Tombstone is a city in
County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed
Schieffelin in what was then the Arizona Territory.
2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was
Tombstone in 1881
Ed Schieffelin in Tombstone in
In the summer of 1877 prospector Ed
was working the hills east of the San Pedro River
in the southeast
portion of the Arizona Territory, when he came across a vein of
very rich silver ore in a high plateau called Goose Flats. When
Schieffelin filed his mining claim he named it "The Tombstone",
after a warning given him by a passing soldier. While telling the
soldier about his rock collecting experiences, the soldier told him
that the only rock he was likely to collect among the waterless
hills and warring Apaches
of the area would
be his own tombstone.
The town of Tombstone was founded in 1879, taking its name from the
mining claim, and soon became a boomtown
Fueled by mineral wealth, Tombstone was a city of 1000 by the
beginning of 1881, and within another year Tombstone had become the
seat of a new county (Cochise County
with a population between 5,000 and 15,000, and services including
refrigeration (with ice cream and later even ice skating), running
water, telegraph and limited telephone service, and a newspaper
aptly named the Tombstone Epitaph.Capitalists and businessmen moved
in from the eastern U.S. Mining was carried out by immigrants from
Europe, chiefly Ireland and Germany. An extensive service industry
(laundry, construction, restaurants, hotels, etc.) was provided by
Chinese and other immigrants.
Ed Schieffelin monument
Without railroad access the increasingly sophisticated Tombstone
was relatively isolated, deep in a Federal territory that was
largely unpopulated desert and wilderness. Tombstone and its
surrounding countryside also became known as one of the deadliest
regions in the West. Uncivilized southern gangs from the
surrounding countryside, known as "cow-boys", were at odds with the
northern capitalists and immigrant miners who ran the city and
October 26, 1881 this
situation famously exploded in the Gunfight at the
O.K. Corral, leading to a continued family and political feud
that resulted in multiple deaths.
December 25, 1881 the Bird Cage Theater opened, and in 1882 the New York Times reported that "the Bird Cage
Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary
Since Tombstone was in the desert, a company built a pipeline to
supply the town with water. No sooner was this pipeline built than
Tombstone's silver mines struck water.
As a result of relative lack of water and quick wooden
construction, Tombstone experienced major fires in June 1881 and
May 1882. The second fire was particularly destructive and signaled
the end of the classic old boomtown mining city. After the
mid-1880s, when the silver mines had been tapped out, the main pump
failed, causing many mines to be flooded with deep groundwater, and
Tombstone declined rapidly. The U.S. census found it had fewer than
1900 residents in 1890, and fewer than 700 residents in 1900.
The 1900 census was a minimum, however, and Tombstone was saved
from becoming a ghost town
decline of silver mining, partly by its status as the Cochise County
seat. Even the county seat
was later moved by popular vote to nearby Bisbee in 1929.
However, the classic Cochise County
Courthouse and adjacent gallows yard in Tombstone is preserved as a
Tombstone is home to perhaps the most famous graveyard of the
. Buried at the site are various victims of
violence and disease in Tombstone's early years, including those
from the O.K.
Boot Hill (also known as the old city
cemetery) was also the destination for bad-men and those lynched or
legally hanged in Tombstone. Admission to this historic site is
free and donations are accepted.
The lot in
which the historic gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurred in 1881 is also preserved, but this has
been walled off, and admission is charged.
Saloon ladies on Allen Street in
much of this street fight occurred in Tombstone's Fremont Street
(modern Highway 80), much of this site is also viewable without
According to Guinness
world's largest rosebush was planted in Tombstone in 1885 and still
flourishes today in the city's sunny climate. This Lady Banksia rose
now covers of the roof on an
inn, and has a circumference trunk.
Currently, tourism and western memorabilia are the main commercial
enterprises; a July 2005 CNN
article notes that
Tombstone receives approximately 450,000 tourist visitors each
year. This is about 300 tourists/year for each permanent resident.
In contrast to its heyday, when it featured saloons open 24 hours
and numerous houses of prostitution, Tombstone is now a staid
community with few businesses open late.
Performance events help preserve the town's wild-west image and
expose it to new visitors. Helldorado Days
oldest festival, and celebrates the community's wild days of the
1880s. Started in 1929, the festival is held on the
third weekend of every October (loosely corresponding to the date
of the O.K.
Corral gunfight) and consists of
gunfight reenactment shows, street entertainment, fashion shows and
a family-oriented carnival.
Main Event: A Tragedy At The OK Corral
(2007), a stage
play by Stephen Keith
, presents the
cowboys' perspective of the events leading up to the shootout and
is presented inside the actual OK Corral.
Historic District is a National Historic Landmark
Daily reenactment of the famous
The town's focus on tourism has threatened the
town's designation as a National Historic Landmark
, a designation it earned in 1961 as "one of the best
preserved specimens of the rugged frontier
town of the 1870s and '80s." In 2004, the National Park Service
the designation threatened, seeking to work with the community to
develop an appropriate stewardship
program. The inappropriate alterations to the district cited by the
- Placing "historic" dates on new buildings
- Failing to distinguish new construction from historic
- Covering authentic historic elevations with inappropriate
- Replacing historic features instead of repairing them
- Replacing missing historic features with conjectural and
- Building incompatible additions to existing historic structures
and new incompatible buildings within the historic district
- Using illuminated signage, including blinking lights
surrounding historic signs
- Installing hitching rails and Spanish tile-covered store
porches when such architectural features never existed within
Tombstone is located at (31.715940, -110.064827) .
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 4.3 square
miles (11.1 km²), all land.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 1,504
people, 694 households, and 419 families residing in the city. The
was 349.8 per
square mile (135.0/km²). There were 839 housing units at an average
density of 195.1 per square mile (75.3/km²). The racial makeup of
the city was 87.37% White
, 0.60% Black
or African American
, 1.00% Native American
, 0.33% Asian
, 8.18% from other races
, and 2.53% from two
or more races. 24.14% of the population were Hispanic
of any race.
There were 694 households out of which 20.2% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married
living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no
husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 32.9% of all
households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living
alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size
was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.73.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age
of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 19.9% from 25 to 44, 32.5% from 45 to
64, and 23.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
49 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,571, and the
median income for a family was $33,750. Males had a median income
of $26,923 versus $18,846 for females. The per capita income
for the city was
$15,447. About 13.0% of families and 17.4% of the population were
below the poverty line
, including 22.6%
of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.
Tombstone's representation in other Media
Tombstone's unique heritage has made the town a popular reference
point in television, film, and music, portraying open conflict
(between, in this case, rural farmers involved in the cattle-trade,
and businessmen who were managing local silver mines).
From 1957 to 1960 Tombstone was featured in the ABC
and later syndicated western television series Tombstone Territory
as Sheriff Clay Hollister and
Claibourne, editor of The
Tombstone Epitaph newspaper
Tombstone has lent its name to many Western
movies over the years, including but
not limited to Sheriff of
Men of Tombstone
(1949), Toughest Gun in Tombstone
(1958), Five Guns to
(1960), and Tombstone
The Brazilian countrycore quartet Matanza
have a song named Tombstone City.
has a song named Tombstone Blues
, it appears on the album
Highway 61 Revisited
Singer/songwriter Carl Perkins
song titled "The Ballad Of Boot Hill", which focused on Billy Clanton
's role in the Gunfight at the
O.K. Corral. It was recorded by Johnny
for his 1965 Columbia
album Sings the Ballads of the True
- This Month in History, p. 10, Arizona Highways,