Well almost, actually it was 1:52 pm.

Today marks the 126th anniversary of the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral” in Tombstone Arizona—then called the Arizona Territory.


Here are some quick trivia facts about Wyatt Earp and the shootout at the OK Corral:

Wyatt Earp was first and foremost a simple business man who lived to be 81 and died in Los Angels in 1929. (I happen to own a copy of his death certificate.)

Wyatt Earp was never a U.S. Marshall

The “Shoot-out at the OK Corral” was started by an argument over some stolen mules?

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday stood trial for their part in the shooting which lasted a month—they were both acquitted.

Wyatt Earp’s favorite city was San Francisco until he stood accused of throwing a prize fight in which he was asked to referee—it made all the papers.

  • Wyatt Earp owned a mine outside L.A. near what is now Earp, CA. which he worked the rest of his life in the dessert
  • Wyatt Earp loved ice cream, drove a car, and helped consult on some of the earliest films about the Wild West in the 1920’s and became friends with actors like Tom Mix
  • The debate about who were good and bad guys in the famous shootout confrontation continues to this day.
  • Wyatt Earp was deputized by his brother Vrigil Earp so that he could legally carry a gun on the streets of Tombstone that day.
  • The Clantons practiced religioulsy with their six-shotters at their ranch yet as with most peopple of the day, couldn’t hit much when under pressure.

Wyatt Earp was cremated and buried in the Jewish cemetery in Colma California named Hills of Eternity—I took the contemporary photo which circulates on the web to this day. Many movies have been made about this shoot-out (near the OK Corral) and glorified it in a way that only Hollywood could do. Unfortunately, the facts have become so distorted that the real story has become lost. As in many cases, the truth is more interesting than fiction. In 1993 the movie Tombstone with Kurt Russell as Wyatt was released and it helped shed some light on who Wyatt Earp really was—a business man, not gunfighter. Later Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp was also released further gaining interest in Wyatt’s story. Which movie is best? I believe Tombstone was more realistic. Although they used composite characters and rearranged event timelines as Hollywood will do, their costumes and many of the lines in the movie were from court transcripts and newspaper accounts after the shooting. The 1990’s movies on Wyatt Earp inspired me to find out more about what really happened.

Those movies led me to read “And Die in the West” by Paula Mitchell Marks. It chronicles the political behind the scenes details of what led upon to the famous gunfight in Tombstone. But it goes much deeper than that and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand more about life in the frontier west. From there I read every book I could get my hands on including a grossly exaggerated version of Wyatt’s life titled “Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshall” written by Stuart Lake and released shortly after Wyatt’s death. I eventually traveled to Tombstone and met with several prominent authors who toured me around the back country retracing the steps of the Earp and Clanton clans. To find out more visit Gary McLelland’s Wyatt Earp web page and relive the Wild West as it really was.

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