Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona
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Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then Pima County, Arizona Territory. 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 to million in silver bullion, the largest productive silver district in Arizona. Its population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than 7 years. In 1881, it became the county seat of the new Cochise County.
Far distant from any other metropolitan city, by mid-1881 Tombstone boasted a bowling alley, four churches, an ice house, a school, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, and numerous dancing halls and brothels. All of these were situated among and on top of a large number of dirty, hardscrabble mines. The gentlemen and ladies of Tombstone attended operas presented by visiting acting troupes at the Schieffelin Hall opera house, while the miners and cowboys saw shows at the Bird Cage Theatre, "the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast."
Under the surface were tensions that grew into deadly conflict. Many of the ranchers in the area were Confederate sympathizers and Democrats. The capitalists and townspeople were largely Republicans from the Northern states. The fast-growing city, only 30 miles (48 km) from the U.S./Mexico border, was a wide-open market for beef stolen from ranches in Sonora, Mexico by a gang of outlaws known as The Cowboys. These men were a loosely organized band of friends and acquaintances who teamed up for various crimes and came to each other’s aid.
The Earp brothers—Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren Earp—arrived in December 1879 and the summer of 1880. All 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.
In the mid-1880s, the silver mines penetrated the water table and the mining companies made significant investments in specialized pumps. A fire in 1886 destroyed the Grand Central hoist and pumping plant, and it was unprofitable to rebuild the costly pump. Mining operations virtually ended. The city’s population dwindled to a low of about 800 in the early 20th century but has stabilized at about 1500 residents. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 1,569. The city’s economy today is based on tourism.
Ed Schieffelin was briefly a scout for the U. S. Army headquartered at Camp Huachuca. Schieffelin frequently searched the wilderness looking for valuable ore samples. At the Santa Rita mines in nearby Santa Cruz Valley, three superintendents had been killed by Indians. When friend and fellow Army Scout Al Sieber learned what Schieffelin was up to, he is quoted as telling him, "The only rock you will find out there will be your own tombstone". Another account reported Schieffelin’s friends told him, "Better take your coffin with you; you will find your tombstone there, and nothing else."
In 1877, Schieffelin used Brunckow’s cabin as a base of operations to survey the country. After many months, Ed was working the hills east of the San Pedro River when he found pieces of silver ore in dry wash on a high plateau called Goose Flats. It took him several more months to find the source. When he located the vein, he estimated the vein to be fifty feet long and twelve inches wide. Schieffelin’s legal mining claim was sited near Lenox’s grave site, and on September 21, 1877, Schieffelin filed his first claim and Schieffelin fittingly named his stake Tombstone.
When the first claims were filed, the initial settlement of tents and cabins was located at Watervale near the Lucky Cuss mine. Former Territorial Governor Anson P.K. Safford offered financial backing for a cut of the mining claim, and Ed Schieffelin, his brother Al, and their partner Richard Gird formed the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company and built a stamping mill. When the mill was being built, U.S. Deputy Mineral Surveyor Solon M. Allis finished surveying the new town’s site, which was revealed on March 5, 1879 to an eager public. The tents and shacks near the Lucky Cuss were moved to new town site on Goose Flats, a mesa above the Toughnut 4,539 feet (1,383 m) above sea level and large enough to hold a growing town. Lots were immediately sold on Allen Street for .00 each. The town soon had some 40 cabins and about 100 residents. By the fall of 1879 a few thousand hardy souls were living in a canvas and matchstick camp perched among the richest silver strike in the Arizona Territory.
At the town’s founding in March 1879, it took its name from Schieffelin’s initial mining claim. Consisting mostly of wooden shacks and tents, it had a population of 100. When Cochise County was formed from the eastern portion of Pima County on February 1, 1881, Tombstone became the new county seat. Telegraph service to the town was established that same month. In early March, 1880, the Schieffelin’s Tombstone Mining and Milling Company which owned the Tough Nut mine, among others, was sold to investors from Philadelphia. Two months later it was reported that the Tough Nut mine was working a vein of silver ore 90 feet (27 m) across that assayed at 0 per ton, with some ore assaying at ,000 a ton.
