A Context for Tombstone

Continuing my exploration of the Tombstone story.

Let’s look at some maps….

Where, Exactly, is Tombstone?

  • In Cochise County; southern Arizona, only a few miles from Mexico. Google Maps.
  • The nearest big towns are Sierra Vista (Fort Huachuca’s town) & Tucson. Bisbee is nearby, and Nogales isn’t far. Google Maps, again.
  • Here’s an 1883 map of Cochise County (courtesy of Fort Huachuca’s museum–excerpt from a larger map). It’s worth keeping in mind railroads hadn’t reached Tucson, much less Tombstone, in 1879; Tombstone wouldn’t have a rail connection until 1903.

Are there maps of Tombstone?

  • Yep.
  • Here’s a map from 1886, courtesy of the Library of Congress. It concentrates pretty closely on the gunfight location.
  • Fern Canyon Press, publisher of a book called Wyatt Earp Speaks, offers this delightful map. Wish I knew more about its provenance, but it certainly looks impressive. It seems likely to have been partially based on a fire insurance map, though not necessarily the 1886 version linked to above. Notice the existence of defined neighborhoods for the Mexicans (of course) and for the Chinese (former railroad workers).
  • Tombstone’s map still looks about the same today, except the modern map’s oriented differently. Google Maps, yet again.
  • And here’s the current view from overhead. Microsoft’s Terraserver.

Once again: I style m’self “dabbler” for good reason. This exercise is mainly for my own entertainment. I’m an amateur in this field, though I’m an experienced researcher who’s gained some familiarity with nineteenth century mining towns. I know I’m repeating information available elsewhere, albeit arranged to reflect my personal research style. My immediate object is just to survey the resources, as I’ve said before, I want to better understand the context and evolution of the story the movies tell about the events in Tombstone. I don’t expect to contribute anything serious to the main discussion–about the Earps, that is, and about frontier law.

I’ll perhaps have something to say about related issues. We’ll see what develops.