Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stagecoach, Tombstone Courthouse and Boot Hill

DSCN9608After a fun filled lunch watching the locals at Big Nose Kate’s we took a stagecoach ride around town.  Our driver took us back in time as explained the town and how things were laid out before the fires that destroyed the town through today’s time.  We saw homes that Wyatt Earp and his brothers allegedly lived in; where the “hanging judge” lived; sheriff lived; court house and the location of the largest rose bush in Texas.  It was fun and interesting and something worth the money of the “tourist” things in town. 

DSCN9667From the stagecoach we went to see and tour the Tombstone Courthouse which is a state historical park maintained by the State of Texas.  It was built in 1882 and housed the sheriff, jail, courthouse and other city officials of Tombstone.  It has two stories and is a museum of the history of Tombstone with exhibits in each room that shows the history of the town as it has grown from the miners to the tourist town of today.  The gallows where seven men were hung are still in the courtyard with a display of the invitation to the hanging being displayed inside.  DSCN9682DSCN9677DSCN9674

The courthouse and museum inside is great and worth the $3.00 entry fee.

On our way out of town we stopped at Boothill.  We both have heard about it a lot through the years on western shows and such.  We really want to see for ourselves what it was all about and like and were really surprise. 

The “Tombstone Cemetery” was first laid out in 1878 and it was where early pioneers were buried.  In 1884 it was open as a general burial place.  The graveyard was neglected and much of it went back to nature over the  years.  Finally the town realized its importance and worked hard to preserve it and now it is a national historical location and protected.  There are a lot of tales of how Boothill got it name but really is it not as exciting as Hollywood would like us to believe.  Because of the many violent deaths of the early days the cemetery just became known Boothill Graveyard.  There are outlaws, outlaw’s victims, suicides, hangings, everyday citizens and many refined elements of Tombstone’s early day buried here.  The guys that were killed in the shoot out at the O K Corral are buried here.  There is a descriptive list of the more than 250 graves that you can purchase upon entry that explain as much as possible of the graves and how the people died that are buried in Boothill.  This is information that has been gathered through the years, researched and discussed with heirs.  We really enjoyed our visit to Boothill.


We really enjoyed our visit to Tombstone and going back into time of the wild west.  Guess my Redneck Cowboy was at home – lol

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shoot out at the OK Corral–Tombstone, AZ

100px-Seal_of_Tombstone,_Arizona[1]Tombstone was, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin who briefly was a scout for the US Army out of Camp Huachuca.  He searched the area and the mountains for valuable ore and finally found silver working the hills east of the San Pedro River in a dry wash.  Schieffelin had been told by friends and fellow scouts all he was ever going to find in the area was  going to be his own Tombstone as many had been killed by Indians in the area.  After he found the silver vein and filed his claim, naming it Tombstone.

After the filing of his claim of course everyone wanted a piece of the pie and the area grew.  Tents and shacks started popping up and soon the town was formed.  Lots were soon being sold at $5.00 each on what is now known as Allen Street and this silver find was soon the richest silver strike in the Arizona Territory.


Tombstone was one of the last boomtowns of the Old West and grew due to the silver mine. Mining was all Tombstone was about during the early years and with claims being filed there was just as many lawsuits filed regarding claim jumpers.  Lawyers came and set up practice in Tombstone and the courts were clogged with lawsuits.  As a result mappers were brought in and Tombstone became one the most expertly mapped mining communities in the West.

In the early 1880s, smuggling cattle theft, alcohol, and tobacco across the U.S./Mexico border were common. The Mexican government taxed these items heavily and smugglers earned a handsome profit by sneaking these products across the border.  Prostitution “tents” were established up and down Toughnut Street and many of prostitutes got their start and finish in these tents. 

DSCN9747The Tombstone Epitaph started May 1, 1880 and was a co-owned by John Clum who was an Indian agent at the San Carlos Reservation.  He was the first person that captured Geronimo, placed him in leg irons and took him to the San Carlos Reservation.  Geronimo was released and Clum turned resigned as the Indian Agent, (government inability to act timely – no different from today lol) move to Tombstone and was the first mayor of Tombstone.  Later years he lead a posse that chased after Geronimo once when he came close to Tombstone.  In this posse was the famous Earp brothers, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan.

