Deep in the southeastern corner of Arizona is a historic place known as the home of the famous wild west silver boom, whiskey fueled gun fights and the most famous saloons. This epic southwest landmark known as “The Town Too Tough to Die” is Tombstone. You might think you know everything about this Arizona gem from books and movies, but nothing compares to seeing this old western town in person. Today, Tombstone is home to around 1500 year-round residents who enjoy the wonderful climate the high desert has to offer and believe in preserving the history and heritage of the Wildest Town in the West. Before you head to the scenic southwest trails for your next tour, here are some terrific facts about Tombstone…
1. At its peak, Tombstone is said to have been the fastest growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco. There were over one hundred saloons, numerous restaurants, a large red-light district, schools, churches, newspapers, and one of the first public swimming pools in Arizona (which is still used today).
2. There were actually five Earps. They were Virgil, Morgan, Wyatt, Warren and James
3. Tombstone’s post office was established December 2, 1878 and has yet to be discontinued.
4. The most famous event in Tombstone’s history was the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral, which didn’t actually happen at the corral, but in a vacant lot on Fremont Street. On October 26, 1881, members of the “Cowboys” had a run-in with Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp with help from Wyatt’s friend Doc Holliday. 24 seconds and 30 shots later, Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury were mortally wounded. In many people’s opinion, it was this one event that has kept Tombstone alive for all these years.
5. There were two newspapers in Tombstone, The Tombstone Epitaph edited by John Clum and The Tombstone Daily Nugget founded by H.M. Woods in 1880. The Epitaph took a Republican view on events in town while Nugget was supported by the Democrats.
6. There was an ice-cream parlour in Tombstone and it was very popular with the locals, including Wyatt Earp who was quite fond of ice-cream.
7. There were a few theaters in town, the most famous of them being Schieffelin Hall and the Bird Cage Theatre
8. Sirens were used in Tombstone to mark the beginning of a new shift for the miners. After the gunfight occurred on Oct 26, 1881, sirens went off from the Vizna mine and miners poured up onto the street, armed and ready.
9. Saloons were open 24 hours a day in Tombstone. These included The Oriental, The Crystal Palace Saloon, The Eagle Saloon and The Alhambra. Saloons could be quite decadent and served Whiskey and Brandy, six-year-old Kentucky Apple Brandy, Gin Rum, Sherry, Port, English Ale, Scotch, Millers Extra and 26 different imported wines. The Oriental bragged at having piano and violin concerts every night and was lit with chandeliers.
10. Restaurants in Tombstone such as The Can Can, The Russ House, The Elite House and The Maison Doree, catered to all tastes, including fine dining. Fresh shrimp and oysters were brought in from California to Tucson in refrigerated train cars, then transported down to Tombstone.