Tombstone Travel Tips

Tombstone Travel Tips

Bucket of Blood Saloon

Vintage Photo from 1880s of Allen & 5th SE Corner
On It Noted as “Owl Cafe” – But It Wasn’t There Yet
Was It the Bucket of Blood? Let’s See…

Many Around, Including Tombstone

Tombstone AZ has for many years claimed an 1880s saloon named the “Bucket of Blood.” It’s said to have been at the Southeast corner of 5th & Allen Streets. Where the Longhorn Restaurant is now located.

It’s difficult to locate corroborating evidence to support this claim. Everyone repeats nearly the same lines, with no accompanying support. Including the local Tombstone Restoration Commission. There were other Bucket of Blood Saloons in AZ, though.

We’ll continue to look for the Tombstone documentation. But meanwhile we’ll show you what information circulates about all the Bucket of Blood Saloons.


Tombstone’s Bucket of Blood

“On December 28th of 1881…. Virgil Earp was ambushed [by] assassins hidden in a new building under construction…. Virgil was severely wounded…. but lost the use of his left arm…. Later it [the building] became a popular saloon called the Bucket of Blood. In 1909 it was remodeled into a tourist hotel. In 1928 it became the Owl Cafe and Tourist Hotel. The historic building burned in a fire in 1942…. A new building was erected in the 1950’s and in the 1970’s it became the Longhorn Restaurant.”

Above quoted summary from the Tombstone Restoration Commission on the Historical Marker Project website.

The Southernarizonaguide.com website on their Tombstone Restaurants page has similar info about SE 5th & Allen. “The first building here housed the Meyer’s Bros. Clothing Co. Later, it became the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Then in 1909, it was remodeled and became the Owl Cafe & Tourist Hotel. That incarnation burned down in 1942. The present-day building was erected in the 1950’s and became the Longhorn Restaurant in the ’70’s.

Bucket of Blood – Owl Cafe Historic Placque

From the Arizona Republic – Phoenix News
Sat., Sept. 18, 1897 – Pg. 8
Reviewing the Pearce Mining Camp

Pearce Arizona

Yet in the 1880s, a nearby town did have a Bucket of Blood Saloon. Documentation for that exists, even in local Tombstone newspapers! While mention of the Tombstone saloon is hard to come by!

Pearce is now known more as a mining ghost town, although there are some residents in the area. It was booming the decade after Tombstone. And it indeed had a “Bucket of Blood” saloon, opened by Al King.

Ad for Bucket of Blood Saloon in Pearce AZ
From the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph
Sun., April 25, 1897 – Pg. 2

Kingman Arizona

Kingman also had a Bucket of Blood Saloon! It had some notoriety throughout Arizona, when a killing occurred there in 1898.

That incident made the newspapers in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff & Globe. It was ruled justifiable homicide by the coroner’s jury.

The shooter was defending his brother in a life or death situation. The man killed was from Illinois.

From Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star
Sat., Nov. 12, 1898 – Pg. 1

Holbrook AZ News From Phoenix’s Arizona Republic
Wed., Jan. 22, 1896 – Pg. 1

Most Famed

Arizona’s most well-known & notorious is the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Holbrook. It had a reputation for at least 10 shootings within – during the Wild West era! Now, along iconic Rt. 66, the old ruin gets its share of visitors. Read More>

Local Announcement in the Holbrook Argus Sat., May 8, 1897 – Pg. 3

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From the Tombstone Prospector – Wed., Oct. 11, 1899 – Pg 4

The “Original” Bucket of Blood Saloon is claimed by that in Virginia City, Nevada. Still there today, since 1876, they’re located at 1 So. C St. They’ve certainly renovated over the years.

Virginia City’s Bucket of Blood Saloon Sign

Photo Credit: Carole J. Buckwalter
Taken on 3rd September, 2014
Cropped on Edges by Tombstone Tips


Tombstone’s Own Story

So as the story in Tombstone goes – we have the historic Southeast corner of 5th & Allen. It’s now the Longhorn Restaurant. What happened in its past?

Virgil Earp was hit by gunfire that came from the 2nd floor of this building. Verified in the Epitaph of 12/29/1881, Tasker & Pridham’s store (grocery) was on that corner that day. They said the construction above was the rebuilding of the Old Palace Saloon.

According to accounts already named, later in the 1880s that corner held Meyer’s Bros. Clothing Co. Varied accounts name it as having been the Bucket of Blood Saloon at some time either earlier or later. Then, most well-known, in the 1920s & verifiable by photographs – it became the Owl Cafe & Hotel.

On May 28, 1942 Joe Hood was the building’s owner. The Owl’s Tourist Hotel had 20 rooms, mostly rented to Fort Huachuca employees. Fire consumed it that day. Along with the attached cafe, bowling alley, Greyhound bus office & rear owner’s apt.

And so the story goes – a new building went up in the 50s, with the Longhorn Restaurant there in the 70s.

Today’s SE corner 5th & Allen – Longhorn Restaurant

There are often historical events that make one want to know what were the true facts for people who roamed Tombstone & places in the Old West. We like to try to find the accurate facts.

And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.

We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, seeing areas where they spent time – back in the 1800s.

Let us know if you’ll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments – credit with just a first name & last initial; or only initials; or anonymous.)