Everyone has of course heard of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. But when the incident actually happened in October 1881, it was a minor blip, barely noticed or remembered outside of Arizona. It wasn’t until Wyatt Earp became the hero of pulp Western dime novels in the 1920s that the gunfight became a legend.
Today, Tombstone trades on its historical legacy. But buried beneath the tourist kitsch is some real history.
Here are some photos from a visit to Tombstone.
The center of town has been restored to its Wild West appearance
“Cowboys” in the street
The “Earp brothers” patrol the town. On October 26, 1881, the Earp brothers had several run-ins with the Clantons, a local gang of ruffians. Threats were exchanged.
The OK Corral. Early on the evening of October 26, the Clantons were gathered here, wearing guns in violation of the town ordinances. The Marshal Wyatt Earp, his two brothers and his friend “Doc” Holliday, all deputies, went here to disarm the Clantons.
Inside the OK Corral
Mannequins representing the Clanton gang and the Earp lawmen
And the gunfight is re-enacted four times daily. There’s just one slight problem….. the gunfight didn’t actually happen here inside the OK Corral.
In reality, the Earps walked *through* the OK Corral, through this gate, and into the empty lot and alley on the other side……..
…which is now, ironically, a US Marshal’s station.
And this is where the famous gunfight actually took place.
According to the witnesses, the Earps demanded that the Clantons turn over their guns. When somebody cocked a pistol, Wyatt Earp raised his arm and yelled “Hold on, we don’t want that!” Then the shooting started. Three of the Clantons were killed (the fourth was unarmed and ran away), and Earp’s two brothers were wounded.