Photo by: Ken Lund, Creative Commons
The Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona is perhaps the most notable and popular boot hill cemetery in the American West. A boot hill cemetery is typically a common name for burial spots of gunfighters, with reference to them “dying with their boots on.” As a popular old saying goes, “There ain’t many tears shed at a Boot Hill Buryin’, and it is full of fellers that pulled their triggers before aimin’.” Many tourists and Old West fans usually head to the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone after a visit to the famous location of the gunfight at O.K. Corral.
The Boot Hill Cemetery (or Graveyard) in Tombstone, Arizona was earlier called City Cemetery. The most prominent graves in the cemetery are those of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury, the three men who died from the Gunfight at O.K. Corral. Around 250 to 300 people were buried in the cemetery from its opening in 1878 until it officially closed in 1884.
By early 1920s, Tombstone locals started to take interest in the cemetery and in restoring it. By then, most of the original wooden grave markers were already either completely disintegrated or totally unreadable. Fortunately, old family records, files, and accounts of locals made it possible to locate the graves and replace the markers.
Boot Hill Cemetery Tombstone Today
Today, the Boot Hill Cemetery is open to the public and remains a popular spot for many tourists visiting the historical town. The graves of the three gunfighters who died in the shoot-out at O.K. Corral still remain the most visited spots in the cemetery. Another interesting spot bears the famous Lester Moore marker. The witty epitaph writings tell not only about the people who died, but also, complement the stories of life in the Old Western town during late 1870s to early 1880s.