Although we have lived 45 minutes away from Tombstone, Arizona for over 2 years and driven over for steak dinners often, we never visited Tombstone as tourists. So, we decided it was high time to check out the history and some of the lore of “the town too tough to die”.
Having checked out other Tombstone RV parks on previous visits, we knew we wanted to stay right in town. There are 4-5 RV Park options, but Wells Fargo RV Park suited us perfectly. $34 for a 30-amp full hook-up site was fine for us. Not only is it right in town – within walking distance to all the places we wanted to see, but consistently is the cleanest and neatest RV Park in Tombstone proper.
The first tour we did was the authentic Old Butterfield Stage Coach pulled by a team of 21-year old mules. The driver takes us through town pointing out historic buildings and happenings. Had we known, we would have taken The Good Enough Mine Tour first, because they give out discount coupons for many of the other tours. Prices are very reasonable at all our visits – $10 + up per person without discounts.
We drove the tow vehicle out of town to The Boothill Graveyard and The Ed Shefflien monument, past the new Apache Spirit Dude ranch. Located just a couple of miles outside of Tombstone on a dirt road it gave us even more of a feel of what life in Tombstone during the late 1800’s must have been like in this high desert landscape – dry, rough and dusty, to say the least. No wonder there were saloons on every street corner!
Back at the RV after a nice supper at The Crystal Palace Saloon, we sat outside talking and watching the sun go down.
The next day we walked the few city blocks up and down on rough wooden sidewalks, snapping pictures of the memorials and store fronts along the way. <click for a link to my Picasa web album> What a colorful town Tombstone was back in the late 1800’s! As characters dressed like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holladay, or a “Lady of the Evening” walked the other sides of the street, we almost expected a run-away stage-coach or band of outlaws to come galloping through town.
We stopped at The Wyatt Earp house & Gallery, which has been lovingly restored and serves as an art gallery today. Speaking with curator Terri was a joy and we could have spent another 4 hours talking with her. Terri has lived in Tombstone for 30+ years and is married to a Tombstone native. A few folks say (usually the under 30 generation) that Tombstone is “just a tourist trap”, but I totally disagree. What they don’t seem to appreciate is how much money it takes – on a regular basis – to keep a historic building, business or a whole town in service. It also takes a strong passion to keep 1800’s history alive in the economy of 2011.
Many of the Tombstone residents have spent a lifetime acquiring, verifying and keeping the traditions of the old west alive for others to enjoy. We REALLY appreciate the time and money that has been put into homes & businesses like these to keep alive the feel of an old western town, many with the modern conveniences we expect today.
There are few and far between authentic feeling old west towns still going strong in 2011. We’ve been to a few – Winthrop, WA is another one I thoroughly enjoyed visiting.
Terry and I say, “long live Tombstone, AZ – The Town Too Tough to Die.”Follow @rvingft