Next day, left around 10 am for the 20 minute drive to Tombstone for the Helldorado celebration. Before doing so George just had to stop in one of the malls to go to the Boot Barn, Arizona’s number one shop for all your cowboy needs, and bought himself a new pair of Wrangler jeans, a pair of cowboy boots and a bolo tie, those cowboy ties which are basically a piece of decorated metal on a bit of string. As you can see from our pictures, he looked quite the part. Reached Tombstone around 11am and spent a wonderful day there. Tombstone is known as ‘ the Town Too Tough To Die’ and is a living legend as it was here that the gunfight at the OK Corral of 1881 took place between Wyatt Earp and his brothers and the Clanton Gang. In 1962 it became a National Historic Landmark and much of its downtown area is immaculately preserved, with its historic buildings and boardwalks and dust streets. This is especially the case on Allen Street which is the main thoroughfare.
The OK Corral is preserved as a museum and we saw a re-enactment of the famous gunfight in the Corral. Here too is Doc Holliday’s room where he boarded in Big Nose Kate’s boarding house, there is a prostitutes crib, which is a small shack simply furnished with a bed, which the many prostitutes in the town used to rent for business. Next door to the Corral is Fly’s photographic studio. Fly was a famous photographer during these times and took lots of photographs of the people of early Tombstone, was a friend of Wyatt Earp and also took photos of Geronimo, including when he surrendered. Loads of his original photos were on display in the studio. Being the Helldorado weekend, the town was hugely entertaining, every man was dressed up to look like one of the Earps, one of the Clanton Gang or Doc Holliday. The women, on the other hand, had all dressed with last century dresses. Horses, carriages and a covered wagon took visitors on tours around the town and on Allen Street e there were hourly gunfight ‘battles’ going on in the street.
Stopped off on Allen Street for lunch at Big Nose Kate’s saloon, which was historically very interesting, a great hamburger and buzzing with waitresses dressed up as tarts and a very raucous singer entertaining us. After lunch strolled around some more, saw the original newspaper office for the Tombstone Epitaph, founded in 1880 and still going strong.
Picked up a copy of the Epitaph that covered the famous gunfight and then called in to the very historic Crystal Palace Saloon which was a rowdy bar in Earp’s day and still is today, it has won awards as being one of the most accurately preserved establishments in USA and photographs of ‘then and now’ show that its interior has hardly changed at all. Further up Allen Street is the notorious Bird Cage Theatre, once a bawdy dance hall and brothel and given its name because of the covered ‘crib’ or caged compartments which hung from the ceiling where the prostitutes used to entertain their clients. Final stop in Tombstone town was the old Courthouse on Toughnut Street which was the courthouse from 1882 to 1929 and is now a historic site and museum.
Left Tombstone about 4p and headed a mile north of the town to the Boothill Cemetery which is full of graves of residents of Tombstone dating from around the mid-19th century to around mid-20th. Here are the graves of the Clanton brothers, Ike and Billy and Frank and Tom McLaury. Also Old Man Clanton, the brother’s father who died a few months before the shootout. Lots of the graves here are marked with names of people who were ‘shot’ ‘murdered’ ‘killed’ or committed suicide. These far outnumber those who died due to natural causes. One interesting one was a grave marked for George Johnson, who was hanged by mistake in 1882 and reads, ‘ He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up, and now his gone.’ Wonderful day, and loads of pictures on facebook, including George with Wyatt Earp. Left our lovely apartment at Sierra Vista for the long 340 mile to Flagstaff. This is our longest journey without a stop so once it is out of the way, our continuation to Las Vegas has frequent overnight