Picture This – Boot Hill

28 Nov

Tombstone is on television at the moment, and it brings to mind a trip I made to the real Tombstone a few years ago. For anyone interested in the American West, this small town in southern Arizona is a place that must be visited. Not only is it the location of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but it is also the perfect example of the boom and bust economy of the 1800s American West.

There are places in Tombstone that everyone has to see. The OK Corral is the most famous and the most popular. The Birdcage Theater was one of the most famous houses of sin and ill repute and is currently advertised as one of the most haunted places in the United States. People should also stop by and chat with an important resident. Ben Traywick is the local historian and is a native of my Tennessee county. When I visited with Mr. Traywick, we spent an hour talking about people that we both knew before branching into the history of Tombstone.

Those are great ways to learn, but the essence of the West comes through at Boot Hill Cemetery. This is the place where you can focus on the hardships faced by the people who lived in this environment. The myth portrayed at the other sites fades away to show the reality of life in the West. The cemetery is filled with people who died through violence, disease and other dangers faced on a daily basis.

The above photograph shows the graves of the men killed at the OK Corral. Movies show them as bad guys who tempted fate by facing down the heroic Earp family and their friend Doc Holliday. Movies can be simplified into those wearing the black hats and those wearing the white hats. However, history is not that simple. Maybe, they were bad. Maybe, they were good. The fact is that they ended up in Boot Hill alongside many others.

4 Responses to “Picture This – Boot Hill”

  1. seniorhiker November 28, 2012 at 18:11 #

    I would really like to have the opportunity to visit Tombstone and Boot Hill. The reality is often very different from the movie images we see.

    • Rick November 28, 2012 at 19:41 #

      Tombstone is a little touristy, but it’s still an interesting place. It’s hard to imagine that a thriving community sprung up in the middle of nowhere.

  2. DyingNote December 1, 2012 at 10:01 #

    I completely relate to that last paragraph. History, or the way it was taught to us in school, was such a disappointment. People were turned to heroes and villains. Even the more objective views get coloured by individual perspective. Disappointing, because it should be fascinating but for character hijacking

    • Rick December 3, 2012 at 15:41 #

      History is a complicated story, and many people like to simplify it for their own agendas. It’s difficult to be completely objective, but we have to be as objective and as truthful as possible.

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