On September 9, 1880, the richly appointed Grand Hotel was opened, adorned with fine oil paintings, thick Brussels carpets, toilet stands, elegant chandeliers, silk-covered furniture, walnut furniture, a kitchen with hot and cold running water. At the height of the silver mining boom, when the population was about 10,000, the city was host to Kelly’s Wine House featuring 26 varieties of wine imported from Europe, a beer imported from Colorado named "Coors", cigars, a bowling alley, and many other amenities common to large cities.
Under the surface were other tensions aggravating the simmering distrust. Most of the Cowboys were Confederate sympathizers and Democrats from Southern states, especially Texas. The mine and business owners, miners, townspeople and city lawmen including the Earps were largely Republicans from the Northern states. There was also the fundamental conflict over resources and land, of traditional, Southern-style, “small government” agrarianism of the rural Cowboys contrasted to Northern-style industrial capitalism.
In the early 1880s, smuggling and theft of cattle, alcohol, and tobacco across the U.S./Mexico border about 30 miles (48 km) from Tombstone were common. The Mexican government taxed these items heavily and smugglers earned a handsome profit by sneaking these products across the border. The illegal cross-border smuggling contributed to the lawlessness of the region. Many of these crimes were carried out by outlaw elements labeled "Cow-boys", a loosely organized band of friends and acquaintances who teamed up for various crimes and came to each other’s aid. The San Francisco Examiner wrote in an editorial, "Cowboys [are] the most reckless class of outlaws in that wild country…infinitely worse than the ordinary robber."At that time during the 1880s in Cochise County it was an insult to call a legitimate cattleman a "Cowboy." Legitimate cowmen were referred to as cattle herders or ranchers. The Cowboys were nonetheless welcome in town because of their free-spending habits but shootings were common.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Main article: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
On the evening of March 15, 1881, three Cowboys attempted to rob a Kinnear & Company stagecoach carrying US,000 in silver bullion (about 8,531 in today’s dollars) en route from Tombstone to Benson, Arizona, the nearest railroad freight terminal. 180 Near Drew’s Station, just outside of Contention City, the popular and well-known driver Eli ‘Budd’ Philpot and a passenger named Peter Roerig riding in the rear dickey seat were both shot and killed. Deputy U.S. Marshal Sheriff Virgil Earp and his temporary deputies and brothers Wyatt Earp and Morgan Earp pursued the Cowboys suspected of the murders. This set off a chain of events that culminated in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which the lawmen killed Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton.
The gunfight was the result of a personal, family, and political feud. Three months later on the evening of December 28, 1881 Virgil Earp was ambushed and seriously wounded on the streets of Tombstone by hidden assailants shooting from the second story of an unfinished building. Although identified, the suspects were not prosecuted. On March 18, 1882, Morgan Earp was killed by a shot that struck his spine while playing billiards at 10:00 p.m. Once again, the assailants were named but escaped arrest. Wyatt Earp, concluding that legal justice was out of reach, led a posse that pursued and killed four of the men they held responsible on what became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride.
After the Earp family left Arizona, it was left to future Sheriffs to finish the job of clearing the county of outlaws. John Slaughter was elected Cochise County Sheriff in 1886 and served two terms. He hired Burt Alford, who as a 15 year old boy had witnessed the shootout between the Earps and Cowboys. Alford served very effectively for three years until he began to drink heavily and began to associate with outlaws.
Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton, killed in the O.K. Corral shootout, are buried in the town’s Boot Hill cemetery (this is the "Old City Cemetery," used after 1883 only to bury outlaws and a few others). "Boot Hill" refers to the number of men who died with their boots on. Among a number of pioneer Boot Hill cemeteries in the Old West, Boot Hill in Tombstone is among the most well-known.Marshal Fred White, killed by Curly Bill Brocius, is also among the approximately 300 people buried there. It had a separate Jewish cemetery, which is nearby. With a new city cemetery built elsewhere, the old cemetery stopped accepting new burials in about 1883 (save for very few exceptions) and fell into disrepair until the 1940s, when the city began to restore and preserve the graveyard.
