Tombstone: The Town Too Tough To Die

Tombstone is a step back in time!

Two years ago my husband and I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona. I’d been to the town once before but for some reason we never walked through the Bird Cage Saloon. Visiting the infamous building was on the top of my list this last time. I hope you enjoy my photos from this trip!

 Tombstone is located in southeastern Arizona and was the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Boothill Graveyard.

   

The town suffered two devastating fires: one in 1881 and again in 1882, but the Bird Cage Saloon survived both.The saloon was located in the heart of the red-light district on the corner of Allen Street and 6th Street. The photo below shows what the Bird Cage looked like before the outside was renovated. 

The building remained boarded up for the next fifty years before it reopened as a tourist attraction. The outside of the structure was remodeled to protect it from the elements. Inside the Bird Cage you will find the original wood floors that Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Luke Short and the Clanton family all walked across. Even the mirrors behind the bar are original. The only part of the inside that has been renovated is the staircase leading to the basement.

 

  The Bird Cage served many purposes as listed on this sign.

The saloon was considered a “house of negotiable affection” and for $25 a gentleman could buy a bottle of whiskey and time with a lady in one of the 13 “cages” or cribs suspended above the gambling parlor. 

Twenty-fours hours a day the vaudeville circuit played on the stage.

 

 

 

The piano in the picture has sat in that same spot since 1881. The piano was the first to arrive in Tombstone and was part of a five-piece band that played in the saloon from 1881-1889.

The saloon also had a barber if any cowboy wanted to “spiff up” before visiting the ladies in the upstairs cribs. 

 

Curly Bill

Outlaw Curly Bill was recognized getting a haircut in this chair and was later tracked down and killed by Wyatt Earp. The table is the original table in the gaming parlor where Doc Holliday was often seen playing and dealing Fargo.

       

 

The Longest Poker Game Ever Played

The basement of the saloon is where the serious gambling took place and was the location of the longest poker game ever played in history. The game lasted eight years, five months and three days. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. There was a $1,000 buy-in and a continuous list of gamblers waiting to get into the game. The saloon employed runners to go out on the street and find the next player on the list when someone folded or left the game which averaged every 3 to 4 days. 

Below are pictures of the basement gaming area. I was surprised at how small it was. In the photos you’ll see the original service bar that served drinks to the gamblers as well as the men visiting the two bordello rooms in the basement. The mirrors behind the bar have hung in the same place since 1881. The whiskey keg and heating stove are originals and have been in the same place since the Birdcage closed its doors. The gaming tables, chairs, dealers box and money boxes all sit where they were during the “longest game.”

  

 

The Infamous Sadie Jo

One of Tombstones most famous soiled doves, Sarah Josephine Marcus, who went by the name of Sadie Jo & Shady Sadie worked at the Bird Cage in the basement. Below is the room where she and Wyatt Earp had their romantic liaisons while she was engaged to the then sheriff of Tombstone, John Harris Behan. At the time Wyatt lived in a covered wagon fifty feet away from the Bird Cage with his common law wife Mattie. Wyatt left Mattie for Josephine and Mattie was forced into prostitution in Prescott, AZ. and later committed suicide by overdosing on laudanum.

Haunted Bird Cage 

You know me and my fascination with ghosts…well, it is said that 27 ghosts inhabit the Bird Cage Saloon—the same number of people believed to have been killed in the building.

Employees say they often smell perfume and cigar smoke when working as well as seeing apparitions. Ghost tours are given at night, and one day I’d love to return to Tombstone and take the tour.

Before I sign off, I have to share one more photo of this little cowboy I came across on my trip to Tombstone.

Giveaway

To be entered into a giveaway for a Kindle copy of all three books in my series share this blog post and put the link where you shared it in the comment section! I’ll post the winner’s name on Saturday Oct 14th in the comment section of this blog post.

Until Next Time….Happy Trails!

