It was late afternoon, golden hour, and the town was aglow. We rolled into Tombstone, AZ with the tumbleweeds, and got out of town by morning, but not before taking a sun-soaked stroll down Allen Street past the O.K. Corral, tracing the footsteps of a by-gone time.
The Old West town was unusually quiet this day,
as if its residents were hiding out, bracing for yet another round of random violence, when claim jumpers, cattle rustlers, horse thieves, prostitutes, and gamblers challenged the moral fiber of a nascent society teetering between greatness and greed.
Despite the fear, there were some who dared to venture out…
and walk the dusty planks of a fragile peace, with their trusty sidearms at the ready.
Yet it was business as usual at the Bird Cage Theatre,
where wanton women plied their trade at twenty-three bucks a pop,
in their boudoir quarters…
…beyond the catwalk over the saloon,
while high-stakes poker flourished under the stage,
with a $1000 minimum buy-in.
But outside on the street, trouble was brewing.
- The Earps had heard that “The Cowboys” were gathering at the O.K. Corral making threats and spoiling for a fight.
- Rounding the corner of 4th and Freemont, the Earps headed west to the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral for a date with destiny.
- When the fight begins, Town Marshal Virgil Earp (with cane) says “Hold on, we don’t want that,” as Frank McLowery and Billy Clanton take the first bullets from Doc and Morgan.
- Billy Clanton (2nd from right) draws his gun and begins to fire back as his brother Ike begs Wyatt Earp not to shoot him. Morgan and Doc are concentrating on Frank McLowery and the game Billy Clanton who, though mortally wounded, continues to shoot. Frank and Tom maneuver their horses as shields.
- As Ike Clanton flees, Virgil Earp and Tom McLowery bring their guns into action. Doc Holiday turns to fire at the fleeing Ike, while Morgan continues to fire at the wounded Frank McLowery.
- Frank McLowery maneuvers his horse into the street and fires back under the horse’s neck as Holliday pulls a sawed-off shotgun from under his coat. An anonymous shot, possibly from Billy Claiborne is fired from within the O.K. Corral, diverting the Earps’ attention.
- Frank McLowery still manages to hang onto his horse for cover as his brother Tom, shooting over his saddle, hits Morgan Earp. Billy Clayton (nearing death) returns fire at Virgil and Wyatt. A shot from Frank hits Marshal Virgil Earp in the right leg.
- Thirty bullets are fired in a thirty second outburst. When the smoke clears, Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers lay dead in the street. Ike Clanton, claiming that he was unarmed has run from the fight, along with Billy Claiborne. Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday are wounded, but Wyatt Earp is unharmed.
Certainly, death was big business for the Tombstone Undertakers.
And on occasion, death was high entertainment for the townsfolk.
And as the sun sets on Tombstone…
we remember the lawlessness of the Wild, Wild West,
but we celebrate the triumph of a Town Too Tough to Die…
…a worthy consideration while we soaked away the stress in a hot spring along the Rio Grande the following day in Truth or Consequences, NM.