About 3:00pm on Wednesday, October 26th 1881 the inhabitants of Tombstone, Arizona Territory ran for cover while for 30 seconds, 30 shots were fired in an alley by the side of the photographic store. The men involved were standing about 6 doors away from a livery and horse corral whose name was to go down in history. This is the gunfight which epitomizes most people’s view of The Wild West.
1957 Movie Title
It was not until 1957 when a movie based on the life of one of the leading protagonists became famous the title stuck, from then on it became known as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the rest, as they say, is history. Except of course that is not the whole story.
The fight took place between the lawmen led by Virgil Earp, his brothers and their close friend Doc Holliday against the leaders of a criminal gang known as the cowboys. Thirty seconds later three of the cowboys were dead on the ground, three others including Holliday lay wounded.
A while later another one of the cowboys, somehow presaging modern America, filed a murder suit against Wyatt Earp and Holliday. A preliminary hearing and later a grand jury exonerated the lawmen.
Visitors to this historical places to visit today will get a much better sense what took place that day. The real story is much more complex than a group of vigilante lawmen trying to stop cattle rustling.
This is the best sort of real history where visitors get a real sense of the historic background, why it was so important to all involved and even why they felt a gunfight might solve the situation.
As always happens the back-story changes what you thought you knew.