Gunfight at the OK Corral

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

The "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is an 1881 event that really gave attention to Tombstone Arizona. It's a prime story that put the town on the world-wide map! People still talk about it, hold opinions about it & discuss it today.

Have you heard about it? Seems like you may have - and that's why you stopped by... Have you watched any of the movies about it? Maybe you've already formed your opinion on who was in the right - who was in the wrong? If so - we'd like you to let us in on what YOU think... Sound Off!!

Gunfight at the OK CorralDown Allen St., Past 4th is the OK Corral

There was one immediate outcome of the gunfight that day - 3 men were dead, 3 men were injured -  2 somewhat seriously. But many things led up to that gunfight. Other repercussions resulted specifically from the gunfight.

We'll give you the background and the story here: Read More Now>

But first, when you come to town - how can you get a living history view of this famous shoot-out? There are a few ways to do that in historic Tombstone AZ. 

We want to steer you right. So what we recommend for everyone - is the place where it actually happened...

Visit the Site of The Gunfight at the OK Corral

The block on which the shoot-out occurred has been restored. It's been remade into an authentic production explaining the events of that day. You can be entertained while reliving those historical incidents.

What you'll want to do is get your tickets for the OK Corral. Here are the details you should know...

  • The OK Corral Entrance is on Allen Street, between Third & Fourth Streets: 326 E. Allen Street, Tombstone 85638
  • They're open every day; except are closed on Christmas Day & Thanksgiving Day
  • The Gunfight at the OK Corral historical site complex is open from 9 am to 5 pm
  • They have specific showtimes for the gunfight reenactment: 12 noon, 2 pm & 3:30 pm - on occasion they add an extra show if demand calls for it (call to ask if you're running late)
  • Also included in your ticket is the Historama Theater. View this production narrated by Vincent Price detailing Tombstone's history and background of the shoot-out. It begins hourly.
  • Walk the OK Corral grounds & stables to see where the gunfight took place & a representation of how it appeared in 1881.
  • Visit C.S. Fly's Photo Studio, where Doc Holliday had a rented room. View the historical photos taken there.
OK Corral, Tombstone AZA Visitor in Tombstone at the OK Corral
  • Your ticket also includes a tour of the Tombstone Epitaph Museum, the longest running newspaper in Tombstone, open from 9:30 am to 6 pm. Pick up your free reprint of the Epitaph's report of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Learn about John Clum, its first editor, and first official Mayor of Tombstone.
  • The "Earps" & "Doc Holliday" regularly are out front for individual photos between shows
  • You can tour the OK Corral Gunfight site without taking in the reenactment show.
  • 5 years of age & under are Free; All Activities/Events - $10 per person; Activities Without Gunfight Reenactment Show - $6 per person.
  • For any questions or details call them at (520) 457-3456
  • ALL IN ALL A GREAT EXPERIENCE & A GREAT VALUE!

Other OK Corral Gunfight Experiences

Shoot-out at the OK Corral Anniversary Tour: October 26

OK Corral October 26 Anniversary TourWalk the Streets of those involved in The Gunfight of the OK Corral on the Anniversary Tour

Yearly on the Anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, the OK Corral Gunfight Site sponsors a Free Tour. If you're in Tombstone on this day, we highly recommend it.

There's nothing like hearing the turn of events on the anniversary of this historical day! Here are some details:

  • It's a Walking Tour covering the streets where the men involved walked prior to the gunfight
  • If it's being sponsored, it will be held just after the Gunfight Site's closing time, about 5 pm
  • Stop at the ticket office at the OK Corral Gunfight Site during the day to let them know you're interested in the tour - they'll give you a ticket
  • Everyone with tickets gathers on Allen Street in front of the OK Corral at the time of the Tour's start
  • One of the "Earps" takes you through the happenings of that day as you walk the same streets they did all those years ago

Tombstone Walking Tours by Dr. Jay

OK Corral Gunfight Tour by Dr. JayDr. Jay Explains What Happened at the OK Corral Gunfight

