The Story Of What Really Happened During The Shootout At The O.K. Corral

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Image: American Experience

It’s the afternoon of October 26, 1881, and menace hangs heavy in the air. Two groups of men – gunslingers and outlaws – are facing off against each other in a vacant lot in Tombstone, Arizona, and things are about to turn ugly. Suddenly, shots ring out, and less than a minute later, three men lie dead in the dust. The day would go down in history as one of the most infamous of the Wild West era. This is the story of what really happened before, during and after the shootout at the O.K. Corral.

Image: Grombo

We’ll return later to just who those two groups of men were and why they were sworn enemies. But first let’s learn a little bit about the venue of their clash: Tombstone. The town lies in the south of Arizona, some 26 miles from the Mexican border as the crow flies.

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Image: Terryballard

Today, the town has a population of some 1,300, and its main source of income centers around the tourism generated by the fact that it hosted the notorious O.K. Corral shootout almost 140 years ago. As many as 450,000 visitors travel to the iconic destination each year, in fact. Tombstone’s second claim to fame, meanwhile, is that it is home to the largest rose bush in the world.

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