Monday, February 1, 2016

Playing Tourist With A Third Generation Local

Visiting a National Historic Landmark like the town of Tombstone, AZ, you're likely to see a mix of bronze plaques and t-shirt shops. You may visit the museum with a brochure in hand, or tour historic sites with a docent.

Seeing Tombstone with a local - a third-generation local who has lived here her whole life - is a unique and wonderful experience.

Sunday Donnie was feeling puny so he and Bill stayed home (they will never run out of things to talk about), while Anna and I went to "see stuff".

First stop is the Tombstone Monument Ranch B&B down a dirt road, just outside of town. A fun stop for anyone visiting the area, their rooms are all "main street" storefronts with a large restaurant/saloon/pool hall, and horseback riding, swimming and hiking. A great place for large groups to get together. For us it's more personal as we check out paintings by Anna's good friend, and she tells me about the wonderful 50th birthday party they attended there.

Anna's friend's art hangs in the saloon
The whole place is an old western town
Creative license
Beautiful views across the horse paddocks
Just down the road is the Schieffelin Monument, the final resting place of Tombstone's founder, Ed Schieffelin.  He left the area as a millionaire, living in San Francisco, Los Angeles and finally Oregon where he passed away at his desk. His Will directed that he be buried in Tombstone with his pick ax and wearing his prospector's clothes. His grave was to be marked with only a rock cairn, but the citizens of Tombstone "elaborated" on his wishes and erected a large stone marker that is visible from far away.

Ed Schieffelin
Died May 12, 1897
Aged 49 years 8 months
A dutiful son
A faithful husband
A kind brother
A true friend 
It is an interesting piece of history for Tombstone, and for Anna. Not only did she and her friends have many, many parties here in their youth, but her sister's bachelorette party was held here. Specific details aren't really necessary...... 

Her descriptions of the place under a full moon, and her hikes with Donnie in the nearby hills make it particularly special :-)

Not ready to head home yet, we go to the historic courthouse. As a resident, she and her guest get in for free. 

More than a historic building, it is an exceptional museum
From the original sheriff's office to the attorney general's law library and office, to the courtroom, to the gallows, this building has a lively history. 

Included in the rooms and hallways are numerous exhibits about the people - both famous and not - the structures, the mine, the railroad, the entertainment, and other stories that are well preserved for future generations. There is much more to this little town than just a famous Marshall and a shoot-out in 1881.

A small exhibit about Doc Holiday

My favorite "character" in the Wyatt Earp legend
Instruments from the office of the first town doctor
Crystal Palace piano, shipped from Boston to San Francisco, then overland to Tombstone
Only slightly smaller than Bill's football team in 1974
Assay Office exhibit
Anna's grandfather was a shoemaker and she has been told his photo is in the museum, but hasn't found it yet. She showed me some of the buildings where her ancestors worked, lived, played. Some of the photos are of places and events she remembers as a child. It really is incredible to see all of this history through her eyes. 

A large, solid building protects a town's legacy
We enjoy the museum so much that Anna suggests we visit Boothill Cemetery. As we walk in she tells me she's never been here. At first I find it hard to believe, then remember I lived in California my whole life and have never been to Yosemite!

About half of the graves are marked Unknown, but all are maintained, covered with large rocks and shrubbery. Closed in 1884, the cemetery suffered years of neglect and damage. In the 1920's concerned citizens restored the cemetery, learning about those buried here from their descendants. It is now on the National Registry of Historical Places.

Purchased a stolen horse and hung before the truth came out. Oops, our bad!
Nearly 100 years old and a former slave, Slaughter's stone was erected in "memory of a worthy pioneer".
The infamous graves of those killed at the OK Corral 
Mrs Stump died of chloroform overdose during childbirth. Definitely the "fanciest" grave here.
Donations and sales from the small gift store enable continued maintenance of the cemetery. In the spirit of altruism we buy fudge!

The promised storm arrives slowly and the wind is blowing strong as the sun goes down. We bring in the big slide as a precaution, and hunker down in the S&B for the evening.

40 mph gusts blow most of the night, and it rains for a couple hours. We don't bring in the bedroom slide, and are happy the topper is in tact when we wake up... snow!

Glad I got to play tourist with the very best guide, and while it was still warm outside!!


  1. We've visited Tombstone several times and just love it. There are so many things to do and see there. Plus there are many side trips to take also. Enjoy your guide and your time.

    1. The variety and diversity has really surprised us. It's a really fun place to spend some time.

  2. What a great tour! You are so right that someone who has lived in a place all their lives could give you an amazing tour of it. If we meet in Charlottesville some day, I'll be happy to oblige. Loved this particularly because I'm reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell. It's a "novel" based on "fact". She's quite careful to list out the real and the fictional characters. I had no idea who Doc Holliday really was other than his legend.

    1. I'll have to look at that one - he's my sons' favorite. Although there was additional information on him in the Earp exhibits, I was surprised at how little there was about him. Looking forward to that Charlottesville tour :-)))

  3. We had Montana friends visiting us in Arizona once and they weren't impressed with one of those Tombstone snow showers!

    1. Hehe :-) The locals love it while the travelers are much less excited about them! We're happy to see the temps rising again this week.

  4. My how things change but then again not so much when jumping to conclusions and hanging the poor old guy. Nice tour of Tombstone.

  5. I've always loved your story telling.. 😊😊 I'm ready to book a trip now. It's on my bucket list to go see Tombstone. Xoxox

    1. :-)))))) When you go you definitely need to see the museum and take the drive to the monument.

  6. Tombstone sounds like a pretty interesting town, and so great to get a personal tour!

    1. We're looking forward to visiting with other friends around the country to learn about the areas they have lived in for years!

  7. I agree with you that museum is a gem! and liked you it was snowing when we visited Tombstone, but you are luckier having a local friend as your tour guide.

    1. I was really impressed with the museum - and very lucky to have Anna as a guide :-)

  8. In all our visits to southeast Arizona we've never been to Tombstone (thought perhaps it would be too "touristy") -- but after seeing the cool stuff you found, now I want to visit! The museum looks fascinating. Lucky you to get a personal tour with a good friend!

    1. Avoiding the staged gun fight and the t-shirt shops makes it a whole different experience I think. Although there are some quality shops downtown - not Santa Fe plaza, but lovely and hand-crafted.