Tombstone’s Treasure: Silver Mines and Golden Saloons

by Sherry Monahan, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 2007, $16.95.

 Tombstone aficionado Sherry Monahan offers a different look at the Town Too Tough To Die, providing only a glimpse of the O.K. Corral, Earps and Clantons, while focusing on silver mines and saloons. Concentrating on the town’s glory years between 1877 and 1887 (and telling the story chronologically), Monahan reveals a Tombstone of telephones and ice cream parlors, of Claret sangaree and Havana cigars, of baseball games and a swimming pool. This was a town where a newspaper praised the cream soda at one watering hole. It was a town with gaslights by the end of 1883, a town where “public enemy number one” was, well, dust. In 1884 merchants and citizens “urged the city council to buy water that was pumped out from the mines and sprinkle the streets,”

Not that this book is revisionist history. There were more than 50 saloons in town by the summer of 1881, so many, Monahan writes, “it’s no wonder there was a problem with too many beer barrels lying in the streets….” And cockfights were about as popular as faro, monte, poker and other games of chance. Tombstone’s Treasure offers a mother lode of insight and information for everybody.

 

Originally published in the October 2007 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here