Tombstone: The Town Too Tough To Die


Virgil Earp, the town marshal, enlists Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday. As they walk down Freemont Street on the way to the O.K. Corral, Virgil hands Doc his shotgun in exchange for Doc’s cane. Doc wears a long overcoat and conceals the shotgun underneath it, as not to frighten the townspeople. In the tense moment that followed, Morgan and Doc cock their guns. Suddenly, Billy Claiborne, who stands away from the area, bolts and runs. Ike grapples with Wyatt, who was about to pistol-whip him. The tension explodes and the fight begins.

Doc Holliday shoots Frank McLaury in the abdomen from less then three feet away. Morgan fires and hits Billy Clanton in the chest, knocking him backward against the nearby house. Billy, who was in the process of pulling his gun, shoots in Virgil’s direction. Tom jerks on his horse’s reins, trying to maneuver the horse between himself and his aggressors. Virgil stands in disbelief at all that is happening around him. By now, Virgil gives up on trying to make the Cowboys surrender, drops Doc’s cane, and draws his pistol. Doc, fearful of the position he is now in, holsters his pistol and draws the shotgun from under his coat. Frank, using his horse as a shield, circles the fight and waits for a good shot. Frank’s first shot passes through the calf of Virgil, who stumbles and uses Fly’s house as support. Doc blasts Tom, whose horse has bolted, with the shotgun at point blank range. The shot sends Tom flying down the street. Virgil returns Frank’s shot and misses. Frank shoots under his horse’s neck, and also misses.

Gravely wounded, Billy Clanton tries another left handed shot at Virgil, but misses him. Wyatt takes a long shot at Tom, who has just been blown down the street by Doc’s shotgun. Virgil turns to finish off Billy Clanton. Virgil shoots Billy twice, missing once, while Billy misses both of his shots. Wyatt, Doc, and the wounded Morgan all line up shots on Frank. Frank’s last words were to Doc: “I have you now.” Doc replies: “You’re a good one if you have.”

Four guns go off simultaneously. Frank hits doc in the hip, and Morgan shoots Frank in the head, killing him instantly. Within an hour, both Tom and Billy die of their wounds.
Virgil, Morgan, and Doc are wounded, but live to fight another day. Only Wyatt and Ike survived the fight unscathed.

Tombstone Courthouse. In 1882 the Conchise County Courthouse was built at a cost of around $45,000.
This hearse is considered to be Tombstone’s most valuable individual antique. It is trimmed in 24k gold and sterling silver. Almost everybody in Boot Hill Cemetery was transported by this hearse.

One day in 1877 the prospector Ed Schieffelin stood in Camp Huachuca and he looked to the mountains in the northeast. The soldier who stood beside him warned him about Apaches who controlled the area, and he said to him “All you’ll find in those hills is your tombstone.” Tombstone, which flourished under the hunt for silver in the beginning of 1880, was known as one of the most notorious and violent towns. Not only was Tombstone a nice and cultural town in the West, Tombstone was the place where man lived fast and died quickly.

The fight by O.K. Corral in 1881 is remembered as the most notorious fight in the history of the town. On one side were Sheriff Johnny Behan and the Clanton clan who ran “Moonshine Ranch” with stolen cattle and stage robberies. The (relative) good men were US Marshall Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and the known alcoholic gunman “Doc” Holliday.


In the afternoon of October 26th came the Earp brothers and Holliday, to the corner of Freemont and 3rd Street where five young members of the Clanton gang were looking for a fight. According to the late explanation of Ike Clanton, Wyatt Earp pushed his gun into Clantons belly and yelled, “You son of a bitch, you can have a fight.” Clanton turned around and ran away, guns and rifles sent lead, and in about 30 seconds three of Clanton’s men were dead and Virgil and Morgan were seriously wounded.


The Earp brothers and Holliday were questioned in court and found not guilty. Two months later around midnight a masked man tried to kill Virgil Earp, but they only injured his arm for the rest of his life. Three months after that, an Asian killed Morgan Earp. Wyatt Earp worked outside the law to find his brother’s killer, and in the process killed three men who were suspected for the murder of his brother, and then left Cochise County forever.

Among others, the restored Crystal Palace Saloon from 1879 was the offices of city Marshall Virgil Earp and Sheriff Johnny Behan; and O.K. Corral, which became famous in one turbulent moment of shooting, are now open again.

Crystal Palace Saloon


Truly a Historical American Landmark, Tombstone is America’s best example of our 1880 western heritage, which is well preserved with original 1880’s buildings and artifacts featured in numerous museums.


The Bird Cage Theater – the most famous Honky-Tonk in America between 1881 and 1889. It was a saloon, theater, gambling hall and brothel. Legend has it that no self-respecting woman in town would even walk on the same side of the street as the Bird Cage Theater. In 1882, The New York Times reported, “the Bird Cage Theater is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.”


The photo above is where all of the gambling took place. The room was down on the lower level of The Bird Cage, and it’s called the poker room. In this room the longest poker game in history took place. It ran continuously for 8 years, 5 months and 3 days. Today, the poker table still stands as it was left. Just imagine setting your elbows down on the very place the Earps, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons once did.


Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, was once the Grand Hotel, the original building was built in 1881. Big Nose Kate is believed to have been the first prostitute in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.


Declared as one of the finest hotels in the state, the hotel was luxuriously furnished, provided thick carpeting, and its walls were adorned with costly oil paintings. During its first few years, the hotel often housed some of Tombstone’s most famous residents including Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton Gang when they came into town. In fact, Ike Clanton and the two McLaury brothers were registered guests the night before the famous OK Corral gunfight.



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Wander Woman

I'm a Writer/Screenwriter fueled by proponent travel. When I decided to leave the only home I knew the journey grew into a fierce dream to travel and write about the places I explore. My adventures are a constant struggle between fear and courage, but we humans are explorers and pioneers, and we find our inner strength when the end state is the absolute unknown.