11 July 2011

Photo Essays: Tombstone, AZ

By: Lorelie Brown

In October, 2009, my family moved to Arizona. On the weekends, we spend our time taking daytrips to all sorts of places. But what we love most of all are the ghost towns. They combine my husband's love of the wild with my sense of history--like they're tiny little pockets where both combine.

So naturally we had to visit one of the most famous Old West locations in Arizona. We made it to Tombstone in January, 2010.

The fabulous part is the old portion of Tombstone looks almost exactly like it did more than a hundred years ago:

See? Here it is today, with only the addition of some asphalt in the street (Well, and the tourists.):

I've always had a special fondness for Western romances. I feel like they harness that special optimism that's so very American. Of course we can put a town in the middle of a desert with no water around for miles, just for the silver under ground. And of course men can make their fortunes on dust.

Stagecoaches still roam the streets in Tombstone and for a small fee you can take a ride in one. I did, naturally:

We stopped by Boot Hill on our way out of town. Rows and rows of all sorts of people. Chinese who came with the railroad, gunslingers, gamblers, even women and children. My head went the places it usually does. Who were these people? What would prompt them to live in Arizona, of all places? I imagine they'd have to be a hardy, blunt sort to make it, whether living there was their choice or not.

The Bird Cage Theater is almost exactly the same as it was back then. What would life have been like if that had been your primary source of entertainment? No Blackberries, no iPods, no movies.

I won't say that Tombstone was the only influence on my upcoming western romance. Obviously, there's no silver mining and Dean is dragging Maggie halfway across the country, not staying in one town populated by gamblers and miners. But I like to think that a tiny bit of Tombstone's spirit--since it's "The Town that Wouldn't Die"-- has imbued CATCH ME.

Lorelie Brown's first book, JAZZ BABY, is currently available from Samhain Publishing in both e-book and paperback formats. CATCH ME, an 1880s-set western, will be published by Carina Press on 18 July.


Dr J said...

I really stayed away from American historicals--just didn't seem to have the romance and "other world" kind of quality as the English Regency historicals. But I have changed my tune in recent years and have gone on an American historical kick. The pictures of Tombstone were beautiful and both books really look like I would want to read them. Thanks for sharing . . .

Karen Mercury said...

I went to Tombstone once--it was awesome! I just happened to be driving by on my way to a mineral shop in Bisbee. I just love the desert.

Karen Mercury said...

Oh and I couldn't agree more, Dr J. I never thought I'd write an American historical but it's fascinating! I'm writing my 4th in this series about the California Gold Rush. Never a dull moment. :)

Jacquie Rogers said...

I love western historical romance. Thanks for this wonderful photo essay of Tombstone--I really want to visit there some day!