Looking down Allen and 5th street in historic Tombstone district
Photo by: Ken Thomas, Creative Commons
The O.K. Corral in Tombstone is one of the most popular tourist spots in Arizona, known as the site where the “Gunfight at O.K. Corral” occurred on October 26, 1881. Many tales and legends regarding the gunfight continue to surround the historical town of Tombstone, prompting many Old West fans and curious tourists to visit the location of one of the famous gunfights recorded in history.
The famous gunfight was between two groups: that of City Marshal Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, and John “Doc” Holliday; versus that of Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Claiborne, Ike Clanton, and Billy Clanton.
According to some writings, the McLaurys, Clantons, and Claiborne were part of a large group called Cowboys, reportedly notorious for functioning as loosely-organized bandits (involved in cattle rustling and gunslinging) that enforced their interests in the town. The Earps and Holliday were identified as a group that largely represented “law and order” in Tombstone. The 30-second gunfight, which left the McLaurys and Billy Clanton dead, was said to be the climax of an ongoing tension between the two groups. Others said it was a tragic misunderstanding that resulted when the Earps attempted to disarm the Cowboys’ group.
Arizona’s Tombstone O.K. Corral Today
As the town of Tombstone steadily became popular due to the shoot-out and several other significant events, many of the original landmarks were either restored or rebuilt. The gunfight site and surrounding areas have since been transformed into a tourist attraction with many areas of interest, including markers for the actual location of the shoot-out (as it did not occur exactly at the O.K. Corral, but in a vacant lot next to a photography studio along Fremont Street). Tourists and visitors are also in for an interesting trip down the town’s memory lane, through life-sized displays, daily re-enactments of the O.K. Corral gunfight, photo galleries of 1880s Tombstone, theatre shows, and a museum of The Tombstone Epitaph, Arizona’s oldest newspaper.