~12”

  1. divoran09 July 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Bill liked that old western stuff almost as much as he did seeing airplanes. We’ve seen a lot of good western movies in our lives. Onisha, I didn’t know James Garner had died. We like him a lot too. The nice thing about famous movie stars is that you can see them on the screen any time you want. In a way it’s a sort of staying young forever, better for the fans than for them, of course.


  2. Old Things R New July 23, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Great post Bill. I was saddened this week to learn my favorite western actor, James Garner passed away.


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