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TOMBSTONE ('The town too tough to die') in Cochise County, Arizona is now a well-known tourist attraction.

  In 1877 Ed Schieffelin, a prospector, rode out into Apache Indian territory (his friends thought he was crazy and that the only thing he would discover would be his own tombstone!) and discovered a significant silver deposit. Having established his claim, which he called 'Tombstone' he went on to set up a mine and township, originally called Goose Flats but changed to Tombstone in 1879.

  Tombstone quickly became one of the largest, richest and most lawless mining towns in the American southwest. By 1881 the population reached 10,000 but large-scale mining had finished by 1890 and the number of inhabitants gradually diminished. The city was county seat from 1881 to 1929. The present population is around 1500 and much of its industry is centred around tourism.

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  The gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881 was one of the most famous events to take place in Tombstone; and the truth of what happened on that day is still a matter for argument.

  The fight, part of a Cochise County power struggle, featured the McLowery group and the Clanton clan, who practised cattle rustling as a sideline, on one side and the U.S. Marshall, Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holiday, a notorious gunfighter on the other.

  After the shoot-out three men from the Clanton clan were dead and two Earp brothers were injured.

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  The Courthouse was completed in 1882 at a cost of over $40,000.  It became the symbol of law and order in the wild times of Tombstone's early years.

  In addition to the courtroom the building housed various municipal offices such as the sheriff and treasury departments and the board of supervisors. The jail was under the courtroom, and the gallows in the courtyard.

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  A series of colourful people held public office, including John Slaughter, a local cattleman from Douglas and former Texas Ranger. As sheriff in 1886, he virtually cleared the county of outlaws, although somewhat unconventionally. During Tombstone's peak period the town, with its large variety of saloons and gambling halls, was a wild place.

  In 1883, the Cochise County Courthouse was built in Tombstone. The courthouse represented law and order and included the offices of sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and board of supervisors. The cost of the courthouse was nearly $45,000.

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  Boothill Graveyard was founded in 1878 on a hill in the north-west outskirts of the city and was the burial ground for Tombstone's early pioneers.

  The name Boothill relates to the fact that many of the cemetery's clients died suddenly and with their boots on! The graveyard with around 250 occupants was closed in 1884. Many of the original markers deteriorated over the years but research has enabled the headstones to be replaced very close to, if not directly over, their original positions.

  It was customary for unidentified bodies to be displayed on a slab in the undertaker's window just in case passers-by might recognise the dead person. In spite of this there are still many graves simply labelled, 'unknown'.

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