As part of our USA Summer road trip we travelled from the almighty Los Angeles to Tombstone, Arizona the heart of the Wild West. We arrived into Tucson on the early morning Greyhound having sold our Cadillac in California (he couldn’t stand the heat!). From Tucson we hired a little car and started the drive to Tombstone, catching the KPLX 45minute ‘hair metal marathon’ on the radio our drive was filled with excitement, head banging and anticipation. As the landscape turned from city to dustland, miles and miles of flat dust land for as far as the eye could see (with the occasional cactus) we could see thunderstorms up ahead and drove through some heavy rain to the sounds of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden. As we turned off the highway towards Tombstone nothing could have prepared us for the weekend that lied ahead.
THE HISTORY: Some of you may recognise Tombstone from the 1957 film ‘Gunfight At The O.K Corral’ or more recently the excellent 1993 flick ‘Tombstone’ starring Val Kilmer & Kurt Russell. Tombstone was founded in 1879 and is a city steeped in a very rich, dastardly and perfectly wild history. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. From about 1877 to 1890, the town’s mines produced USD $40 to $85 million in silver bullion. The silver mining rush brought hoards of miners, gun slingers, prostitutes, gamblers and thieves making Tombstone the third largest and wildest city in America back in the 1880’s. If you know anything about the wild west you’ll certainly have heard of The Earp brothers (Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren Earp). The Earp brothers arrived into Tombstone in December 1879 and assumed roles as lawmen at one time or another which led to ongoing conflicts with Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury and other Cowboys. After repeated threats against the Earps by the Cowboys over many months the conflict escalated into a confrontation that turned into a shootout, the now-famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
(From top left: Cow skulls for sale, Wells Fargo Bank, Cowboys On Allen Street, Doc Holiday gunfight reenactment, Comedy gun fight reenactment)
ALLEN STREET: We parked the car and took a stroll down the famous Allen Street. Allen Street is brought to life by regular gunfight reenactments, saloons that line either side of the dusty street, old-fashioned horse dawn carriages and plenty of men dressed in cowboy gear. We sat and watched the ‘Doc Holliday’ gunfight, the ‘Gunfight at The O.K Corral’ and the comedy gunfight, all of which were very well acted out and they even use real guns (with blank bulletts obvs). At first it seems like a real ‘touristy’ place, then you start to notice things that make you question where the ‘Wild West’ touristy stuff ends and the real Tombstone begins. After a short while of walking around the city, sitting in the saloon over hearing conversations you start to realise that it is actually a real place filled with real life cowboys carrying real guns and believe me this was a pretty staggering realisation!
(From the top: The horse drawn carriage Allen Street, Victorian Children’s clothing, 1880’s ladies shoes, Tombstone Courthouse Library, The Birdcage Theatre, the best root beer in the west!)
GREAT STUFF TO DO: We took a ride around the main historical streets in a horse drawn carriage being shown all the sights and places of historical significance whilst eating an ice cream, so much fun. Theresa sat up front and held the shotgun for the picture, when she pointed it at the camera she was shouted at pretty swiftly not thinking for a moment that it was actually a real shotgun,eek!! We sampled the best root beer in the West, it was pretty darn nice. We walked around the famous Birdcage Theatre which was mind blowing, the bar and prostitutes bedrooms were still set up exactly as they had been back in the 1880’s, there were bullet holes everywhere from drunken cowboys attempting to shoot whichever act was on stage or another cowboy in the theatre. The courthouse was pretty incredible too, the courthouse has been turned into a museum with loads of historical bits from the local area including some lovely Victorian children’s clothes. Theresa went to the shooting gallery and shot her first hand gun 6 bullets for $3, she pointed the gun too high and the bullet ricocheted off the target and hit a lady in the arm!! On our way out of town we went to Boot hill graveyard where some famous locals are buried, you may even recognise some of the names from the gunfight reenactments.
BY NIGHT: We went on a saloon crawl down Allen Street, ate nachos at Big Nose Kate’s, had some pretty eye-opening conversations with some very welcoming locals at Doc Holidays Saloon then our new friend Nancy took us to The Dragoon Saloon just off Allen Street where we crashed a Steam Punk convention. The locals were super friendly, hilarious and ready to party. We even managed to get our very own bodyguard to escort us back to our boudoir!
THE ACCOMODATION: We stayed at Crazy Annie’s Bordello which was a lovely little place just up from the historical Allen street complete with doughnuts for breakfast, a hot tub and loads of amazing plastic flowers.
What a weekend. If you love history, the Wild West, great times, friendly locals, cowboys and great root beer, visit Tombstone. I could not recommend it highly enough.