The “Gunfight at the OK Corral” is an 1881 event that gave attention to Tombstone Arizona. The 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 of it? Seems like you may have – and that’s why you stopped by. Have you watched any of the movies about it? Have you already formed your opinion on who was in the right – who was in the wrong? If so – we’d like to hear what YOU think… Sound Off!!
There was one immediate outcome of the OK Corral gunfight that day: three men were dead, three men were injured. But many things led up to that gunfight. Other repercussions resulted from the gunfight.
Get the Gunfight Background and Story>
ut first, when you get to town, want to get a living history view of this famous OK shoot-out? There are a few ways to do that in historic Tombstone AZ.
What we recommend first, is the place where it actually happened:
We Get Our Best Rates On Vacation stays With Them! It’s why we recommend…
Visit the Site:
The Gunfight at the OK Corral
They restored the block where the shoot-out occurred. It’s been remade into a production explaining the events of that day. You’ll be entertained while reliving those historical gunfight incidents.
Here are the details you should know:
- The OK Corral Entrance is on Allen Street, between 3rd & 4th Streets: 326 E. Allen, Tombstone
- Open every day; except closed on Christmas Day & Thanksgiving Day
- The Gunfight at the OK Corral historical site complex is open from 9 am to 5 pm
- The OK Corral Gunfight Site has gunfight reenactment showtimes: 12 noon, 2 pm & 3:30 pm
- An extra show added on if demand calls for it (call to ask if you’re running late)
- Included in your ticket is the Historama Theater. Hourly film narrated by Vincent Price details Tombstone’s history and the shoot-out.
- Walk the OK Corral grounds & stables
- See the actual spot where the gunfight happened
- View how it appeared in 1881
- Visit the recreation of C.S. Fly’s Photo Studio & Doc Holliday’s rented room. See Fly’s historical photos.
- Also tour the Tombstone Epitaph Museum, Tombstone’s immemorial newspaper. Get your Free Epitaph reprint of its Gunfight at the OK Corral report.
- The “Earps” & “Doc Holliday” are regularly available for your own photo shoots between shows
- The cost for the Gunfight at the OK Corral experience:
- 5 years of age & under Free
- All Activities/Events – $10 per person
- Activities Without Gunfight Reenactment Show – $6 per person.
- For any questions or details call them: (520) 457-3456
Other OK Corral Gunfight Experiences
Shoot-out at the OK Corral Anniversary Tour: October 26
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:
- 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 OK Corral Gunfight Site ticket desk during the day to let them know you’re interested in the tour. They’ll give you a ticket
- Everyone 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
Local resident, Dr. Jay, schedules regular walking tours through the streets of Tombstone. He covers the incidents surrounding the Gunfight at the OK Corral in his interesting and entertaining guided walk around town. See the details of his and other Tombstone Walking 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. Find out more on the Gunfight Via Stagecoach>
- Trolley Tours – Tombstone Trolleys take you to areas that Stagecoaches don’t cover. They do a little overlapping. The narration is exceptional! They cover info on the Gunfight, as well as other interesting historical events/areas. So Travel the Trolley>
Any of These Tours Are Worth Your While – We’ve Taken Them, and Recommend Any of Them!
The OK Corral Gunfight Events
October 26, 1881 Summary
Preceding Gunfight Events
The immediate prelude to the Gunfight at the OK Corral began the day before, on October the 25th. Two area ranchers, known as Cochise County Cow-boys arrived in Tombstone around lunchtime. They were Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury. Their intent was to do errands, and then hit the saloons for enjoyment.
Wyatt Earp had previously made a deal with Ike. Wyatt had been vying for the position of Cochise County Sheriff the next year. He thought capturing recent stage robbers would improve his chances.
His deal with Ike was for help in capturing those robbers. Ike had ties to the culprits. Wyatt offered him the (dead or alive) reward money, he only wanted renown for the capture. Ike agreed, with assurances his involvement would be kept secret.
Meanwhile the stage robbers were gunned down & killed by stockmen: the Haslett Brothers. Ike realized the deal was off. He now figured Wyatt had no reason to keep quiet about their agreement. He’d never been friendly with the Earps. Now his relationship deteriorated further.
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 soured. By one in the morning of the 26th, Ike went to the Occidental’s lunch counter to eat. Doc Holliday and Morgan Earp were there.
Some say Doc was irritable, and both he and Ike began getting at each other. It’s unclear 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.”1 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.” 2
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.
When Virgil awoke, he heard of Ike’s actions. He called on Wyatt and Morgan. Together they found Ike about lunchtime. On 4th 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 and $2.50 in costs, Ike continuously chewed out the Earps.