One of the most well known markers belongs to Lester Moore. He was a Wells, Fargo & Co. station agent in the Mexican border town of Naco, Arizona Territory. One afternoon Hank Dunstan appeared to claim a package due him. When he got it, he found it thoroughly mangled. The two men argued, and then both Moore and Dunstan drew their weapons. Dunstan got off four shots, hitting Moore in the chest with his .44 caliber revolver. Dunstan was mortally wounded with a hole through his ribs by the single shot Moore had squeezed off. Les Moore was buried in Boot Hill, and his famous tombstone epitaph remains an attraction in the cemetery.
HERE LIES LESTER MOORE, FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44, NO LES NO MORE
The cemetery is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Silver mining in Arizona
Tombstone boomed, but founder Ed Schieffelin was more interested in prospecting than owning a mine. Ed was one-third partners with his brother Al Schieffelin and Richard Gird. He left Tombstone to find more ore and when he returned four months later, Gird had lined up buyers for their interest in the Contention claim, which they sold for ,000. It would later yield millions in silver. They sold a half-interest in the Lucky Cuss, and the other half turned into a steady stream of money. Al and Ed Schieffelin later sold their two-thirds interest in the Tough Nut for US million, and sometime later Gird sold his one-third interest for the same amount.
There are widely varying estimates of the value of gold and silver mined during the course of Tombstone’s history. The Tombstone mines produced 32 million troy ounces (1,000 metric tons) of silver, more than any other mining district in Arizona. In 1883, writer Patrick Hamilton estimated that during the first four years of activity the mines produced about USD ,000,000 (approximately 6 million today). Other estimates include USD to USD million (about .02 billion to .17 billion today). Renewed mining is planned for the area.
One of the byproducts of the vast riches being produced, lawsuits became very prevalent. Between 1880 and 1885 the courts were clogged with a large number of cases, many of them about land claims and properties. As a result, lawyers began to settle in Tombstone and became even wealthier than the miners and those who financed the mining. In addition, because many of the lawsuits required expert analysis of the underground, many geologists and engineers found employment in Tombstone and settled there. In the end, a thorough mapping of the area was completed by experts which resulted in maps documenting Tombstone’s mining claims better than any other mining district of the West.
Mining was an easy task at Tombstone in the early days, ore being rich and close to the surface. One man could pull out ore equal to what three men produced elsewhere. Some residents of Tombstone became quite wealthy and spent considerable money during its boom years. Tombstone’s first newspaper, the Nugget, was established in the fall of 1879. The Tombstone Epitaph was founded on May 1, 1880. As the fastest growing boomtown in the American southwest, the silver industry and attendant wealth attracted many professionals and merchants who brought their wives and families. With them came churches and ministers. They brought a Victorian sensibility and became the town’s elite. Many citizens of Tombstone dressed well and up-to-date fashion could be seen in this growing mining town. Visitors expressed their amazement at the quality and diversity of products that were readily available in the area. The men who worked the mines were largely European immigrants. The Chinese did the town’s laundry and provided other services. The Cowboys ran the countryside and stole cattle from haciendas across the international border in Sonora, Mexico.
When the railroad was not built into Tombstone as had been planned, the increasingly sophisticated city of Tombstone remained relatively isolated, deep in a Federal territory that was largely an unpopulated desert and wilderness. Tombstone and its surrounding countryside also became known as one of the deadliest regions in the West. Water was hauled in until the Huachuca Water Company, funded in part by investors like Dr. George E. Goodfellow, built a 23 miles (37 km)-long pipeline from the Huachuca Mountains in 1881. No sooner was a pipeline completed than Tombstone’s silver mines struck water.
