Tombstone was, without doubt,
one of the most lawless mining camps in the
American West. From this one-time city of 10,000 --
miners, merchants, floozies, cowboys and rustlers,
itinerant thugs, saloon keepers and, in general, a
lot of just plain unsavory people -- the
controversial legend of the Shootout at the O.K.
Corral and tales of numerous other deaths by
misadventure (some apocryphal) have developed over
the past 110 years.
It all began rather calmly when, in 1877, silver
was discovered in large quantities by prospector Ed
Schiefflin. By 1879 it had become a town and was
named by Schiefflin when a friend commented that
"the only thing you'll find out there will be your
Millions of dollars worth of silver
were extracted each year, but within a decade it
was all over -- at least the mining was finished.
Cattle ranching kept the town going but the
population dwindled and most of the buildings
decayed. But in the mid-1900s, tourists discovered
the one-time home of the Earps and Clantons.
Historic buildings were repaired and restored. Boot
Hill, the first cemetery to be so named, became a
top attraction and the famed shootout was
re-enacted to thrill visitors.
The town is now a prime attraction on anybody's
tour of southeastern Arizona, with saloons and
distinctive restaurants. The old courthouse has
become a museum of Wild West history and the whole
town has been designated a national historic
How to Get There
Tombstone is 70 miles southeast of Tucson, and
is easily reached via Interstate 10 to Benson and
then south from Benson on Arizona Route 80.
What to See and
Boot Hill Graveyard is a must. The
cemetery holds the graves of many of Tombstone's
bad men, as well as most of the early settlers of
the mining camp. Most of the historic buildings are
along the boardwalks that line Allen Street, one
block west of the highway. Gunfights and barroom
brawls are staged along Allen Street on several
Sundays each month. The Bird Cage Theater, from
1881 the home of bawdy entertainment -- a dance
hall, saloon, theater, brothel and gambling house
-- has no performances today but is open for tours.
Bullet holes score the theater's old walls.
The Crystal Palace Saloon is an 1879
watering hole and gambling den that has been
faithfully restored; the long back-bar is not the
original but a fine replica. The saloon is open
daily for drinking and eating, with entertainment
O.K. Corral and Historama provides a
30-minute presentation which re-creates Tombstone's
early years with films and animated figures on a
revolving stage. Next door to the Historama is the
corral where it is said the legendary gunfight
between the Earp and Clanton brothers and Doc
Holliday took place (it didn't). The fight actually
took place on what is now a vacant lot near the
corral on Fremont St. There are life-sized figures
that portray the five men (three dead and two
wounded) during the gunfight. Nearby there are
several other historic buildings including the
photographic studio of C. S. Fly, which has a
showing of historic photos. An admission fee is
charged for these attractions.
An old 1880s home is now the Rose Tree Inn
Museum. In the courtyard is a rose tree more
than 100 years old -- reputed to be the world's
largest. Covering a huge arbor (8,000 square feet)
the old rose plant blooms each April.
A large brick structure at the corner of
Toughnut and Third Streets, the Tombstone
Courthouse was built in 1882. It's now a state
historic park and museum filled with artifacts and
photographs of the 1880s. The town gallows is on
display in the courtyard, and the gift shop is the
best place in town to buy books on the history of
the town and region. You can visit the old offices
of the Tombstone Epitaph -- now a museum -- to see
how pioneer newspapers were produced and purchase a
souvenir copy of the second-oldest continuously
published paper in Arizona.
The Silver Nugget Museum is another
commercial museum, commemorating a gambling den and
brothel that has been restored and is replete with
authentic Victorian furnishings.
In addition to these attractions, there are
period restaurants, souvenir stores, and an tour of
the Good Enough Silver Mine under
Tombstone's streets, entered through a mining
museum and gift shop.
Among the dozen or so eating places in town are
several saloons on Allen Street, serving pub
basics. On the other hand, you might try the
following places that serve more than saloon
Nellie Cashman Restaurant
Located on a side street -- at the corner of Fifth
and Toughnut -- this restaurant has a historical
theme (historical photos of Tombstone on the walls)
and serves from a large menu which includes Italian
dishes, steaks, seafood, and several varieties of
burgers, plus sandwishes, vegetarian dishes,
homemade pies, and more. The historic adobe
building survived the fires of the 1880s, mainly
because of the 18-inch walls. It's open from 7 a.m.
to 9 p.m. during winter monthss, and from 9 a.m. to
9 p.m. in summer (open 365 days a year). For
information and reservationss, call (520)
Vogan's Alley Bar (on Allen, two doors
west of 5th) serves good burgers and beer, with
"breakfast" served on Friday and Saturday nights
from midnight until 2 am.
The Longhorn, on the corner of Allen and
5th, is a popular place with locals, serving normal
American food in a slightly rustic setting.
Don Teodoro's serves Mexican dishes for
lunch and dinner, with brunch on weekends.
Best Western Lookout Lodge
Most local accommodations are older, small motels.
Overlooking the Dragoon Mountains to the east, this
Best Western operation is the most modern place to
stay in Tombstone. It has been recently renovated
and has a heated pool. Complimentary continental
breakfast is served ($ to $$). Reservations are
available for this and other accommodations in
Tombstone through our reservations
9th Street at Fremont
Located at the corner of 5th and Fremont, the motel
has recently been remodeled, plus adding
rooms, with a total of 38 rooms, plus a small
convention center. There is an expanded continental
breakfast every morning.
410 Fremont St. (Hwy. 80)
Located close to everything of an historic nature,
the Larian offers large, comfortable rooms, at very
reasonable rates. Gordon Anderson is the host, and
the motel provides air-conditioned rooms, in-room
coffee and special discounts for attractions and
dining. Dining places and Tombstone saloons are
Marie's Engaging Bed and Breakfast
101 North 4th Street (Fourth & Saffrord)
This fascinating B&B is an original 4-room
adobe structure, built by John Rock, a store owner
from the late 1800s. The inn is named for Marie
Dietrich, who later lived in the home. This is an
original 4-room 1906 Victorian adobe home, with 2
bedrooms and a 4-person suite. The home has a
Victorian parlor, Dish TV, A/C, a courtyard, 2 fish
ponds, and full breakfast is provided. No pets. One
block from Historic District Tombstone beginning
with Schieffelin Hall.