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Marin Thomas
I may have grown up in the Midwest but my favorite place in the whole world is Arizona. Hubby and I are recent empty nesters living in Phoenix and we like to take off and explore the Grand Canyon State every chance we get. I’ve been writing contemporary western romances since 2004 for Harlequin and have recently begun writing western stories for Tule Publishing Group. I also write romantic women's fiction for Berkley Books. When I’m not writing or traveling I spend my free time junk hunting and researching ghost tours. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter at http://bit.ly/MarinThomasUpdates and drop by my website at www.marinthomas.com to learn more about my books and find out where you can connect with me on social media.

23 Comments

  1. https://www.facebook.com/virginia.horton.3 I can’t believe a poker game lasted that long. Very interesting post.

    1. Quilt Lady…. every old town has stories to tell…it’s always fun taking these tours.

    2. Hi Virginia! Your name was drawn as the winner of my giveaway! Please contact marinthomasauthor@gamil.com to claim your prize. I’ll need the email you’d like Amazon to send all three books in my Cowboys of the Rio Grande series.

  2. Hi Marin. I thoroughly enjoyed your pics and the info. My first knowledge of Wyatt Earp was through the TV Western that starred Hugh O’Brien as Wyatt and I have always considered him to be the good guy. Your post has shown that we all have our weaknesses and failings!
    Thank you for sharing. I have shared it on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1943837008976399&id=100000503570104
    http://pin.it/jo82bSl
    https://twitter.com/cps1950/status/918474967137824768
    Thank you for sharing!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Connie, I didn’t know that about Wyatt Earp, either until I took the tour. Thank you for sharing my post that’s really nice of you!

  3. Good morning, Marin…..This is fascinating stuff! I’ve always wanted to go to Tombstone ever since I was a little girl. My family and I have gone all around it going to other places but we never took a detour. I’ve regretted that, especially the older I’ve gotten. We have a used bookstore not far from my house and I bought a book called Tombstone’s Epitaph that is a collection of all the newspaper articles from the 1800s. It’s a first edition 1951 copy and it provides the most interesting glimpse into life in Tombstone. And ghosts….I want to take that ghost tour with you. I’m all in when it comes to haunted places.

    1. Linda, if you get the chance to go to Tombstone sometime it’s worth the stop. Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is also haunted and does ghost tours. We ate lunch there and they usually have live country music/singers so its a lot of fun.

  4. Marin I have wanted to go to Tombstone forever.
    I’m just so fascinated by it and the chance to really see what things were like back then. I do so much research online that I have to FORCE myself to get out from behind Wikipedia and go try and actually touch something.
    I love this post!

    1. Mary the P&P’s need to go on a “western” road trip! There are still so many places I still want to visit!
      Google is great and a necessity but it is fun to see some of the places we write about 🙂

  5. https://twitter.com/cheetah1959. Tombstone sounds interesting but I like Jerome Arizona a little better old mining town on the side of a hill.

    1. Hi Kim…I’ve been to Jerome a couple of times and it’s a fun place to walk around–full of stories and ghosts!

  6. Shared – but don’t enter in contest

    1. Thank you Teresa! Hope your Thursday is off to a good start!

  7. https://www.facebook.com/deana.dick?hc_ref=ARROGJq_PS74OI53wtOwvfcEPG49r8wnL-drPS5A9fs3xbg5M3Jg9QSes-xwekMtcU4&fref=nf&pnref=story
    I loved reading about Tombstone. So many facts I didn’t know about. Thank you for sharing. I think I may need to take a trip there.

    1. Hi Deana! If you ever have the chance to get to Tombstone it’s worth it! Just plan the trip in the spring or fall when it’s not 115 degrees out 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing, Denise!

  8. https://www.facebook.com/caryl.kane/posts/10154751062681637

    WOW! I’d love to visit Tombstone. So much history!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Caryl and if you have a chance to visit–it’s worth it!

  9. Fascinating info. Love the pictures. Thank you for sharing .
    Carol Luciano

      1. Thanks for sharing, Carol!

  10. Dear ladies, thank you all for sharing my post about Tombstone!
    Congratulations to Virginia Horton! Virginia, your name was drawn in the giveaway for a Kindle copy of all three books in my Cowboys of the Rio Grande series! Please email marinthomasauthor@gmail.com to claim your prize!

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