City growth and decline
Due to poor building practices and poor fire protection common to boomtown construction, Tombstone was hit by two major fires. On June 22, 1881, the first fire destroyed 66 businesses making up the eastern half of the business district. The fire began when a lit cigar ignited a barrel of whiskey in the Arcade Saloon.
By mid-1881 there were fancy restaurants, Vogan’s Bowling Alley,
four churches—Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Methodist—an ice house, a school, the Schieffelin Hall opera house, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, several Chinese restaurants, French, two Italian, numerous Mexican, several upscale "Continental" establishments, and many "home cooking" hot spots including Nellie Cashman’s famous Rush House and numerous brothels all situated among and on top of a number of dirty, hardscrabble mines. The Arizona Telephone Company began installing poles and lines for city’s first telephone service on March 15, 1881.
Capitalists from the north-eastern United States bought many of the leading mining operations. The mining itself was carried out by immigrants from Europe, chiefly Cornwall, Ireland and Germany. Chinese and Mexican labor provided services including laundry, construction, restaurants, hotels, and more.
The mines and stamping mills ran three shifts. Miners were paid union wages of USD.00 per day working six, 10-hour shifts per week. The approximately 6,000 men working in Tombstone generated more than 8,000 a week (approximately ,139,400 today) in income. The mostly young, single, male population spent their hard-earned cash on Allen Street, the major commercial center, open 24 hours a day.
The respectable folks saw traveling theater shows at Schieffelin Hall, opened on June 8, 1881. On December 25, 1881 the Bird Cage Theatre opened on Allen Street, offering the miners and Cowboys their kind of bawdy entertainment. In 1882 the New York Times reported that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast." The Bird Cage remained open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year until it closed its doors in 1889. Respectable women stayed on the north side of Allen Street. The prostitutes worked the saloons on the south side and in the southeast quarter of the town, as far as possible from the proper residential section north of Fremont Street.
By late 1881 Tombstone had more than 7,000 citizens, excluding all Chinese, Mexicans, women and children residents. At the height of the town’s boom, the official population reached about 10,000, with several thousand more uncounted. In 1882 the Cochise County Courthouse was built at a cost of around ,000.
On May 25, 1882, another, more destructive fire started in a Chinese laundry on Fifth Street between Toughnut and Allen streets. It destroyed the Grand Hotel and the Tivoli Saloon before it jumped Fremont Street, destroying more than 100 businesses and most of the business district. Lacking enough water to put out the flames, buildings in the fire’s path were dynamited to deny the fire fuel. Total damages were estimated to be USD 0,000, far more than the estimated 0,000 insurance coverage. But rebuilding started right away nonetheless.
In March 1883 along one short stretch of Allen Street, there were drinking establishments in two principal hotels, the Eagle Brewery, Cancan Chop-House, French Rotisserie, Alhambra, Maison Dore, City of Paris, Brown’s Saloon, Fashion Saloon, Miners’ Home, Kelly’s Wine-House, the Grotto, the Tivoli, and two more unnamed saloons.
Mines strike water
The Tough Nut Mine first experienced seepage in 1880. In March 1881, the Sulphuret Mine struck water at 520 feet (160 m). A year later, in March 1882, miners in a new shaft of the Grand Central Mine hit water at 620 feet (190 m). The flow wasn’t at first large enough to stop work, but experienced miners thought the water flow would increase, and it did. Soon constant pumping with a 4 inches (100 mm) pump was insufficient. The silver ore deposits they sought were soon underwater.
Several mine managers traveled to San Francisco and met with the principal owners of the Contention Mine. They talked about options for draining the mines, and found the only system available for pumping water out of mines below 400 feet (120 m) was the Cornish engine which had been used at the Comstock Lode in the 1870s. They bought and installed the huge Cornish engines in the Contention and Grand Central mines. By mid-February, 1884 the engines were removing 576,000 US gallons (2,180,000 l; 480,000 imp gal) of water every twenty-four hours. The city merchants celebrated the continued success of mining and the transfer of funds to their businesses. The Contention and the Grand Central found that their pumps were draining the mining district, benefiting other mines as well, but the other companies refused to pay a proportion of the expense.
