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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tombstone and Wyatt Earp

Tucson and Pima County,Arizona
I just returned from three days away to Tucson Arizona.  I visited some old friends there and they showed me around the town and the area.  I have never been there so I was ready to become a tourist.  It was a bit difficult for me physically since my accident but I had made the trip reservations  many moons ago.

Tucson is a fairly large city, (250 square miles or so and a million people in the area) situated on a flat plain of very large size in Pima County (9,200 square miles).  It is just north of the Mexican border and it is a desert surrounded by some high mountains.  I am used to the forest setting here in Nevada County and I don't think I ever got used to the desert landscape while I was there.  The elevation is about the same as Grass Valley, (2,500+-) but the contrast was stark. I did go up to  Mount Lemon outside the city and at the 8,000 foot elevation saw some pine forests and some massive burned to the dirt, pine forests.  All Federal lands is my understanding. I told my friends that it appears the U.S. Forest Service is incompetent all over the country regarding management.  Sad to see the forest burned down.

Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp
File:Doc holliday.jpg
Doc Holliday
Daily Re-enactment
My first day there was a trip to Tombstone, Arizona.  A couple of hours away from Tucson but a fairly easy drive.  Wide open space, all desert.  I marveled that the pioneers and cowboys could traverse such dry and desolate spaces, create towns and live year round there.  Tombstone is situated on a ridge and is way out in the boonies.  It is of course world famous for the deeds of Wyatt Earp and his brothers back in 1881.  The Gunfight at the OK Corral is western yore and reality. Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday  and Ike Clanton are all names associated with the gunfight.  The best movie about the Earp's and Tombstone is the movie Tombstone (1993), starring Kurt Russell.  Today there is a daily re-enactment of the gunfight.

Wyatt Earp's Home and Statue
I am a sucker for the lore of the old west.  This town has been a place I wanted to see all my life.  I was very pleased to be able to see the location of the gunfight and a lot of the building along the main street.  I got to see Wyatt Earp's house and the adjacent statue as well as "Boot Hill", where the residents who died from bullets or old age were planted.

Gallows at the Courthouse
Entrance to Boot Hill
Courthouse, ($54,000 cost to build)
I toured the old courthouse in town and it was a classic old west government building.  Tall and wide with creaky wooden floors, all things Tombstone were on display.  Besides the people there were many artifacts such as those we have in our little museum in Nevada City.  Out back were the gallows, long unused of course and walled in to prevent outside viewing I suppose.

At Boot Hill there is about an acre of grave-sites.  Many headstones have been replaced as they have rotted in the desert sun over the last century.  There was a large mound of rocks holding the remains of the OK Corral dead men. I wondered how the grave diggers could even dig a hole in the hard pan earth of this graveyard and maybe these mounds proved they did not dig to deep.  Most of the graves were from the period of 1879 to 1881.  Many said "shot" so maybe the stories are true?
Boot Hill Resident

Brothel Ordinance
More Residents of Boot Hill

Oh, and the town of Tombstone was started by a silver find nearby.  It sprung up around a spring and burned down numerous times.  It was a fun day realizing a dream of mine to see and walk the streets of the town Wyatt Earp and his brothers walked all that long ago.

 Grass Valley has a connection to the Earp's as well.  My dad new Hobart Earp, a cousin of Wyatt.  He lived off of Highway 49 down past Cherry Creek.  He was an architect  I was told.  So there you have my little adventure.  I hope you check the links and read them  I was appalled coming back on the plane from Tucson when I was seated next to a high school junior from Seattle.  She was attending a elite high school and yet, when I asked if she new about Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, even the OK Corral, she responded she never heard of them.  Our history textbooks must be crap if they leave out these men and women who made the west.


  1. There's another connection...After Hank and Mama Su took over the Washington Hotel, Su discovered Earp's signature in the hotel ledger. Wyatt stayed there, but I don't know when. I'd guess sometime in the early 20th Century.

    1. I returned the favor and signed the guest book at Boot Hill. LOL!


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