Arizona January 15, 2017
The Unique Town In Arizona That’s Anything But Ordinary
Helldorado. The Town Too Tough To Die. No matter what you call it, Tombstone is one feisty little town in southern Arizona that perfectly captures the spirit of the Old West. With more than 137 years of movie-worthy history under its belt, this town is one that every Arizonan needs to visit at least once for both the history lessons and the entertainment that goes along with it.
Tombstone was founded in 1879, becoming one of the last true frontier boomtowns in America’s Old West with an economy based around its prosperous silver mines.
A major part of the town’s notoriety comes from the name itself. An Army scout searching for evidence of ore in the area was told he would be more likely to meet his own grave—or, in this case,
tombstone—than find any minerals.
Over the years, it experienced some pretty crazy history riddled with violence, economic boom and bust, and, some say, even hauntings.
Tombstone’s claim to fame can probably be attributed to this famous quartet at the height of the town’s boom era when it was also an area known for its lawlessness. The gunfight at the O.K. Corral and later the Earp vendetta ride cemented the town’s (and Arizona’s) reputation in western history.
In reality, the gun fight took place near Fremont and 3rd Street, closer to Fly’s Photo Gallery but the name stuck over the years thanks to books, films, and TV shows that depicted the famous gun fight near the O.K. Corral.
Today, Tombstone has become a tourist destination for those looking to get a sense of what life was like during Arizona's territorial days. You'll find some original buildings still standing, some reconstructed after fires, and even a couple left almost completely untouched for decades after the town almost died.
You'll find plenty of history scattered around town but the major stop for everyone is Allen Street, the same street where most of the town's history, revelry, and violence took place.
In the 1880s, if you wanted to party in Tombstone, this was the street to do it. Allen Street was home to saloons, theatres, brothels, and gambling parlors, and was reportedly open 24 hours.
The times weren't always fun and a visit to these next two places will remind you of that.
Historic buildings like the former Cochise County Courthouse help illustrate some of the other aspects of life in a town like Tombstone. Here, you can find artifacts of the period and even see the old gallows where some criminals met their end.
Another spot is Boothill Graveyard, a cemetery made up of about 250 graves. Among the interred are some well-known names if you're familiar with the history of the Old West. Many of the wooden tombstones feature epitaphs of how the individual died (most unique to time period) and some even feature some clever wording.
Of course, there’s plenty more to see around town but this is a good start to the many attractions you’ll find in Tombstone. If you’ve visited before, be sure to share your favorite experiences with us!
Want to see another unique piece of Arizona’s Old West? Read about the Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operating trading post in Arizona, in
The Oldest Trading Post In Arizona Has A Fascinating History.