Monday, December 12, 2005

Ghosts of Tombstone

Brian

So run you cur. And tell the other curs the law is coming. You tell 'em I'm coming! And Hell's coming with me, you hear? Hell's coming with me!
    - Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Tombstone (1993)
In a corner of the Southwest not far from my native city is a town that was once so central to the Wild West that it could have been Arizona's state capital. Now, if it weren't for the tourists who've seen the movies and heard the stories, Tombstone would be a ghost town. Or maybe, in a sense, it already is:
Modern Tombstone, which owes its livelihood to tourism, makes sure visitors take notice: Stroll through Boothill Graveyard, where graves are marked with narratives such as "Margarita, Stabbed by Gold Dollar" and "Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a .44. No Les, No More." Or walk down Allen Street, where signs denote murder locations: "Curly Bill Brocius killed Marshal Fred White here on Oct. 28, 1880."

Given that so many of Tombstone's former inhabitants met a violent end, it's not surprising that shadowy tales of apparitions and phantoms swirl on the desert wind.

"A lot of people came to live here 100 years ago and never left," said Bill Huntley, chuckling. "They're all still here, no doubt about it." Huntley, who has lived in Tombstone for 64 years, owns the Bird Cage Theatre, one of the few remaining original buildings in town. Some say the spirits of its bawdy past still celebrate there.

A parapsychology team from Duke University in Durham, N.C., studied Tombstone's haunted sites nearly half a century ago, Huntley said. Others, including the History Channel, which recently released a DVD called Haunted Tombstone, have conducted paranormal studies since.
Link (via the Anomalist). Of course, if I lived in Tombstone, I wouldn't be as worried about the ghosts as about the thunderbirds.

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Image credits: Tombstone in Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona by Russell Lee, 1940, Library of Congress.

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