Cities and towns are often most famous for a single landmark, even when they have many. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge: Paris has the Eiffel Tower; Seattle has the Space Needle. And Tombstone, Arizona, has…the OK Corral, site of the most famous gunfight in US history. Or at least we thought so. It turns out the actual gunfight took place in a vacant lot a ways down the street from the OK Corral. But somehow, “Gunfight at the vacant lot” didn’t have the necessary panache for Hollywood, so the corral goes down in popular history as the site that gets remembered.
On the one side of the gunfight stood the three Earp brothers (town marshal Virgil, and special policemen Morgan and Wyatt), along with their friend and temporary policeman Doc Holliday. On the other side were a group of outlaws that included two Clantons and two McLaurys. The actual gun battle consisted of about 30 shots and took about 30 seconds, during which time Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed, and all of the lawmen were wounded except Wyatt. By the way, the fight did not end there. Two of the Earp brothers would be ambushed later and Wyatt would go on a manhunt for the killer that would eventually lead to a warrant for his arrest.
From our winter base in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear, it took us about 3.5 hours to drive to Tombstone, where we would take in the ambiance of this movie-set style western town, watch the gunfight re-enactment, add a side trip to legendary Boot Hill, and spend the night in the delightful 3-bedroom Wyatt Hotel, modern but done in period decor.
It was an outstanding, memory-filling day.