On May 26, 1886, the Grand Central hoist and pumping plant burned. The fire was so intense that the metal components of the Cornish engine melted and warped. The headworks of the main mine shaft were also destroyed. Shortly afterward, the price of silver slid to 90 cents an ounce. The mines that remained operational laid off workers. Individuals who had thought about leaving Tombstone when the mine flooding started now took action. The price of silver briefly recovered for a while and a few mines began producing again, but never at the level reached in the early 1880s.
The U.S. census recorded fewer than 1900 residents in 1890 and fewer than 700 residents in 1900. Tombstone was saved from becoming a ghost town partly because it remained the Cochise County seat until 1929, when county residents voted to move county offices to nearby Bisbee. The classic Cochise County Courthouse and adjacent gallows yard in Tombstone are preserved as a museum.
The open lot or alleyway where the historic Gunfight at the O.K. Corral started has been preserved, but has been surrounded by a wall. Mannequins are used to depict the location of the participants as recorded by Wyatt Earp. Visitors may pay to see a reenactment of the gunfight at 2:00 p.m. each day. Fremont Street (modern Arizona Highway 80), where portions of the gunfight took place, is open to the public.
According to Guinness, the 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 8,000 sq ft (740 m2) of the roof on an inn, and has a 12 ft (3.7 m) circumference trunk. The rose bush is also walled off, and admission is charged.
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 is Tombstone’s oldest festival, and celebrates the community’s wild days of the 1880s. Started in 1929 (coincidentally the year Wyatt Earp died), the festival is held on the third weekend of every October, near the anniversary date of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and consists of gunfight reenactment shows, street entertainment, fashion shows and a family-oriented carnival. Tombstone’s Main Event: A Tragedy At The OK Corral, a stage play by Stephen Keith, is presented inside the O.K. Corral. It depicts the Cowboys’ version of events in which the Earps shot the Cowboys as they attempted to surrender.
The Tombstone Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District. The town’s focus on tourism has threatened the town’s designation as a National Historic Landmark District, 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 declared that the Tomb’s historic designation was threatened, and asked the community to develop an appropriate stewardship program.
Cochise County Courthouse in Tombstone, Arizona, before it was restored. It remained vacant from 1931 through 1955, when it was redeveloped as a museum.
The National Park Service noted inappropriate alterations to the district included:
Placing "historic" dates on new buildings
Failing to distinguish new construction from historic structures
Covering authentic historic elevations with inappropriate materials
Replacing historic features instead of repairing them
Replacing missing historic features with conjectural and unsubstantiated materials
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
Historical buildings include Schieffelin Hall, the opera house built by Al Schieffelin in 1881, and the Cochise County Courthouse. The courthouse was largely unused and then vacant after the county seat was moved to Bisbee. An attempt was made to turn it into hotel in the 1940s, and when that failed it stood empty until 1955. The Tombstone Restoration Commission acquired the courthouse and developed it as a histiorical museum that opened in 1959. It features exhibits and thousands of artifacts documenting Tombstone’s past.
Geography and geology
The Tombstone District located at 31°42′57″N 110°3′53″W (31.715940, -110.064827) sits atop a mesa (elevation 4,539 feet (1,383 m)) in the San Pedro River valley between the Huachuca Mountains and Whetstone Mountains to the west, and the Mules and the Dragoon Mountains to the east. The silver-bearing Tombstone Hills around the city are caused by a local upheaval of porphyry through a limestone capping.
When actively mined, the silver vein of argentiferous galena (silver bearing lead) was large and well defined. The silver and lead was easily milled and smelted. The lead content sometimes was as much as 50 per cent of the ore, and assays proved the silver content ran as high as 5.00 per ton in 1881 dollars.
The underlying basement rocks are fine-grained Pinal Schist which is intruded by gneissic granite. The outcrop is in a small area south of the principal mines. The overlying Paleozoic quartzite and limestones rock lies in an unconformity with a total thickness ranging from 4,000 feet (1,200 m) to 5,000 feet (1,500 m), and contains 2,500 feet (760 m) to 3,500 feet (1,100 m) of Mississippian Escabrosa and Naco formation limestones of Pennsylvanian age in the upper formations.
