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Tombstone - The Town Too Tough To Die

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Welcome to Tombstone, Arizona in the 1930s

Sign at Tombstone, by Frederick D. Nichols, 1937

This image available for photographic prints HERE!



"The grimly humorous phrase about our town was that Tombstone had

a man for breakfast every morning." -- Josephine Sarah Marcus, actress




Tombstone, Arizona, one of the most lawless mining camps in the American West, was soon dubbed "The Town Too Tough to Die.”


Ed SchieffelinThe mining camp was born when a prospector named Ed Schieffelin looked out on the mountains from where he stood at Camp Huachuca, Arizona. Thinking that the rich colors of the mountains looked like a promising place to prospect, he commented on this to a nearby soldier. However, the soldier was quick to warn him that the area was controlled by Apaches and responded him "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone."


However, Schieffelin was not deterred, and the next year, in February 1878, he set out to hills alone in search of his fortune. After hiding for two nights from Apache Indians, he spied what looked like it might be a silver vein on a ledge high above his hiding place. Climbing to the ledge, he pried out several pieces of pure silver and was elated when he estimated the vein to be some fifty feet long and twelve inches wide. Remembering therica.com/we-soldierlistindex.html">soldier's warning he called his vein, which would later become a mine, "Tombstone.”


Ed collected a bag of samples and put up two claim markers – the second claim, he called "Graveyard.” He then traveled to Tucson to file his claim, and afterward struck out for Signal, Arizona (now a ghost town,) where his brother lived, hoping for a grub stake.


When Ed’s brother, Al, wanted no part of such a wild venture, the disappointed Ed took a job for a short time in the McCracken Mine. However, he continued to search for help.


Soon, he took his samples to Richard K. Gird, a Signal assayer, who pronounced that Schieffelin’s ore was very rich. Gird immediately offered to finance the development of a mine for a 1/3 interest in the claim. Brother Al, quickly changed his mind, upon finding out this information, and also became involved, the three becoming equal partners.


On the way back to the mountains Ed found two more sites laden with silver ore, registering the claim as "Lucky Cuss” and "the Toughnut." All of Ed’s claims would soon become mines. In no time at all, word spread that silver had been discovered and other prospectors began to search the area. Before long, more mines began to open including, the Grand Central, the Charleston and the Contention mines, and a mining camp was born named after Ed’s first claim – Tombstone.


Tombstone's post office was established December 2, 1878 and has never been discontinued. On March 5, 1879 an official town site was laid out and lots were sold on Allen Street for five dollars each. Soon, Tombstone had some 40 cabins and about 100 residents.




As word continued to spread more and more people began to come to the area including the Earp brothers who began to arrive in the fall of 1879. Tombstone quickly became a boom town.


Ed Schieffelin was more interested in prospecting than in becoming a businessman a continued to prospect the area. When he returned after a four month prospecting trip, his brother Al had found a buyer for their claims as the capital required to develop silver mine was more substantial than the partners could afford. The brothers, Al and Ed would soon sell out their interest for $600,000 each, while Richard Gird took his payment in company stock. Gird would eventually make a considerable amount more as a conservative estimate of the mines ended up producing some $40 million dollars in silver, an amount that would equal $1.7 billion today. Ed Schieffelin took his money and left Tombstone traveling for an extended period then pursuing a new mining adventure in the Yukon.



Continued Next Page

Tombstone, Arizona, Allen Street, 1882

Tombstone, Arizona in 1882.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


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