Tombstone Arizona: A Journey into the Wild, Wild West Ghost Town
Tombstone, Arizona, a historic and fascinating ghost town, is undoubtedly one of the most authentic and well-preserved remnants of the Wild West era. Located in Cochise County, Arizona, Tombstone was founded in 1879 and has since transformed from a thriving silver mining town into a popular tourist destination.
It offers visitors a chance to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich history of the Old West. This comprehensive guide will explore the various attractions, activities, and historical sites that make Tombstone Arizona Ghost Town a must-visit destination.
Tombstone’s Rich History
The Birth of a Silver Mining Town
The story of Tombstone, Arizona, begins in 1877 when a prospector named Ed Schieffelin ventured into the area in search of valuable minerals. Despite warnings about the hostile Apache tribes and the harsh conditions, Schieffelin persisted and eventually discovered a rich silver ore deposit.
The town was named “Tombstone” in response to the soldiers’ earlier warning that all Schieffelin would find in the area would be his tombstone.
Tombstone quickly grew to become the center of Arizona’s largest silver mining district, attracting prospectors, cowboys, gunmen, homesteaders, and businessmen alike. By the early 1880s, the population had swelled to over 15,000 residents, making it a thriving boomtown.
The town’s prosperity, however, was not to last.
The Decline of Tombstone
The price of silver began to fall in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century, the mines had flooded, and operations ceased. As a result, the once-booming town began to decline.
Many residents left searching for better opportunities elsewhere, leaving a dwindling population and a town on the brink of becoming a ghost town.
The Town Too Tough to Die
Despite its hardships, Tombstone persevered and managed to survive. In 1962, it was designated a National Historic Landmark, and tourism soon became the town’s primary source of income.
Today, Tombstone Arizona Ghost Town attracts thousands of visitors yearly, drawn by its well-preserved buildings, fascinating history, and enduring charm.
Things to Do in Tombstone Arizona
Good Enough Mine Tour
One of the most popular activities in Tombstone is the Good Enough Mine Tour. As one of the 25 mines in the Tombstone district, the Good Enough Mine played a significant role in the town’s silver mining boom.
Visitors can join knowledgeable guides on a 45-minute tour through the mine chambers, learning about the history of silver mining in the 1880s. The tour is reasonably priced, dog-friendly, and offers a unique and engaging experience.
The O.K. Corral Enactment
The famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is integral to Tombstone’s history and has been immortalized in numerous films and books. Today, visitors can witness daily reenactments of the historic gunfight between Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp, and the McLaurys and Clantons.
Life-size figures of the eight gunfighters are on display, and visitors can take photos with them. Please note that dogs are not allowed at this event.
Historic Tombstone Walking Tour
A Historic Tombstone Walking Tour is an excellent way to explore the town’s rich history. This informative two-hour tour covers the town’s beginnings, the unique aspects of Tombstone in the 1880s, famous buildings, and the stories of prominent families such as the Earps, Clantons, and McLaurys.
The tour costs around $20 per person.
Tombstone’s fascinating history is beautifully documented in its various museums. Some notable museums include:
Tombstone Western Heritage Museum
This museum houses over 12,000 artifacts, including original papers, photographs, firearms, furniture, clothing, and antiques that belonged to the town and its famous residents.
Rose Tree Museum
The Rose Tree Museum tells the story of the Robertson-Macia family, who made Tombstone their home for over six generations. Exhibits include the world’s largest Rose Tree and artifacts showcasing the family’s contributions to the town.
Gunfighter Hall of Fame
The Gunfighter Hall of Fame houses an impressive collection of guns from the Wild West era, transporting visitors back to when gunfights between cowboys were common. The museum is located at 4th and Toughnut Street.
Tombstone Epitaph Museum
The Tombstone Epitaph Museum houses Arizona’s oldest and continuously published newspaper. Visitors can learn about the printing process and view the original Hand Press. The museum is located at 11 South Fifth Street.
Bird Cage Theater
Once known as the wildest and wickedest nightspot in town, the Bird Cage Theater now serves as a museum. Daytime tours are available for a fee, and evening ghost tours are also offered. The theater is located at 535 E Allen Street.
Getting to Tombstone Arizona
Tombstone is about a three-hour drive from Phoenix and just over an hour from Tucson. The nearby town of Bisbee, Arizona, is only a half-hour south of Tombstone and well worth a visit. For more information on Tombstone, visit tombstonetraveltips.com.
Ghost Tours in Tombstone Arizona
Tombstone is known as one of the most haunted towns in Arizona, and visitors can experience the paranormal activity first-hand on a Tombstone Ghost Tour. These walking tours allow participants to explore haunted locations and hear chilling tales of the town’s ghostly residents.
Some locations even allow visitors to enter, providing an immersive, spine-tingling experience. Trolley ghost tours are also available in the area for those who prefer a vehicle-based tour. However, Ghost City Tours recommends walking tours for the most authentic and engaging paranormal experience.
Neighboring Ghost Towns
Gleeson, Courtland, and Pearce
Outside Tombstone, the Ghost Town Trail connects three former mining communities: Gleeson, Courtland, and Pearce. Once bustling during the mining boom, these towns now offer a glimpse into the past through their abandoned buildings and crumbling ruins.
The Ghost Town Trail provides a scenic and historical drive that combines the beauty of the Arizona landscape with the intrigue of these forgotten towns.
Tombstone in Film and Television
Since the 1950s, Tombstone has been immortalized in film and television, further solidifying its place in popular culture. Some notable productions include:
- The Life & Times of Wyatt Earp (TV series, 1955-1962) starring Hugh O’Brian
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas
- Tombstone (1993), starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer
- Wyatt Earp (1994), starring Kevin Costner
These films and television shows have helped to keep the legend of Tombstone alive, drawing countless visitors to the town each year.
Today, Tombstone Arizona Ghost Town remains a popular tourist destination, with around 1,600 residents. The town’s residents mostly entertain tourists, and they do so with great enthusiasm and skill.
With its well-preserved buildings, fascinating history, and engaging activities, Tombstone is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the Wild West era.
Whether it’s exploring the historic mine tours, attending a thrilling reenactment of the famous O.K. Corral gunfight, or simply strolling down the historic streets, Tombstone, Arizona offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
So, saddle up and embark on a journey into the Wild, Wild West Ghost Town of Tombstone, Arizona.