Local resident, Dr. Jay, schedules regular tours through the streets of Tombstone. He covers the incidents surrounding the Gunfight at the OK Corral in his tour. Read More>

Mobilized Tours

Other Tours through town go over the affairs surrounding the shoot-out. The Gunfight at the OK Corral is so identified with Tombstone Arizona, that most tours cover it to some degree. Two general tours you can consider will give you an overview of the gunfight:

  • Stagecoach Tours - These are fun! Take transportation that was common for people living in the days of the Wild West! Hear an overview of Tombstone's history, as well as the OK Corral Shoot-out. More Here>
  • Trolley Tours - The Tombstone Trolley takes you to areas that the Stagecoaches don't cover. But they do some overlapping. The narration is exceptional! We really recommend this tour, as well as a Stagecoach. He covers info on the Gunfight, as well as other interesting historical events. Read More>

The OK Corral Gunfight Events -
October 26, 1881 Summary

Preceding Events

The immediate prelude to the Gunfight at the OK Corral began the day before - October 25th. Two area ranchers, known as The Cow-boys arrived in Tombstone around lunchtime. They were Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury. Their intent was to do some errands, and then hit the saloons for some enjoyment.

Wyatt Earp had previously made a deal with Ike and Tom. Wyatt had been vying for the position of Cochise County Sheriff the next year. He thought if he could make a capture of recent stage robbers, it would improve his chances.

His deal with Ike and Tom had been for help in organizing the capture of those robbers. They had ties to the culprits. Wyatt offered them the (dead or alive) reward money, he only wanted the renown for the capture. Ike and Tom agreed with assurances their involvement would be kept secret.

Meanwhile the stage robbers were gunned down & killed by stockmen named the Haslett Brothers. Ike and Tom realized their deal was off. They began to think Wyatt now had no reason to keep quiet about their agreement. They never had a really friendly relationship with the Earps, and it deteriorated further now.

Ike Growls

Western Bar

So on October 25th, Ike Clanton and Frank McLaury were in Tombstone bars, drinking and gambling throughout the day and into the night. As their intoxication level increased their mood began to sour. By 1 in the morning of the 26th, Ike went into the Occidental's lunch counter for some food. Doc Holliday and Morgan Earp happened to be in there also.

Some say Doc was irritable, and both he and Ike began getting at each other. It's unclear really who began it all, but both were obviously inebriated. They cursed each other, with Doc finally telling Ike to get out his gun. Ike told him he wasn't armed. Doc said "Go arm yourself then." [Ike Clanton testimony, Turner, OK Corral Inquest, p. 33] Apparently Ike went off to do just that.

Oddly he returned and began playing poker with Tom, Virgil Earp and a few others. But Ike still griped about how Doc had treated him. When the game ended at about 6 am, he walked in the street by Virgil. Ike complained to Virgil the "son of a bitch has got to fight." He replied to Ike, "I am an officer....I am going down home now to go to bed, I don't want you to raise any disturbance while I am in bed." [Virgil Earp disposition, Turner, OK Corral Inquest, p.191]

Ike Violates the Gun Law

Ike Clanton interacted with some others in town, roaming around with a Winchester complaining about Doc Holliday and the Earps. City Ordinance No. 9 did not allow gun carry within the town limits without a special permit. Word spread that there was going to be an encounter.

Virgil comes from behind

When Virgil awoke, he heard of Ike's actions. He called on Wyatt and Morgan and together they found Ike about lunchtime. Right on Fourth Street, North of Allen, Virgil went to Ike from the rear. He struck him on the side of his head with his pistol, causing a bloody injury. He took Ike's guns and brought him to court. While Justice Wallace fined him $25 & $2.50 in costs, Ike continuously chewed out the Earps.

On this morning Tom McLaury heard of Ike's arrest and court proceedings. He put up his own gun, as the law required, at the Capitol Saloon and went to find Ike. Nearby the court Wyatt appeared to ask if he was armed, he said no. Wyatt slapped his face and then used his old Dodge City tactic and clunked him hard on the head with his own pistol. Tom fell to the ground, and Wyatt left him there.

