There’s a town out in the Arizona desert steaming with history. Drive just 30 minutes outside of Tucson, Arizona and you’ll be traveling back some hundred years. You’ll stand in a town reminiscent of a time when America was young, boisterous, and unsettling. It’s a bygone era free of today’s fast-paced mobility, where adventure was around every corner and the frontier was alive.
Out passed wide arid space, the surrounding mountains were a blushing red. Out passed rolling sand valleys and dancing heat waves rests an old scene of an American grit that still lives, and thrives, to be noticed and never forgotten. If there’s anyone looking to find the spirit of America by thumbing tacks to a map, then puncture one on Tombstone, Arizona.
The legacy lives on
Originally founded in 1879, Tombstone was home to one of America’s deadliest boomtowns. Fueled by the discovery of silver, cowboys and lawmen moved west with prosperous ambitions to lay the foundation of what is now the tradition and spirit of Tombstone. If you ever tread in these parts, you’ll be greeted by the obvious heating of the sun and locals who have gone beyond embracing the culture, by living it. Daily reenacted gunfights showcasing the infamous battle between the Earps and Cowboys are performed at noon, 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. every day with a 10 USD admission (free for kids aged 5 and under). Much of the historic town still stands but lives on today as ice cream shops and taverns.
Respecting the past
Inside the gift shop for the cemetery, decadent fudge is sold alongside coins, videos, and shirts. Admission to the graveyard is free and begins at 9 am and closes at 5 pm, but they do ask for a 3 USD donation which I would suggest paying the fee for to contribute to the town’s economy and preservation work. The hostess is more than happy to give you a rundown on who’s who in the laid to rest category. She’s so knowledgeable that you can’t help but listen even though all you want to do is see your favourite cowboy’s grave. Once you’ve received the pamphlet, step back into the warm embrace and take into consideration how you want to be remembered when it is finally your turn to pass. These individuals are lined with wooden crosses with ironic jingles. It really makes you appreciate that nice family gravestone. Rows upon rows of heaping rock piles showcase that the west was not for the weak but for the willing, and still is.
Living ghost town
There is much speculation today that Tombstone’s spirits of cowboys and lawmen still haunt the town. So much that the economy banks on it as the Birdcage Saloon was even featured on Ghost Hunters. But aside from the Discovery Channel special, more parts of the town are rumored to be visited by a few old ghostly souls that are too tough to die. The famous Ike Clanton Haunted Hotel offers ghost tours. Ghost tours are also hosted at dusk for 20 USD per adult and 10 USD for children under 12. For skeptics out there, these tours are more than just a tourist attraction. They’re well preserved resources and museums providing informative details of the rich culture that once thrived in Tombstone.
Old west, new memories
Businesses start to open at around 9 am as townsfolk prepare for another tourist filled day; many saloons and eateries start off opening their doors for breakfast. The O.K. Cafe offers a menu of exotic burgers made from buffalo, ostrich, and emu. The Longhorn Restaurant sizzles steaks to entice even the strongest of vegetarians. A surprising fact about Tombstone is that there is no shortage of ice cream parlors, as every corner in the rustic town lures you in with frozen treats to escape the heat.
Aside from the setting of an American classic movie, Tombstone offers the perfect escape from the city life that has turned us all too fast. There are no Starbucks, McDonald’s, or 7-11s, there’s nothing hurried about this town. Here lies the home for Western enthusiasts or American traditionalists, where the desert range is vast and peaceful.
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