Try to imagine walking down a creaky wooden sidewalk on a dusty dirt street in an old historic wild west town that many legendary gunslingers made famous. The feeling is quite intimidating, even if you happen to be a bit rough around the edges. One simply cannot help but to be preoccupied with the ghosts of the past when standing on the same ground that legends like Wyatt Earp, Ike Clanton and Doc Holiday once trod upon. This is what makes Tombstone such a great wild west destination to experience!
“What was it like to settle disputes with a sixgun and a lever action rifle? Were the lawmen really the criminals? Were the so called outlaw cowboys really in the right? What were the chances of living more than five minutes in Tombstone if a top gunslinger had it out for you?” … Questions like these have a way of crossing the mind while touring downtown Tombstone!
It only take a few minutes to realize that this town certainly lived up to its namesake way back in the day. Even in modern times, the gunfighting reputation of Tombstone supersedes all else in every tourism brochure. Oddly enough, the name of this wild west town originally had nothing to do with gunfights. The name came from a prospector that risked life and limb when searching for ore deposits out in the Apache territory. Since most folks back then said that all he would discover would be his own tombstone, the name for the silver deposit the prospector discovered was predetermined. By 1879 the mining camp of Tombstone was officially on the map.
Tombstone was a mining camp gone wild, just like so many other western boom towns, but Tombstone also had a few cards up the sleeve that some of the other wild west towns had no privilege to. Tombstone had many lucrative angles for illicit income that dubious characters could prosper from. The local silver mining industry could well have been considered to be a guise for the higher grossing illicit trades. Because of the proximity of Tombstone to Mexico and the lack of upstanding lawmen, criminal acts like cattle rustling and smuggling operations were rampant in this old west town. Of course bootlegging, brothels, saloons and gambling halls all flourished in Tombstone too. If one did not lose one’s own life the hard way, then one would certainly lose one’s own fortune playing Faro in Tombstone, especially if the table banker was Wyatt Earp or Doc Holiday.
Modern day Tombstone still has the classic old west look and feel. The early morning hours are filled with deathly silence in this place. The main street area is still unpaved dirt and the storefront awnings cover sidewalks that are made of wooden planks. When strolling along before the all the tourists arrive, the old sidewalk boards make a spooky creaking sound. While standing in the shade of one of the cottonwood trees, there is no breeze to rustle the leaves. No birds chirp and even the ravens keep their distance. Nary is a stray dog and there are no mice to invite cats. Downtown seems empty and eerily lifeless with the blinding sunlight gleaming down, while the trees are green enough to be in a still life painting. Strolling around historic downtown Tombstone early in the morning is like stepping into the past and this definitely is something unique to experience!
Winter is the best season of the year to visit Tombstone, because the extreme heat of summer this far south in Arizona is hot enough to melt the soles of sneakers. Tombstone is relatively easy to find on a map and it is close to a major highway. When traveling on Interstate Highway 10 in Arizona, all that needs to be done is to exit the freeway in Benson, then follow the signs south to Tombstone. This old west town is close to the Mexico Border, so do not be surprised to see U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints along the way, which may be best to avoid during times of political corruption.
Once in Tombstone, a visitor will see plenty of business themes that revolve around the legend of the “Shootout At The O.K. Corral.” Anything and everything cowboy western can be found in this town, so be prepared to stock up on some cool western goods! There are a few native art and jewelry shops that have one of a kind items and plenty of old west antique prospecting can be done in this area, so be prepared to shop till you drop!
When the first steps are taken on the dirt streets of Tombstone, it is like stepping back in time. When looking all around, it is as if the past has come back to life. The original Bird Cage Theatre and the Grand Hotel still stand. The old famous watering hole Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is conveniently located in the center of it all. Of course the legendary O.K. Corral is still there and it is now a pay to view attraction with real live shootout reenactments.
Tombstone definitely is a wild west destination that belongs high on the lifetime travel bucket list! It is not just the raw history or the legendary wild west gunfights that took place in this town that beckons visitors from afar. Superficially, modern Tombstone mainly focuses on tourism, but underneath it all, this wild west town is still downright intimidating in a paranormal sense. The ghosts of the past certainly do haunt the streets of “The Town Too Tough To Die.”
Leave no trace!
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