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:
Fun Family-Friendly Walking Tour!
The Tombstone Quest is a unique adventure. Use an interactive story to discover the history of this fantastic old West town. The game starts by asking you to imagine you've rode into Tombstone on your horse to stake a new silver mining claim. And yes - it's October 26, 1881!
The story includes the O.K. Corral, as well as other Tombstone historic icons like the Epitaph, the Bird Cage Theater, Big Nose Kate's saloon and the Court House. Solve clues and challenges while learning local history tidbits and fun facts.
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>
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:
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. 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 had been for help in organizing the capture of those robbers. He had ties to the culprits. Wyatt offered him the (dead or alive) reward money, he only wanted the renown for the capture. Ike agreed with assurances his involvement would be kept secret.
Meanwhile the stage robbers were gunned down & killed by stockmen named the Haslett Brothers. Ike realized the deal was off. He now thought Wyatt had no reason to keep quiet about the agreement. He never had a really friendly relationship with the Earps, and it now deteriorated further.
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."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 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. Right 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.
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 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 own pistol. Tom fell to the ground, and Wyatt left him there.
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) and 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, and purposely moved Frank's horse into the street. There was a heated, 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.
Tom & Frank, and Ike & 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. That's also just Northwest of where you see the OK Corral entrance now. 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.
At the same time, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp got together with Doc Holliday. Hearing 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 that 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...
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."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 is 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 he was hit in the head.9
Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead by the end of the day. 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.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 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.
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.
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.
Let's hear what you have to say...