Overlying the Naco Limestone is an unconformable Mesozoic series of conglomerate, thick-bedded quartzites, and shales, with two or three lenses of soft, bluish-gray limestone. Into these formations intrude intruded great bodies of quartz monzonite and by dikes of quartz monzonite-porphyry and diorite-porphyry. Structural faulting throughout the district especially immediately south of Tombstone, where the strata are closely folded.
Tombstone District ores have been produced geologically in three or more ways.
They may have been formed in argentiferous (silver bearing) lead sulfide containing spotty amounts of copper and zinc. These deposits are usually deeply oxidized and enriched by irregular replacement bodies along mineralized fissure zones and anticlinal rolls cut by Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary formations. Ore bodies are often closely associated with newer cross-cutting intrusive dikes of Laramide.
Ore deposits were formed by Base metal mineralization occurs with oxidation found in fault and fracture zones in Laramide volcanics and quartz latite porphyry intrusive.
Silver ore was also formed in Manganese oxides with some argentiferous deposits in lenticular or pipe-like replacement bodies along fracture and fault zones, usually in Pennsylvanian-Permian era Naco Group limestones.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,504 people, 694 households, and 419 families residing in the city. The population density 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 or Latino 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 couples 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 age distribution of the population shows 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 ,571, and the median income for a family was ,750. Males had a median income of ,923 versus ,846 for females. The per capita income for the city was ,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. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 1,569.
Daily reenactment of the famous fight
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).
Tombstone has lent its name to many Western movies over the years, including but not limited to Sheriff of Tombstone (1941), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993), and Wyatt Earp (1994).
The Brazilian countrycore quartet Matanza have a song named Tombstone City. Bob Dylan has a song named Tombstone Blues, it appears on the album Highway 61 Revisited. Singer/songwriter Carl Perkins wrote a 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 Cash in 1959, but it went unreleased until 1965 for his Columbia Records album Sings the Ballads of the True West. The first line of the Mason Proffit song "Two Hangmen" has the narrator of the song "riding into Tombstone."
The Doctor Who serial The Gunfighters is set in Tombstone.
From 1957 to 1960, Tombstone was featured in the ABC and later syndicated Western television series Tombstone Territory starring Pat Conway as Sheriff Clay Hollister and Richard Eastham as Harris Claibourne, editor of The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper.
On October 11, 2006, Tombstone was featured in episode #301 of the Syfy series Ghost Hunters. The TAPS crew led by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson visit the Birdcage Theatre, which was a popular night spot frequently visited by legends such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. TAPS tries to determine if the place is haunted by spirits of old patrons of the Old West.
On July 3, 2009, the Birdcage Theatre was once again investigated for paranormal activity by the Travel Channel series Ghost Adventures crew. Ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin investigate the building while being locked in overnight to find any evidence of its reported ghostly occupants.
On October 13, 2009, Discovery Channel aired an Tombstone episode of Ghost Lab in which Everyday Paranormal investigated the Birdcage Theater, the Crystal Palace, and Boothill cemetery, as well as looked in a silver mine for a possible source of energy to fuel the large amount of paranormal activity in the city. In the Boothill cemetery, they captured a picture of an alleged "shadow person".
On November 16, 2011, SyFy featured a landmark in Tombstone on the series Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, in which the team investigated the Bird Cage Theatre, apparently haunted by a coffin-shaped apparition. The theatre was known for over 26 deaths. SyFy has aired two episodes on two different series investigating the theatre, the other series being Ghost Hunters.
Tombstone Unified School District serves Tombstone. The district schools in Tombstone are Walter J. Meyer Elementary School and Tombstone High School. Residents of the Tombstone school district are within the Cochise Technology District.
Several properties in Tombstone have been included in the National Register of Historic Places. The following are images of some of these properties:
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