We have spent the last week in Tombstone, AZ at the Wells Fargo RV Park. Tombstone is located in what is know as the “high desert” of Arizona, the temperatures are little more bearable than those of Casa Grande, about 10-15 degrees lower during the day so about 98 degrees has been the high and since this is monsoon season we have had a rain storm every night this week, that really helps cool it off for sleeping.
Wells Fargo is a nice enough park, clean and well kept, the sites are pretty close together but since this is not prime tourist season we aren’t crowded at all. The best thing about Wells Fargo is that it is within walking distance, about a block from all the activities in downtown Tombstone. First I have to say that Tombstone is kind of a “tourist trap”, lots of things to spend money on, but we really have enjoyed every minute of it. Bob has always enjoyed western movies and the stories of Wyatt Earp and Tombstone have been some of his favorites so he is in his glory here.
Tombstone has been preserved as an authentic 1880 western town featuring well know attractions like the OK Corral, Boothill Graveyard, the Bird Cage Theatre, the Tombstone Epitaph, the newspaper that covered the gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881, along with the Crystal Palace Saloon, and Big Nose Kate’s Saloon where notables like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Johnny Ringo gathered to drink and gamble. Three blocks of Tombstone are closed off to traffic; there are covered wooden sidewalks in front of the many shops and saloons. There are plenty of character actors in costume strolling the streets, working in the saloons and staging gunfights: there are also tourists who dress up in wild west outfits, it is hard to tell which ones are being paid to act and which ones just want to join in the fun. You can even rent outfits to wear for the day, we didn’t do that but it looks like it would be a lot of fun. We took a narrated trolley tour around the city and to Boot Hill; then we took in a gunfight type comedy show at one end of town and went to watch a reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral at the other end. One evening we were having dinner at the Longhorn Restaurant while the Earp brothers gathered in the street on their way to the gunfight, of course Doc Holliday was nearby lounging in front of one of the saloons. The actor who portrayed Doc was a pretty good likeness to Val Kilmer, who played that role in the movie Tombstone. Another afternoon we had lunch at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, one of the original saloons in town and enjoyed listening to a couple of guitar playing, singing “cowboys”. We visited many of the museums, gift shops and antique stores. One of the museums is the home of the world’s largest Rose bush, the root came from Scotland in 1885 and it currently covers over 8,000 square feet. We toured the Bird Cage Theatre, in 1882 the New York Times referred to the Birdcage as the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast. Some of the most famous characters of western history came to the Birdcage, to gamble, drink and be entertained. It didn’t look like much by today’s standards but I’m sure in the 1880’s it was quite a wild place. We also took a short tour of town in an original Butterfield Overland Stage pulled by two mules. This week in Tombstone has been like a walk through history.
To maintain the old west feeling of Tombstone there are no modern shopping areas in town and the only place to get any groceries are small convenience stores with just the barest necessities, so one afternoon we drove to Sierra Vista about 16 miles east of town. Another afternoon we drove to Bisbee, AZ about 25 miles south of Tombstone. In the 1880’s Bisbee was a booming mining community and the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. Today Bisbee still maintains the charm of an old west town and many of the Victorian buildings now house antique stores, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Both of those day trips took us though some very scenic countryside.