Tombstone had a lot of wealth and money was spent freely during its boom years.  The town had become a leading town in the West in fashion and society, but still had their wild “cowboys” side.  The miners were largely European immigrants and the Chinese did the town’s laundry and provided other services. DSCN9607 DSCN9579






In 1881 the Tombstone silver mine struck water and flooded the mines bringing a end to mining.  Also in June 1881 the town was hit by it first of two major fires.  This fire destroyed most of the eastern half of the business district on Allen Street and was started with a lit cigar that ignited a barrel of whiskey.

This did not slow the town down as they started to rebuild and came back strong.  The miners installed the huge Cornish engines in the mines to pump the water out and by mid-February 1884, the engines were removing 576,000 US gallons  of water every twenty-four hours. 

DSCN9581The rich had traveling theaters brought in to the Schieffelin Hall which they built after the fire for their entertainment purposes.  then the miners and Cowboys had the Bird Cage Theatre open on Allen Street for their entertainment. 

The Bird Cage was notedDSCN9577 to be the wildest, wickedest night spot in the West and was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until it closed in 1889. The Bird Cage was the only original building that is left standing and survived both fires that occurred in Tombstone.  There is so much history in this theatre and you can still see bullet holes in the walls from all the shoot outs and fights that occurred through the years.  This is also one the major locations in which Doc Holiday gambled. 

DSCN9659Now we all know the story about the fight at the OK Corral between the Wyatt Brothers and the Clanton and McLaury so of course when you are there you have to go visit that area and see the gunfight.  The OK Corral was not a corral as Hollywood would like for you to believe but rather it was a blacksmith shop and the shoot out occurred in lot behind the OK Corral that was next to the CS Fly’s Boarding House and Photo Studio.  History has now revealed more about the shootout and the location of where the parties of the fight took places.  Hollywood sure made some money on created what Tombstone and the shootout was but not based on facts, but what else is new for Hollywood.


These pictures are recreation of the actual fight with mannequins and the drawing is an actual drawing made by Wyatt for the court case that followed the shooting.  The fight took all of 30 seconds and over 30 rounds were fired.  Tom McLaury was shot by a blast of Doc Holliday shotgun; Frank McLaury fell on Fremont Street and was shot in the head; Billy Clanton was shot by Morgan Earp; Virgil and Morgan Earp were badly wounded; Doc Holliday suffered a superficial hip wound and Wyatt was the only one that walked away unscathed.

In the Fly’s boarding house next to alley where the shootoutDSCN9660 occurred was Doc’s “girlfriend” Fat Nose Kate.  It is said that she stood at the window and watched the entire thing.  The entire transcript of the trial that pursued the shootout can be obtained from The Tombstone Epitaph.  They have it on display at the Epitaph office now and makes for some interesting reading.

After the shootout we headed over to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for lunch.  What a fun place as there was a large group of  locals that were there and they were fun to watch.  The food was good and we had a great time.  It is said that Big Nose Kate got her name not from a big nose but because she was always sticking her nose into everyone’s business and was involved in everything she had no business being involved in.  She was Doc Holliday’s girlfriend and owned one of the local saloons and brothel

There is so much to see in and around Tombstone and if you really like history and want to take everything you really need two days.  We only did one day and really did not get to get to everything.  Our afternoon events and I will cover in the next chapter as this one is getting long – off we go to the stagecoach now  . . .


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Chiricahua National Monument

One of the places in the country that makes you marble at the wonders that God has created on this Earth.  What an amazing place.  I will say as I have said before pictures do not do this place justice, but this time I mean it more than I ever have.  Pictures just cannot show you the beauty that is here.

