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.