Tombstone, in Cochise County, is probably the most
famous and most glamorized mining town in America. Prospector
Ed Schieffelin was told he would only find his tombstone in the
“Apache-infested” San Pedro Valley. Thus he named his first silver
claim Tombstone, and it became the name of the town. Tombstone
is situated on a mesa between the Dragoon and Huachuca
Mountains at an elevation of 4,540 feet. It incorporated in 1881.
While the area later became notorious for saloons, gambling houses
and the Earp-Clanton shoot-out, in the 1880s Tombstone was larger
than Tucson and had become the most cultivated city in the
West. Massive underground water in the mines and falling silver
prices ended the boom in 1904. Having survived the Great
Depression and removal of the County Seat to Bisbee, Tombstone in
the 1930s became known as the “Town Too Tough To Die.”
Tombstone's economy has changed drastically since its days as a
mining town. The town's colorful history is the key factor for steady
growth. In 1962, the Department of the Interior designated
Tombstone a Registered Historical Landmark. A restoration zone
was established and a commission organized for the preservation of
its landmarks. Tourists flock to the town by the thousands, and their
business is a mainstay of the economy.
Tombstone residents are also employed in nearby Sierra Vista, Fort
Huachuca and Cochise County government agencies. The mild year-round
climate and low humidity make Tombstone an attractive
place for retirement.
Cochise County, including Tombstone, is the site of a fascinating
chapter in American history. In the early territorial days, the most
feared and craftiest of all Indians was Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache.
With the closing of the Chiricahua Apache Reservation, Geronimo
of the Western Chiricahua Apaches terrorized the area with his
raids. Today visitors can see the Chiricahua National Monument and
the Cochise Stronghold from which Indians could spot any movement
in the valley below. Fort Huachuca and the 1877 Calvary Post
Museum illustrate this Indian and pioneer heritage. Traveling the
Cochise Trail provides insight into frontier life in Arizona.
Tombstone's pride in its western heritage is shown by its numerous
original historic buildings. The Tombstone Courthouse, originally
built in 1882, is now a state park and preserves the history of the
town and county. Other attractions and activities awaiting visitors
are the Rose Tree Inn, with the world's largest rose tree;
Congregational Community Church; St Paul’s Episcopal Church;
Sacred Heart Catholic Church; Boot Hill Graveyard; the Bird Cage
Theater; the Crystal Palace Saloon; Big Nose Kate’s; and the O.K.
Corral. Tombstone's early lusty days are re-enacted annually for
three days in October during the Helldorado Celebration. Each
month, a major event takes place, which depicts the western heritage
from Wyatt Earp and Nellie Cashman, “Angel of the Mining
Camp,” to Vigilante Days; and every day Western shoot-outs are
staged in the O.K. Corral or on Allen Street, and the Helldorado
Amphitheater, located at Fourth and Toughnut Street.