Old West towns in Cochise County

Mining fueled Tombstone's boom town days. Photo courtesy of the Cochise County Tourism Council

Gunslingers.  Apaches. Cowboys.  The Calvary and the Indian Wars. All of these are memories of the Old West.

Tombstone is the one of the most memorable towns of the Old West. It’s a legendary Arizona town because of the Hollywood films like Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell (plus Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott), and Wyatt Earp, starring Kevin Costner (and a long list of others: Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid, Catherine O’Hara and Isabella Rosselini to name a few).

The town of Tombstone is real; it’s not a fake town built just for the movie. And the incidents that happen in that town in 1881 inspired those movies (though Tombstone historians would tell you that Hollywood got lots of details wrong). Start a visit at the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park to find out what really happened at the O.K. Corral on that fateful day in October.

Make sure you plan more than just a day in Cochise County, because there’s plenty of Old West history to explore. Ghost towns line the San Pedro River, and with the nearby Chiricahua Mountains, the heartland of Cochise, Geronimo, and the Chiricahua Apache, you can really get a great overall view of what the Old West was really like.

Nearby, Sierra Vista has its share of Old West history as Fort Huachuca is the “Home of the Buffalo Soldiers.” The Sierra Vista Visitor Center created an audio driving tour CD to entertain and educate visitors on their drives in Cochise County. The late Rex Allen narrates the tour. He shares the area history, legends and myths. You can download a free copy of the CD, “How the West was Fun” by visiting the Sierra Vista website, or by calling 1-800-288-3861. Two drives are available: one from Tucson to Sierra Vista and one from Willcox to Sierra Vista.

Visit  the Old West and Ranching page of the county’s Cochise Origins website for an overview of the area’s history.

Have you explored any other Old West sites in Cochise County? Leave a comment below, and tell us about your experience!

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