The Truth Behind “The Gunfight At The OK Corral”! Come With Me To The “Real” Tombstone! My Trip Across America Visits The Wild Wild West!

Ready For A Gunfight? Meet Me At The OK Corral!

That’s right, there really is a Tombstone, and there really is an “OK Corral” – but what really happened there? Time for my son Jeff and I to find out!

A Cross-Country Adventure…

In 2018, my son moved to Atlanta for a job, and I decided to help him move: well, I decided to talk his ear off across much of the United State of America, and make him stop places so I could take pictures and tell stories later.

This was my first time driving across the US – or at least 2,200 miles of it – this “trip across America” took 5 days, covered 8 states, and allowed us to stop at a few cool places, like the real town of Tombstone, Arizona!

Welcome To Tombstone!

As you can see, Tombstone has been kept as it has been for the past 135+ years – something you see as you enter the town…this is the last time you will see cars on the road before the main street takes you back in time…

Yes, you will see dozens of people dressed in classic “wild west” fashion…

As wikipedia explains:

“Tombstone is a town in southeastern Arizona, known for its Wild West history. Exhibits at the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park include a replica gallows. On historic Allen Street, the O.K. Corral outdoor theater re-enacts an 1881 cowboy gunfight. Resident ghosts are said to haunt the bullet-riddled Bird Cage Theatre. Outlaws are among the local townsfolk buried at the 1878 Boothill Cemetery.”

Oh, and speaking of those “replica gallows” – you can still take part if you like!

Um, no thanks – but you can do much more, like ride a covered wagon through town and over to the cemetery:

You can also head into the town’s legendary saloon, where you can get a drink, some food, or who knows what:

If things get out of hand, you can always “settle your scores” just like in the old days, by heading over to the OK Corral, the site of one of the wild west’s most notorious gun battles!

Time For A Gunfight!

There I am, in the stands overlooking the real OK Corral, as the show is about to begin. First, the facts from wikipedia:

“The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a 30-second shootout between lawmen and members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.”

So the show was underway – considering that the entire shootout took only thirty seconds, the show lasts a half hour, as they give you all of the setup on the feud that led to the shootout…as wikipedia explains:

“It is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West. The gunfight was the result of a long-simmering feud, with Cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury on one side and town Marshal Virgil Earp, Special Policeman Morgan Earp, Special Policeman Wyatt Earp, and temporary policeman Doc Holliday on the other side. All three Earp brothers had been the target of repeated death threats made by the Cowboys, who objected to the Earps’ interference in their illegal activities. The four law men faced six Cowboys. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed.”

Now – The Truth About The Gunfight At The OK Corral!

Yes, there is the myth, and there is the truth – and guess what? The actual gunfight did NOT take place at the O.K. Corral!

The shootout actually took place in a narrow lot on the side of C. S. Fly’s Photographic Studio on Fremont Street, six doors west of the O.K. Corral’s rear entrance. Some members of the two opposing parties were initially only about 6 feet (1.8 m) apart. About 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds – here it is as it actually happened, as captured by someone int her audience as it was reenacted:

This is historically accurate, so one of the most well known events of the wild west was over in a flash! Violence is NEVER the solution, but it’s interesting to get some historical perspective about what happened and why:

The show was a lot of fun, the Actors did a great job, and Tombstone was definitely worth visiting – you can arrive early for breakfast like we did, and stay late enough for a nice drink in the saloon….for us, after the show it was time to say goodbye to the wild, wild west…

As you know, this was just the beginning of out 2,200 mile cross-country trip that has already been full of great adventures, like our encounter with the “Arizona Dust Devils”:

They were everywhere, and I was lucky enough to capture one – and of course, I also shared the mystery of “The Thing”!

We saw these signs for miles, so of course we had to stop!

You can see what we discovered at this roadside attraction by clicking here:

And we also stopped in Tucson to eat at the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the US, where I ate a chimichanga the size of my head:

See their unique 95 year old taco recipe here:

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Let me know if you’ve ever been to Tombstone!

Categories: Books / Media, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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21 replies

  1. I’m an addicted fan of old westerns. This is perfect for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How exciting, John! I have never been there, so thanks to you I now have – albeit virtually.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Would definitely like to make the trip to this storied location. And not too long ago, I rewatched John Sturges second look at its history, HOUR OF THE GUN (1967) with James Garner and Jason Robards. The more thoughtful follow up to his GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957). Great post, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very pleased to tell you, John, that I am familiar with this shoot out and story. I read a book about Wyatt Earp. A very interesting and exciting story.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We enjoyed a day in Tombstone and enjoyed the performance of the shootout. I loved the graveyard, but then I do enjoy a good graveyard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was in tombstone years ago, as my sister relocated to Southern az, but I think we just walked through and looked at things, never knew the real story and I never rain into a dust devil either )


  7. I have never been, but I have watched the film version with Kurt Russel many times. Val Kilmer is still my favourite Doc Holliday. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person


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