That 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 and asked Tom if he was armed. He said no. Wyatt slapped his face and then used his old Dodge City tactic: clunking him hard on the head with his pistol. Tom fell to the ground, and Wyatt left him there.
Shortly after this, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, Ike and Tom’s brothers, also arrived in Tombstone. They went into the Grand Hotel (now where Big Nose Kate’s is located) and greeted Doc Holliday, shaking hands. Others there let them know what happened that morning with the Earps and their brothers.
Frank and Billy went 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, prohibited by town ordinance. Wyatt came along, and purposely moved Frank’s horse into the street. There was a heated, wordy exchange!
Virgil came along, but made no arrests, since it seemed the McLaurys and Clantons intended to leave town. Sheriff Behan also interceded as they headed out, confirming they weren’t in violation if they were leaving town.
The O.K Corral
Tom & Frank, and Ike & Billy walked through Dunbar’s Stable toward the OK Corral. They gathered in a vacant lot west of C.S. Fly’s boarding house and photo gallery. That’s Northwest of the current OK Corral entrance. A friend of Billy Clanton came by, Billy Claiborne. They stood a bit, talking over the morning’s events. Frank and Billy Clanton saddled up, getting ready to ride out.
At the same time, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp got together with Doc Holliday. They weren’t pleased at hearing how the Cow-boys had been mouthing off around town of the Earps’ treatment of them that morning.
They felt these Cowboys might not actually be leaving town. And if not, Virgil planned “to take away their arms, intimidate them, and again show them who was boss.”3
Walking West on Fremont Street, Sheriff Behan tried calling them off. [See a paper related to his court testimony: pages 13 & 29 – Click Here>] But they brushed past him, and continued on…
The Shoot-out is Imminent…
As the Earps entered 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.”4 Another voice said (many think it was Wyatt) “you have been looking for a fight, and now you can have it.” 5
Then the firing started! Quickly it all happened. It’s hard to say with whom it began, it was essentially simultaneously. All told, when it began, there was about a bullet a second for half a minute!
Morgan’s first shot hit Billy’s wrist, hampering his shooting efforts. He was further hit in the chest and gut, but still managed to empty his gun. C.S. Fly came out of his shop and took Billy’s gun as he was calling for more ammo.6
Tom was shot in the chest, close-range, by Doc.7 He wobbled down the street to the corner, and fell over. Unconscious, he lay there while the gunfight was ending.8 Frank was mortally wounded when hit in the head.9
Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead by day’s end. Virgil Earp was shot in the right leg, Morgan Earp took bullets across the back hitting both shoulder blades. Doc Holliday was just grazed at his hip. Wyatt wasn’t at all harmed. Ike Clanton fled the scene as the shooting began.10
The next day town folk watched a procession to the Town Cemetery: Boothill. Funeral wagons carried the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton. A banner on the front wagon proclaimed “Murdered on the Streets of Tombstone.”
Talk in Tombstone was split over the 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 Shootout at the OK Corral became an infamous story. Some of the players stuck to their guns in seeking their own justice:
- The Cow-boys, especially Ike Clanton, continued on via the law
- The Earps, especially Wyatt, felt their reputation was wronged. And subsequent actions by the Cow-boys provoked further actions on Wyatt’s part.
- That led to another Chapter in the story of Wyatt Earp.
1 Ike Clanton testimony, Turner, OK Corral Inquest, p. 33.
2 Virgil Earp disposition, Turner, OK Corral Inquest, p.191.
3Bailey, L.R. (2004) Too tough to die: The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp; 1878 to 1990. Tucson: Westernlore Press.
4 Linder, Douglas, ed. (2005). “Testimony of Virgil Earp in the Preliminary Hearing in the Earp Case”. Famous trials: The O. K. Corral trial. Retrieved 10 August 2017. From Turner, Alford (Ed.), The O. K. Corral Inquest (1992)
5 Bailey, L.R.(2004) Too tough to die: The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp; 1878 to 1990. Tucson: Westernlore Press.
6 Turner, Alford E. (1981). The OK Corral Inquest. College Station, Texas: Creative Publishing company. ISBN 0-932702-16-3.
7 Weir, William (2009). History’s Greatest Lies: the Startling Truths Behind World Events our History Books Got Wrong. Beverly, Mass.: Fair Winds Press. p. 288. ISBN 1-59233-336-2.
8 “Another Chapter in the Bloody Episode”. Famous Trials. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
10 Bailey, L.R. (2004) Too tough to die: The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp; 1878 to 1990. Tucson: Westernlore Press.