Tombstone: “The town too tough to die.”
Tombstone was founded in 1877 by a prospector named Ed Schieffelin. Ed was staying at what was then called Camp Huachuca (wa-chu-ka) as part of a scouting expedition against the Chiricahua (chir-i-cow-uh) Apaches. During his time there he would venture out into the wilderness “looking for rocks”, all the while ignoring the warnings he received from the soldiers at the camp. They would tell him, “Ed, the only stone you will find out there will be your tombstone”. Well, Ed did find his stone. And it was Silver. So, remembering the words of warning from the soldiers, he named his first mine The Tombstone.
By the mid 1880’s Tombstone’s population had increased to around 7,500. This figure counted only the white male registered voters that were over 21 years of age. If you take into account the women, children, Chinese, Mexicans and the many “ladies of the evening” the estimates are that the population was between 15,000 and 20,000 people. At its peak, it is said to have been the fastest growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco.
Days of lawlessness and violence in Tombstone climaxed with the infamous battle between Wyatt Earp and his brothers against the Clanton brothers.
As the silver mining continued the mineshafts were dug deeper and deeper to get the precious ore. Once they hit the 520 foot level, the water table was reached which flooded the mines. Attempts to pump out the water marginally worked for a few years but soon became too costly to continue. As the mining slowed down, the people of Tombstone started leaving, but not before $37,000,000 worth of ore had been taken from the many mines in the area. It is estimated that by the early 1930’s Tombstone’s population dwindled to around 150 people.
This is a short resume about Tombstone. Now, Tombstone is mostly touristic and the ambiance is fun for an afternoon. This was the wild west at its best ! You could tour the town in a stagecoach but we opted to walk around …
We could feel we were back in time. You got to visit Tombstone once in your life and we did it !
Thanks for reading. Next post will be about New Mexico.