O.K. Corral (building)
Tombstone Historic District
Allen Street frontage
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|NRHP Reference #||66000171|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHLD||July 4, 1961|
The O.K. Corral (Old Kindersley) was a livery and horse corral from 1879 to about 1888 in the mining boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, in the southwestern United States near the border with Mexico.
Despite its famous association with the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the historic gunfight did not take place within or next to the corral on Allen Street, but in a narrow lot on Fremont Street, six doors west of the rear entrance to the corral. The lot was between Harwood's home and C. S. Fly's 12-room boarding house and photography studio.
The 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral made the shootout famous and the public was incorrectly led to believe it was the actual location of the altercation. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the corral is currently marketed and advertised as the location of the shootout, and visitors can pay to see a reenactment of the gunfight. The corral is now part of the Tombstone Historic District.
At the time of the gunfight on October 26, 1881, the O.K. Corral and Livery was one of seven liveries and corrals in the city of about 5,300 residents, excluding Chinese and children. The others included the Dexter Livery (owned by John Dunbar and Johnny Behan), Pioneer Livery, Tombstone Livery, West End Corral, P.W. Smith Corral, C.N. Thomas West End Corral, and the Fashion Stables,
The O.K. Corral was owned at the time by “Honest John” Montgomery and Edward Monroe Benson. Most residents of the town did not own a horse; when they needed to go out of town, they rented a horse from one of the liveries or corrals. The corral and livery also cared for transient stock, and provided buggies, carriages, and wagons with teams of horses. As of 1886, they also rented an 11-passenger excursion coach.
The corral and buildings were completely destroyed by a fire that burned almost all of the western business district on May 25, 1882. The rebuilt corral began to gain attention from the American public in 1931, when author Stuart Lake published an initially well-received biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, two years after Earp's death. Published during the Great Depression, the book captured American imaginations. It was also the basis for the 1946 film, My Darling Clementine, by director John Ford. After the film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was released in 1957, the shootout became known by that name and the corral became wrongly fixed in the public's consciousness as the location of the shoot out.
According to testimony after the shootout, the outlaw Cowboys who fought the Earps and Doc Holliday went from Dexter's Livery Stable, where they had left their horses, to Spangenberg's gun shop on Fourth Street.:181:185 Wyatt Earp saw them inside and later said he thought they were filling their cartridge belts with bullets. The Cowboys then walked over to the O.K. Corral where witnesses overheard them threatening to kill the Earps. Citizens reported the threats and the armed Cowboys' movements to Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp.
On April 19, 1881, the city had passed ordinance #9 requiring anyone carrying a bowie knife, dirk, pistol or rifle to deposit their weapons at a livery or saloon soon after entering town. The ordinance was the legal basis for City Marshall Virgil Earp's decision to confront the Cowboys that resulted in the shoot out.
The Earps and Doc Holliday walked west on Fremont Street, looking for the Cowboys. After passing the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral, they found the Cowboys gathered in a narrow 15–20 feet (4.6–6.1 m) wide lot and adjacent to C. S. Fly's 12-room boarding house and photography studio at 312 Fremont Street.:4 The gun fight took place within the narrow lot and on Fremont Street.
Investors from Detroit, Michigan, led by attorney Harold O. Love, bought the O.K. Corral, along with The Tombstone Epitaph, the Crystal Palace Hotel, and Schieffelin Hall in 1964. The corral in Tombstone today is inaccurately advertised and marketed as the location of the actual gunfight. Its association with the legendary gunfight attracts many visitors to the city. They can pay to view a reenactment of the gunfight three times daily on the site of the historic corral. The lot in which most of the gun fight actually occurred is now maintained as part of a living history museum. Fremont Street, currently Arizona Highway 80, where portions of the gunfight actually took place, is open to the public.
In 2004, the town's focus on tourism lead the National Park Service (NPS) to threaten to remove its designation as a National Historic Landmark District, a status it earned in 1961 as "one of the best preserved specimens of the rugged frontier town of the 1870s and '80s." Since this time, however, the community has worked closely with the NPS to develop and implement a new more appropriate stewardship program.
Although the historical corral wasn't the actual site of the famous gunfight, its association with the legendary gunfight largely contributed to the creation of the historic district and its placement on the National Register. Another O.K. Corral is known to have existed in Globe, Arizona Territory. The O.K. Corral and Feed Stable was opened before November 8, 1879.
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- Bell, Bob Bose. True West magazine.