The courthouse has a rich history beginning in 1881, when the population reached 10,000 and Cochise County was established. Then in 1882, the Victorian styled Cochise County Courthouse was built in Tombstone. The courthouse represented law and order, during a time when lawlessness was rampant. The courthouse building included the offices of sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and board of supervisors. The building also held a jail in back, under the courtroom. The cost of construction was nearly $45,000.
Many popular individuals held office at the courthouse. One very famous person was John Slaughter. Slaughter was the sheriff for Cochise County. He was known for manner in which he informed outlaws to leave the area. He was a no nonsense kind of guy.
Then in 1929, Tombstone lost the county seat to the town of Bisbee in an election. From that time on, the building went through changes. During the 1940’s, the building was a hotel. The courthouse also stood empty. Then in 1955, the Tombstone Restoration Commission took possession of it. The commission has turned it into a historical museum and as operated it as a state park since 1959.
Visitors should plan on at least an hour to take in the information at this memorable building. There are two floors of displays and exhibits. The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park holds displays describing the history of Tombstone and Cochise County. The park features an exhibit recalling the famous fight in the O.K. Corral. There are rooms reflecting cattlemen, lawyers and life in the early times in Tombstone. Visitors will see antiques and artifacts used by former residents of Tombstone. Outside the courthouse there are the gallows where outlaws were hung.
The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park is open everyday from 8:00 to 5:00 pm and is closed on Christmas. The cost of admission is $2.50 and children 7-13 are $1.00. The park also has a gift shop that includes terrific books on Arizona history and local history.
The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park is located at the corner of Toughnut Street and Third Street in Tombstone. It’s exact address is 219 East Toughnut Street. You can get to the park from U.S. 80 (from Benson or Bisbee) by turning south on Third Street and traveling down to the corner of Toughnut Street. If you would like to learn more about the park, call 520-457-3311.
This is a remarkable building. The architecture alone is amazing. This is a good first stop on your Tombstone visit. The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park gives you a great overview of the town.