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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
4:42 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

A cowboy action shooter searches for evidence of the real Old West

The gallows, with its 13 steps, is a reminder of hangin' days.

Inside, visitors can see the sheriff's office – complete with some old shooting irons chained to a gun rack on the wall – and photos of old lawmen. Downstairs is a reconstructed jail cell and displays on the silver-mining operations of the area, complete with diagrams of some of the mines. Also on display are restored buckboards and the courthouse bells that once rang atop the building.

Climbing the curved stairway to the courtroom, one gets the feeling of a frontier justice system that was effective for the times. There is a display of law books and images of some of the attorneys who practiced in the area.

More displays show examples of barbed-wire fencing, cattle operations of the county and antique fire department equipment, complete with a short history of fires in Tombstone.

The museum operators have dedicated an entire room to the area's dedicated pioneers of the area. Here are displays telling the history of Tombstone, and the dedicated pioneers of the era.

Back outside in the hot afternoon sun – the temperature during our visit was in the high 90s – most of the folks are in shorts and T-shirts, with camcorders and cameras slung over their shoulders. They took pictures of locals, and even shot a few frames of me in my cowboy duds. Many had come on tour busses while others had traveled from places as far away as Alberta, Canada.

As the sun started setting over Allen Street, the boardwalks became deserted. The setting sun was at just the right angle to add contrast and definition to the aging storefronts, and the texture of the boardwalk became visible, every detail worn smooth by all the sightseers.

Along with Allen Street are other sights and events to enjoy in Tombstone, such as the rose garden tree and shootouts for kids who dream of days past. The real history of this area, though, is in the courthouse records, the mines and Boot Hill cemetery. It also helps to know a little about Tombstone before you go, so when you see the modern-day town you won't be disappointed.

This is a town too tough to die, because tourists keep it alive.

Contact Jo. L. Keener at jkeener@prescottaz.com