First a little history lesson so that you will understand the importance of these mountains and the beauty that lays within.  If you are coming to the area I would recommend that you first stop in Willcox and go to the Chiricahua Regional Museum as a lot can be explained in there about the area and it history.  These mountains were form from the eruption of the Turkey Creek Volcano and were form from the ash that melted together.  Cooling and weather of ice and erosion formed the cracks and the weaker particulars were wash away leaving the variety of spires, balanced rocks and different shapes.  God’s hand was truly at work here as the forms left leave so much to your imagination.  Fred and I found teapots, rabbits, totem poles, and many other items, it is so left up to you and your imagination as to what you see in these rocks.  The shapes are as different as the clouds you see in the sky as a kid trying to figures out what they look like. 

As far back as the 1400’s the Chiricahua Apaches have lived in these mountains.  The valley area around is a sea of grassland, cactus and mesquite.  As you travel up the mountain there are sycamore, juniper, oak, cypress, pine and fir woodlands.  All of which houses all types of wildlife and plants that the Apaches made their home from and/or ate.  Of note, the Apaches never ate fish or bear; fish were to much like snakes which were evil and the bear was to much like man.  Apaches called these mountains and their shapes as “standing up rocks” and they served them well through the years for protection as it was so easy to hid in them.  These are the mountains and the Dragoon Mountains, (which is across the meadow from the Chiricahua Mountains) in which the greatest of all the Chiricahua Chief, Cochise, hid from the army for years.  The mountains themselves honor Cochise.

In 1888 Swedish immigrants Erickson settled here and started a homestead.  In the 1920’s their daughter and her husband turned it into a guest ranch and up until 1973 people came to relax, bird and hike the hills.  They worked for years to get the area protected and in 1924 the Chiricahus National Monument was established.  In 1934 the CCC came in and improved the road, hiking trails and many of the structures including the old homestead and it additions added through the years.  The park covers over 11,000 acres of which most is designated as wilderness. 

The drive to the mountains is not one of the best but it is worth the drive.  You will go to Willcox and go about 35 miles southeast through the grassland of empty field, cattle, and farming.  There is one small area of hill that you cross but nothing of interest to see along the way.  This is the best route into the park from what I have read as some of the other routes are not paved road.  Once you enter the park the cemetery of the Faraway/Erickson is on your right.  Further down you will come to a picnic area that runs along the Bonita Creek and lead pass the old homestead – Faraway Ranch and Stafford Cabin.


As you get to the Visitor Center you began to see some of the beauty and amazing rock formation that are hidden within these mountains.  The wildlife is everywhere and do not seem to really be phased by people.  In fact the Mexican jays are all over and will sit and pose for you to take their pictures.  Here at the Visitor Center is where you get the map and all the information about the park and pay your fee.  There is 8 mile scenic drive up to Massai Point where all the views are at a 360 degree view, trails everywhere for hiking, picnic areas, and camping sites.  The camping is primarily tent but you can get up to a 26 feet trailer and/or a RV up to 29 feet per the park service. 

There are a number of pull out up the scenic drive, but we were told to go to the top and then on our way down take the pull outs as the views are better as you come down.  Ranger knows best as he was right; we did both and the views were better on the way down. At Massai Point we parked and walked out one of the hiking trails and OMG – if you ever doubt the amazement of God’s creation of this earth you will no longer doubt once you see it.  There was a formation at the beginning of the hiking tail that made the perfect lounge chair and Fred had to try it out.

As you walk out the trail you come to an open area where a viewing area has been established so that you could see out into the canyon and see the Dragoon Mountains in the distance.  Walking out there the views were amazing.

We spent the day hiking the trails and the more we hiked the more amazed we became.  You can feel in the air the peacefulness, the reverence, the wonder of nature everywhere within the area.  Sitting and just looking out over the area you can see how wonderful life must have been within the valley and within the mountains, no wonder the Apaches fought so hard for the area and honor it so much.  We did not hike within the formations as time caught up with us, but I would love to have time to spend there.  To bad our rig is to big for the area or we would be moving so I could spend more time within the area, but hopefully before we leave we can make another trip here to see more.

As we started down the drive we did stop at the formations pointed out on the map.

And, of course I had to get some pictures of some of the birds. .

If y’all are in the area again I would highly recommend that you stay in Willcox as there are a number of RV parks in the area and visit the Monument area.  It is more than worth you time!!


As I stated at the beginning these pictures just do not do justice the the beauty that exist.