Built in 1882 in the shape of a Roman cross, the two-story Victorian structure once housed the offices of the sheriff, recorder, treasurer, board of supervisors, jail, and courtrooms of Cochise County. Today, the 12,000 square foot courthouse is a museum filled with the glitter and guns of those who tamed the territory.
A little History
Tombstone reached its pinnacle of riches and then faded, all within the short span of eight years. The West's wildest mining town owes its beginning to Ed Schieffelin, who prospected the nearby hills in 1877. Friends warned him that all he would ever find would be his own tombstone. But instead of an Apache bullet, he found silver — ledges of it — and the rush was on.
Miners soon built a shantytown on the closest level space to the mines, then known as Goose Flats. Remembering the grim prophecy given to Schieffelin, and with tongue in cheek, they changed the name to Tombstone.
In 1881 was an eventful one for the mining camp. The population reached 10,000, rivaling both Tucson (county seat) and Prescott (territorial capital). The Earp and Clanton feud culminated in the famous gunfight near the OK Corral. A disastrous fire burned out much of the infant town, but it was immediately rebuilt. Schieffelin Hall was erected to provide legitimate theater and a meeting hall for the Masonic Lodge.
When water began to seep into the shafts, pumps were installed, but the mines were soon flooded to the 600-foot level and could not be worked. By 1886, Tombstone's heyday was over, but not before $37,000,000 worth of silver had been taken from the mines.
As Tombstone's population grew, so did its political power. In 1881, the Arizona Legislature established Cochise County. No longer would the nearest county office be a long two-day ride.
Built in 1882 at a cost of nearly $50,000, the Cochise County Courthouse was a stylish building as well as a comfortable symbol of law and stability in these turbulent times. It housed the offices of the sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and the board of supervisors. The jail was at the rear, under the courtroom.
A series of colorful people held office here. John Slaughter was a local cattleman who, as sheriff, virtually cleared the county of outlaws. Some were awkwardly unconventional, such a Deputy Sheriff Burt Alford, who was experienced on both sides of the law.
Tombstone remained the county seat until 1929, when outvoted by a growing Bisbee, and the county seat was moved there. The last county office left the courthouse in 1931.
Many other things on display about the history of Tombstone and the area which included miners, cattle barons, outlaws and of course Cochise and Geronimo and the Apache nation that lived here.
We then took to the streets and stopped in some of the shops and had a very delicious hamburger, fries and a Margarita at the Longhorn Restaurant and Saloon. So many things to see we will be back in a few days for more. The Bird Cage Theater is on our list.
The Bird Cage Theatre was a combination theater, saloon, gambling parlor and brothel that operated from 1881 to 1889 in Tombstone.
Enjoy the photos...there will be more from this 'snap-shooter'!!
Staying home today. Betty has a craft get together this afternoon (she'll be doing cards) in the clubhouse and it's also laundry time. BBQ chicken tonight.
Did I mention it was sunny and 82 today? If not we apologize.
More later...happy trails!