The most famous Old West town, Tombstone is just 3 miles East of the ranch. A visit there is truly a step back in time as you will walk where they walked, passing over the locations of the 25 or more gunfights on the streets and back alleys of the town. The history here is captivating, varied, and so much more than the gunfight near the OK Corral that made Tombstone known the world over.
The area surrounding Tombstone has been home to Cochise and his Chokonen band of Chiricahua Apaches, Spanish Conquistadores and Missionaries, cowboys, prospectors, miners, gamblers, gunfighters, merchants and lawmen. In 1877 Ed Schieffelin was prospecting in the area despite the extreme danger from the Apaches. When Ed discovered a rich vein of silver, he named his first claim Tombstone, his second Graveyard and the third Graveyard 2. Once the original town, Watervale moved from its location next to the ranch, to it present location, founders also had a sense of humor and named the new town, Tombstone.
The richness of the mines quickly made Tombstone one of the most prosperous towns in the West and the population grew to 10,000 in just 4 years. This isolated mining town quickly became “cosmopolitan” with operas, vaudeville, famous entertainers, wine bars, French Champagne, an oyster bar and an ice cream parlor.
There were many underlying tensions in the area, including those between Union (Republican) and Confederate (Democrat) sympathizers, cowboys and local townspeople and out of state mining investors. With the border close, rustling in and out of Mexico was common and honest ranchers on both sides were the victims. All this made conflict, murder and gunfights commonplace.
As early as 1881 water started to seep into the shafts at about 500 feet. At first the water helped in the drilling process, but it soon was obvious that the water problem would have to be solved. Pumps were installed, but soon better, bigger pumps were needed and huge machines were brought in from Cornwall, England. At first the pumps worked perfectly and the mines chased rich ore bodies deeper. Machine breakdowns, catastrophic fires and the volatile silver and gold markets turned Tombstone into a boom and bust town, until mining finally ceased in 1990. Small and large efforts to bring mining back continue.
Today tourists replace miners in the “Town to Tough to Die” walking the same streets, going down into one of the mines, visiting the old theaters, drinking in the same saloons, entering the Courthouse (now a museum) and watching the Gunfight at the Ok Corral reinacted.
- March: Territorial Days
- April: Rose Festival
- May: Wyatt Earp Days
- June: Balloon Festival
- July: Fourth of July Celebration
- August: Vigilante Days
- September: Rendezvous of Gunfighters
- October: Helldorado Days
- November: Emmet Kelley Jr. Days
- December: Notorious Clanton Gang Days