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Wild West Western Facts

Tombstone, Arizona

"The Town too Tough to Die

Tombstone, Arizona

Founded: 1879
Incorporated: February 1881

Tombstone has a very storied history, particularly with the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral between the Earps (Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp) and the Clantons (Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLowery) in 1881.

The town began when a man named Edward Lawrence Schieffelin came to Camp Huachuca with soldiers and left to begin prospecting in the area, searching for a rich ore deposit. With Apache Indians nearby threatening settlers and others, he was told he would more likely find his tombstone rather than silver. When he filed his first claim in 1877, he named it “Tombstone”. As word filtered out about the rich silver lodes in the area, the town was given Tombstone as its name (1879) and plans for the town were laid out . Prospectors came a plenty as did the people who would service them: equipment suppliers, bankers, saloons and, of course, ladies of ill repute. Mining boomed in Tombstone for a good seven years until rising underground water caused operations to cease.

The famous gunbattle at the OK Corral was an indication of the lawlessness and violence that took place in Tombstone in its heyday. The slogan, "The Town too Tough to Die", came about after the town survived the depression and the moving of its county seat to nearby Bisbee during the 1930's.

Historical Events of Tombstone, Arizona

1877, August 1
Prospector Edward Lawrence Schieffelin stakes his first mining claim in the area. He names it Tombstone.

1878, Oct
Weekly stagecoach service between Tucson and Tombstone was begun.

1879, Mar 5
The townsite of Tombstone was plotted.

1879, Dec 1
The Earp Brothers came to town.

1879, December
Tombstone was incorporated. William A. Harwood, Esq. became the first mayor.

1880, Feb 22
U.S. Mail service begins in Tombstone on a daily basis.

1880, July 27
Wyatt Earp was appointed the Deputy Sheriff of Pima County at the age of 32 and the first railroad from Tombstone to Tucson was completed.

1880, Sept 9
The Grand Hotel opens.

1880, Oct 28
Virgil Earp was appointed temporary City Marshall. At the time, he was the Deputy U.S. Marshal.

1880, Nov 9
Wyatt Earp resigns the office of Pima County Deputy Sheriff

1881, June 22
Sixty-six businesses were destroyed in a fire that started when a barrel of whiskey exploded at the Arcade Saloon.

1881, Oct 26
The Gunfight at the OK Corral took place around 2:30pm after quite a bit of arguing and physical fighting between the participants. It lasted only about 30 seconds, but once it was over, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead. Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded, Doc (John Henry Holliday) had a scratch and Wyatt was unhurt.

1881, Dec 29
Wyatt Earp appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal over the telegraph.

The Tombstone County Court House was built, containing the county jail and other county offices. The City Hall was also built during this time.

Tombstone founder, Ed Schieffelin sells his holdings to become a millionaire and moves to California.

1882, May 25
A Second fire destroys most of the business district. The fire was again started in a saloon, this time, the Tivoli.

Boothill cemetery full and officially closed to burials.

1892, July
The original Bird Cage Theater closes permanently. Other names of the theater have been the Elite and the Olympic.

County Seat was moved from Tombstone to Bisbee.

1962 Sept 30
Tombstone named a National Historical Landmark.

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