Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park

Weather forecast today was about the same or worse than yesterday so I skipped over opportunities for hikes. Instead, I decided to check out a throwback to the wild west era: the city of Tombstone, Arizona. More of this will be covered in subsequent posts but my first stop was the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park. Date on the building reads 1882 and at time of construction the city has over 7,000 residents.

Inside there are many different exhibits and historical relics giving a snapshot of life in the wild west. I won’t be able to cover everything here so take this only as a sampling of what you might see. Of course a large portion is dedicated to the “law and order” aspect of things including photos and timelines of Cochise County sherrifs of the late 19th/early 20th century.

Strap on your time-traveling boots and see what a post office looks like in the 1880’s wild west. Mail was a relatively new thing in these times, and even the Pony Express only pre-dated the founding of Tombstone by less than 20 years. Think how far we’ve come now.

Want to live out your dreams of being a lawman briging stagecoach robbers to justice? Or maybe you are the outlaw awaiting your sentence? Check out the huge courtroom and watch the feature film being projected onto the wall.

Just outside take a peek at the court clerk’s desk. Volumes of legal text going back over 150 years, a unique typewriter older than anything I’ve seen before, and other period items can be seen behind a barrier of educational signs giving the historic timeline.

Other rooms of the building are grouped into exhibits like this one detailing American Indian history and culture, specifically the local Western and Chiricahua Apache tribes.

Another details Tombstone’s founder Ed Schieffelin, silver mining, and boomtown expansion and decline. At the peak there were nearly 14,000 residents. As of 2010, population is now shy of 1,400.

Here’s a re-creation of a silver assay’s office where they would test & certify the purity of the silver and other previous metals. Silver is primarily assayed by titration, a process of adding chemicals to get a certain reaction. A small furnace is also used in some processes.

Some exhibits detail entertainment and recreation including “Stage and Theater” and “Rowdy Amusements”. Tombstone was known for the wild night life with saloons operating 24/7 so this was a large draw to the area.

Some other curious relics include this piano which was the first one brought to Tombstone in the 1880’s, first by boat from Boston to San Francisco, and then on a wagon the rest of the way.

Another oddity is this collection of old dental/medical equipment. I didn’t photograph the attached placard but I suspect it is related to Doc Holliday as many other items like watches and clothing are in the same spot. From the brief research I’ve done it seems Doc did more gambling than dentistry so I’d assume these are in gently used condition.

There is a fairly large exhibit labeled “The Cattlemen” with samples of saddles, wagons, and other ranching memorabilia. In the same area you can also find larger mining equipment, tools, and more wagons and stagecoaches (not pictured here, was difficult to get them in a single camera frame).

And last but certainly not least is the final stop (pun intended) out in the courtyard. One poster inside the building states seven men died here at the gallows – five in 1884 and two more in 1900 – for various crimes including murder. I was lucky enough to leave here before high noon without the sheriff bringing me back so it’s time to continue the journey!

Author’s Note: Due to many reasons – none of them very good – I’m posting this from the future in March 2022. Actual visit date/time December 9, 2019 09:49am. I’ll backdate it later so as to maintain chronological order. I’ve got an overwhelming backlog of photos to process which is probably why I procrastinate. Hope you enjoy them all the same.

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