Tombstone Historic District

In addition to my previous posts on the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park and the Bird Cage Theatre, here are some other sights & attractions that can be found in Tombstone’s Historic District (around Allen and Toughnut Streets).

Wild West Street Scenes

If you drift into a strange western town on a rainy, cloudy, early Monday morning like I did, you’ll find the streets cleared with not even a tumbleweed blowing across your path. Pools of standing water atop the gravel road are evidence of heavy storms overnight.

Walking down Allen Street you’ll find places like Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, now a wild west themed bar & restaurant. Originally this location was the Grand Hotel but it burned down along with most of the town in 1882. The original long bar still exists – possibly you’d be resting your elbows in the same spot as a legend like Doc Holliday?

Almost all of the buildings are not original because of that fire, including T. Miller’s Tombstone Mercantile & Hotel. But all the buildings sure look the part. Most of them like the mercatile are elaborately decorated gift shops filled with western-themed tchotchkes.

Just because the buildings are not original doesn’t mean they don’t have history. Another is the Oriental Saloon, one of the most notorious and extravagantly luxurious bars in the west. Wyatt Earp controlled the faro tables and there were gunfights a plenty.

And of course how else could I cap off the trip without at least seeing the location of the O.K. Corral, home to the famous shootout between lawmen and outlaws? There are shows performed by actors on a regular schedule but I was there too early to see the full thing.

Tombstone Epitaph

One place that surprised me and I wasn’t expecting at all was the Tombstone Epitaph, the town newspaper founded in 1880. You can still buy a subscription and it holds the record as being the oldest operating newspaper in all of Arizona. This building is now a museum housing the relics & history of the publication. On the back wall is a large exhibit on it’s founder John Clum who had an interesting life path as a publisher, Indian Agent, and post office inspector to name a few things (read more about him here).

Most of the museum is filled with antique newspaper printing equipment: huge plates & presses, linotype, rollers and ink, and other accessories. Once again strap on your time travel boots and picture how these presses broadcast the news almost 150 years ago.

In the front window you can see the original Washington Hand Press used to pring the first issue on May 1st, 1880. Mr. Skeleton not original to 1880 but he’s working hard to earn a living. Can you imagine manually printing several hundred or thousand papers daily?

From outside the building there is a plaque honoring the Epitaph as a Historic Site in Journalism by the Society of Professional Journalism. Old Bonesy still plugging away inside.

Puny John’s BBQ

On my way out of town I decided it was time for some lunch. I happened to cross Puny John’s BBQ on the way to my truck and the smell itself almost carried me inside. It might be the smallest building in the area, but past experience tells that’s where you find the best stuff.

I’m not big on sharing photos of my food like some hipster but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most delicious brisket sandwiches I’ve ever had. You can top it with several homemade sauces of various heat & spice levels to suit your taste. I would go back just for another one of these bad boys.

Rain, Rain, Not Going Away…

As I drove into town early in the morning the clouds and rain still lingered over the mountains and desert. It definitely felt like December today and the chilly air even made me put on a jacket.

Heading out of town just befoe noon the clouds were moving back into town for another round of showers. My self-guided walking tour was over for now. Time to mosey along to greener pastures!

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 11:52am. 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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