If you’re looking for cool and unique things to do in Arizona, you should definitely visit Tombstone. Tombstone, Arizona is a famous and historic town located in southeastern Arizona. The town and its history inspired a film of the same name released in 1993. Notable locations in the town include The Bird Cage Theatre, the Schieffelin Hall, the Boothill Graveyard, the O.K. Corral, the Historic Courthouse, and Allen Street.
The bird cage theatre
In its prime, The Bird Cage Theatre was not just a theatre, but it was also a gambling hall, saloon, and brothel. The New York Times has stated that The Bird Cage Theatre was “the wickedest and wildest night spot between the Barbary Coast and Basin Street”. On December 25th, 1881, William ‘Billy’ Hutchinson and his wife opened the theatre. It got its name from the 14 boxes that were referred to as cages. Each cage box had drapes that “could be drawn while the prostitutes amused their cliental.”
The basement of the theatre was set up as a poker room, where the longest game of poker had been played. The game was played “24 hours, and apparently lasted eight years, five months, three days, with over 10 million dollars exchanging hands.” Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst, with the house getting 10 percent of the profits. The game ended when the ground water seeped into the mines, flooding many of the buildings”.
The Theatre closed in 1889 when the town’s economy slowed, but it reopened in 1934. Many believe the place to be haunted and full of ghost activity.
o.k. corral and the gunfight
The O.K. Corral is the site of the legendary shootout that occurred in Tombstone on October 26th, 1881.
Wyatt Earp and his brothers Morgan and Virgil made up the town’s law enforcement and were known to be ruthless and power-hungry. The Clanton’s and McLaury’s were cowboys who lived on a ranch just outside of town. They often sided with the outlaws, thieves, and murders of Tombstone. On the morning of October 25th, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury headed into town to grab some supplies, and over the next 24 hours, they had some run-ins with the Earps and their friend Don Holliday.
At 1:30pm on October 26th, Ike’s brother Billy rode into town with Frank McLaury and Billy Clairborne. Meeting up at the saloon, Holliday informed the men that their brothers had been “pistol-whipped by the Earps”. Upon hearing this, the men left vowing revenge. Around 3pm on the same day, the Earps and Holliday spotted all five of the Clanton and McLaury gang behind the O.K. Corral. From there, the famous gunfight ensued.
The gunfight lasted a total of 30 seconds, with 30 shots fired. Nobody really knows who shot first, but what is assumed is that “the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.”
The gunfight has been referenced in many movies such as Frontier Marshal (1939), Shootout at the O.K. Corral (1946), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994).
Today, the O.K. Corral puts on live performances, reenacting the shootout. Having seen it before, I would highly recommend fitting a showing into your visit!
Allen Street got its name from John Bracket ‘Pie’ Allen, an American prospector, businessman, and politician. After his unsuccessful stint as a prospector, Allen got his nickname (Pie) due to his delicious pies he made and sold for settlers and soldiers. With the money he made off of pies, Pie Allen purchased a ranch and alfalfa farm and built a shop in Tombstone. Pie Allen was elected to the Territorial Legislature and as Territorial Treasurer from 1867 to 1872, earned the nickname General Pie as an Adjunct General, and served as Tombstone mayor twice.
When Allen was dying from cancer, the town came and visited him, bringing him a final gift: his own tombstone.
Tombstone boasts wonderful history and makes you feel as though you’ve transported back in time. So if you’re interested in drinking some world-class root beer atop a mineshaft in Big Nose Kate’s Saloon or visiting the Flandrau Science Center, you should definitely take a trip down to Tombstone!
“Tombstone History.” Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, 4 May 2021, https://tombstonechamber.com/about/tombstone-history/.
“Shootout at the O.K. Corral.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 24 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/shootout-at-the-ok-corral.