Thursday, November 19, 2009


This wonderful cactus on the road to Tombstone was about 20 feet tall.

Earlier this Month Jeff, my Daughter Angelina and I went on what we called our 'Wild West' road trip. Jeff and I had been wanting to go on a road trip for our second anniversary and the opportunity came to make this trip, so off we went. This is the first blog of perhaps six about that road trip. I will also include a bit of wiki-history about Tombstone.

Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then the Arizona Territory. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 1,569. In the summer of 1877 prospector Ed Schieffelin was working the hills east of the San Pedro River in the southeast portion of the Arizona Territory, when he came across a vein of very rich silver ore in a high plateau called Goose Flats. When Schieffelin filed his mining claim he named it "The Tombstone", after a warning given him by a passing soldier. While telling the soldier about his rock collecting experiences, the soldier told him that the only rock he was likely to collect among the waterless hills and warring Apaches of the area would be his own tombstone.

St David is a tiny town on the road to Tombstone, but of course we found its cemetery!

Almost there!

Old Wagon Wheel in the center of town

The town of Tombstone was founded in 1879, taking its name from the mining claim, and soon became a boomtown. Fueled by mineral wealth, Tombstone was a city of 1000 by the beginning of 1881, and within another year Tombstone had become the seat of a new county (Cochise County) with a population between 5,000 and 15,000, and services including refrigeration (with ice cream and later even ice skating), running water, telegraph and limited telephone service, and a newspaper aptly named the Tombstone Epitaph. Capitalists and businessmen moved in from the eastern U.S. Mining was carried out by immigrants from Europe, chiefly Ireland and Germany. An extensive service industry (laundry, construction, restaurants, hotels, etc.) was provided by Chinese and other immigrants.

Some medical instruments from the 1800's used in Tombstone

The Gallows are located behind the Tombstone courthouse, in a walled in courtyard.

The main Courtroom

Assayers instruments circa 1880's

The original fire dept.

Without railroad access the increasingly sophisticated Tombstone was relatively isolated, deep in a Federal territory that was largely unpopulated desert and wilderness. Tombstone and its surrounding countryside also became known as one of the deadliest regions in the West. Uncivilized southern gangs from the surrounding countryside, known as "cow-boys", were at odds with the northern capitalists and immigrant miners who ran the city and mines. On October 26, 1881 this situation famously exploded in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, leading to a continued family and political feud that resulted in multiple deaths.

The Tombstone Epitaph

The Tombstone Epitaph is a Tombstone, Ariz.-based monthly publication that serves as a window in the history and culture of the Old West. Founded on May 1, 1880, The Epitaph is the second-oldest continually published newspaper in Arizona. It long has been noted for its coverage of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, and its continuing research interest in Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and their cowboy adversaries. In 2005, for example, it presented for the first time a sketch of the O. K. Corral gunfight hand drawn by Wyatt Earp shortly before his death.

The national historical monthly is published by Tombstone Epitaph, Inc., an Arizona corporation. A separate biweekly edition of The Tombstone Epitaph, which contains local news, is published by the University of Arizona Journalism Department under a use agreement between the Epitaph corporation and the university. Although they bear the same name, there is no editorial connection between the two publications.

In addition to publishing the historical monthly, The Epitaph office in Tombstone's historical district welcomes visitors from 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Inside of Tombstone's oldest continually operated business, visitors can watch a free video presentation on printing in the 1880s, view a Washington flat bed press on which early issues of The Epitaph were printed, explore a large museum devoted to the era of "hot metal" printing, see rare photographs and other early Tombstone newspapers, and learn much about the life of John Philip Clum, the frontiersman who started The Epitaphafter Tombsstone burst on the western mining scene after silver was discovered by Ed Schieffelin in 1877.

The Buford house is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the country.

The Tombstone Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District. The town's focus on tourism has threatened the town's designation as a National Historic Landmark District, a designation it earned in 1961 as "one of the best preserved specimens of the rugged frontier town of the 1870s and '80s.

Since Tombstone was in the desert, a company built a pipeline to supply the town with water. No sooner was this pipeline built than Tombstone's silver mines struck water.

As a result of relative lack of water and quick wooden construction, Tombstone experienced major fires in June 1881 and May 1882. The second fire was particularly destructive and signaled the end of the classic old boomtown mining city. After the mid-1880s, when the silver mines had been tapped out, the main pump failed, causing many mines to be flooded with deep groundwater, and Tombstone declined rapidly. The U.S. census found it had fewer than 1900 residents in 1890, and fewer than 700 residents in 1900.

This sign was over the door where we had lunch in Tombstone

The Tombstone Marshal's Black Horse

The famous gunfight at the OK Corral did not really happen inside the corral as is often portrayed, but near there, on Fremont St.
The next blog will be on the Famous Bird Cage Theatre Stay tuned!



I really enjoyed the Tombstone photos! I loved seeing the doctor's equipment and the assayer's equioment as well.

You and Jeff have captured Tombstone so well, I feel like I was there with you. I got the same odd feeling that I get when I have been to Virginia City, Nevada.....Like the time when I clearly saw a vision of a young woman dressed in Victorian costume and after pointing her out to my friend, I realized that she really WAS a vision! The wind was blowing against her with great force and yet there was not even a breeze that day. My friend was amazed and wished she had seen her as well. Not the first time that has happened to me.....


Sonia ;) said...

Wendy that was so awesome...Enjoyed that alot. Now I want to visit lol...Cant wait for the next post.

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