February 8, 2011

2/6/11 – Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone—The Town Too Tough To Die!  However…on Superbowl Sunday, it was as close to dead as a 21st century tourist attraction can get.
First stop was the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park.  The old Cochise County Courthouse is now a museum—and the smallest county park in Arizona!  We parked across the street, and at the stop sign on the corner was an old biker-dude—jeans, grizzled beard, cowboy hat, sunglasses—with a parrot on his shoulder!
The museum was pretty interesting.  The sheriff’s office and courtroom were exactly as they had been 75 years ago.  There was a section on the mining history, lots of stuff on Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral, of course, but also the biggest collection of barbed wire I’ve ever seen (or want to see again.)
This is real old west stuff—there’s  a reproduction of a gallows in the sideyard where 5 men were lynched after a robbery in 1883.  Another man who was involved was sentenced to life imprisonment, but a mob forced the jailer to release him, and they hanged him from a telegraph pole.   The coroner’s report said “I find that the deceased died of emphysima of the lungs which might have been caused by strangulation, self-inflicted or otherwise.”   Who’d have guessed there’d be this kind of irony about something like this???
After that we headed downtown, which is blocked off except for stagecoach traffic and pedestrians.  Usually there are lots of people dressed in like the Earp brothers & Doc Holiday, but for some reason there weren’t a lot of people around that day…do you think the football game had anything to do with it? 
We wandered around through some of the stores.  George bought me an early Valentine’s present—a Hopi fetish bear necklace, silver inlaid with colored stones, genuine Indian-made. 
When he found a cowboy hat he wanted, I couldn’t say no, could I?  Even if it’s out of character for the good guy to wear black??? 
We missed the gunfight, but we heard from several people later that it was really cheesy.  By the time we had a late lunch, there were literally nobody left in town.  Stores and even the bars were closing down early for the game.  Even the stagecoach drivers were gone.
We did stop at Boothill on the way out of town.  The graves are still there covered with stones—the Historical Society has set up wooden markers.  They’re labeled with names, dates and sometimes cause of death.  There’s a brochure that has additional comments about some of them that’s really interesting.  It was a hard time in a hard place—lots of shootings, stabbings, accidental death, but also a lot of suicides too.  A lot of graves marked “Unknown”.  I think that’s sad.
So we saddled up and headed back to Benson and our own camp. 

Link to Tombstone pictures

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