Cow-boy Brothers

Big Nose Kate's Bar, Tombstone AZInside Big Nose Kate's

Shortly after this occurred, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton - Ike and Tom's brothers - also arrive in Tombstone. They went into the Grand Hotel (currently where Big Nose Kate's is located) & exchanged greetings with Doc Holliday, shaking hands. Others there let them know the events of the morning with the Earps and their brothers.

Frank and Billy set out to find them, locating Ike and Tom at Spangenberg's Gun Shop, where Ike purchased a gun. Frank secured his horse on the sidewalk in front - against a town ordinance. Wyatt came along, purposely moved his horse into the street and there was a wordy exchange!

Virgil came along and no arrests were made since it seemed the McLaurys and Clantons were now intent on leaving town. Sheriff Behan also interceded as they were headed out, and confirmed they weren't in violation if they were leaving town.

The O.K Corral

Tom and Frank, & Ike and Billy walked through Dunbar's Stable toward the OK Corral. They gathered in a vacant lot to the west of C.S. Fly's boarding house and photo gallery, also just West of the OK Corral. A friend of Billy Clanton came in there with them - Billy Claiborne. They stood a bit, talking about what had been going on. Frank and Billy Clanton saddled up, getting ready to ride out.

Sheriff Behan

At the same time, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp got together with Doc Holliday. Hearing of how the Cow-boys had been mouthing off around town of the treatment they'd endured at the Earps' hand that morning, they weren't pleased. They felt they might not be leaving town, and if not Virgil planned "to take away their arms, intimidate them, and again show them who was boss." [Bailey, L.R. (1999) A tale of the unkilled: The life, times and writings of Wells W. Spicer. Tucson: Westernlore Press] Walking West on Fremont Street, Sheriff Behan tried calling them off. [See his court testimony - Click Here>]


But they brushed past him, and continued on...


The Gunfight at the OK Corral happened in the space of about 30 secondsThe Drama of the Gunfight Brought World-wide Fame to Tombstone

The Shoot-out is Imminent...

The Earps, Clantons and McClaurys in the Gunfight at the OK Corral

As they went into the lot, Claiborne sensed the ominous tone and left. The Earps went right up to the Clantons and McLaurys. Virgil said "Boys, throw up your hands, I want your guns." Another voice said - most think it was Wyatt - "you have been looking for a fight, and now you can have it."

Winchester rifle

Then the firing started! Quickly it all happened. It is hard to say with whom it began, it was essentially simultaneously.

Frank McLaury died immediately. Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead within minutes. Virgil Earp was shot in the right leg, Morgan Earp took bullets across the back hitting both shoulder blades. Doc Holliday was just grazed by his hip. Wyatt was not at all harmed. Ike Clanton fled the scene after the shooting began.

Aftermath

The next day town folk watched a procession to the Town Cemetery - Boothill. A funeral wagon carried the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton. A banner on the wagon proclaimed "Murdered on the Streets of Tombstone." Talk in Tombstone was split over who was to blame. The two main newspapers, as well. The Epitaph supported the Earps, the Nugget supported the Cow-boys.

The aftermath of the Gunfight at the OK Corral took on a life of its own. The surviving Cow-boys, especially Ike Clanton, continued seeking his own justice.

The Earps, especially Wyatt, felt their reputation was wronged. Subsequent actions by the Cow-boys provoked further actions on Wyatt's part, which led to another Chapter in the story of Wyatt Earp.


What Do You Think?

We'd like you to express your opinion on the events of that day. Give us your input. As mentioned, when people learn about it - feelings still run high! Here's a chance to express your view on that shoot-out. And the events leading up to it.

  • What is your assessment? 
  • What comments do you have about the men involved? 
  • Who do you think instigated the Gunfight at the OK Corral? 
  • Who was more at fault? 
  • Do you think it was an inevitable situation?

Let's hear what you have to say...

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