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A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar. - Mark Twain


Tombstone, Arizona

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Settled: 1878
Status: Active Town
Current Population: 1,550
Peak Population: 10,000
Elevation: 4540
Primary Mineral: Silver


"The Town too Tough to Die," Tombstone was perhaps the most renowned of Arizona's old mining camps. When Ed Schieffelin (SHEF-e-lin) came to Camp Huachuca (hwah-CHEW-kuh) with a party of soldiers and left the fort to prospect, his comrades told him that he'd find his tombstone rather than silver. Thus, in 1877 Schieffelin named his first claim the Tombstone, and rumors of rich strikes made a boomtown of the settlement that adopted this name.

Days of lawlessness and violence, which nearly had then-President Chester A. Arthur declaring martial law in Tombstone and sending in military troops to restore order, climaxed with the infamous Earp-Clanton battle, fought near the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral, on October 26, 1881. Over the course of 7 years the mines produced millions of dollars in silver and gold before rising underground waters forced suspension of operations.

After cashing in on the Arizona bonanza, Ed Schieffelin went back to the mining life he knew so well. He prospected in Alaska in 1882, and later in the Pacific Northwest.

Schieffelin died in Grant County, Oregon, on May 14, 1897, at the age of 49. At his request, he was returned to Tombstone for burial, nine days after his death. He was afforded a grand funeral at Schieffelin Hall. He was laid to rest on a hillside about a mile from town (beneath a marker in the shape of a miner's claim).

During World War I, Tombstone was a major producer of manganese for the government. In World War II, Tombstone was extracting lead for the cause. After both conflicts, Tombstone faded into obscurity, just to be resurrected at a later time. The citizenry of Tombstone decided rather than depending on a vanishing mining industry, they would focus their time and energy on tourism and restoration. Good call!

Many of Tombstone's historic buildings are within an area bounded by Fremont, 6th, Toughnut and 3rd streets. Among them are St. Paul's Episcopal Church, built in 1882; the Crystal Palace Saloon, one of the most luxurious saloons in the West; and the Tombstone Epitaph building, where the oldest continuously published paper in Arizona is still being printed. Western printing history exhibits in the front office are free to the public.

Truly a Historical American Landmark, Tombstone is America's best example of our 1880 western heritage, which is well preserved with original 1880's buildings and artifacts featured in numerous museums.

Text courtesy of the City of Tombstone.