Tombstone: The Town Too Tough To Die Almost Did

Photograph of Tombstone's Allen Street in 1937

Tombstone: Allen Street in 1937

By the 1930’s, Tombstone was dying. The mining boomtown of the 1880’s was long gone. In 1882, Tombstone residents numbered between 6,000 and 7,000 and the population was still growing … FAST. By the time these photographs were taken, the nation was in a deep Depression, and Tombstone was almost a ghost town.

Photograph of Tombstone:  3rd & Allen 1937

3rd & Allen 1937

Photograph of Tombstone 5th St 1937

Tombstone: 5th Street 1937

Photograph of Tombstone Crystal Palace in 1937

Crystal Palace Saloon 1937. Still open for business.

photograph of Tombstone Fire Station 1937

Tombstone Fire Station 1937

Photograph of Bird Cage 1937
From this photograph it appears the Bird Cage Theater is still open for business long after most other establishments on Allen Street were abandoned.
Photograph of Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp

Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp

But in 1955, the hugely popular TV series The Life & Times of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O’Brian (1955-1962) revived an interest in the Town To Tough To Die.

Since then, a string of Westerns have renewed the old town, including:

Photograph of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas1957. Gunfight at the OK Corral, starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

1993. Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

1994. Wyatt Earp, starring Kevin Costner.

Today, the population of Tombstone is about 1,600 and most of the residents are occupied, in one way or another, with entertaining tourists. Generally, they do a splendid job.

These 1930’s photographs were taken by Frederick Nichols for the Historic American Buildings Survey and are now preserved in the Library of Congress.

Gleeson SaloonFor more Ghost Towns in the area see our page “Ghost Towns and Tours of Southern Arizona” listing stories and sites around Southern Arizona.

ok-corral-sign_blockLearn more about the sights of Tombstone on our “Things to Do in Tombstone” page. More about Tombstone’s colorful history can be found here.

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