Tombstone, renowned for its gunfights, gambling halls, brothels and bars, was a silver mining town of great wealth during the decade known as “The Roarin’ ’80s” in the 19th century.
Although small mines existed in 1857 in what would later become known as the Tombstone district, it wasn’t until 20 years later that prospector Edward L. Schieffelin discovered the rich silver deposits that attracted a mass migration of miners to the area.
The future town’s name was taken from an encounter between Schieffelin and soldiers from Fort Huachuca, who warned the prospector that all he would find in the area would be his tombstone.
By 1881, due to an influx of miners and businesses, Tombstone’s population reached 10,000, making it Arizona’s largest town. That prompted a movement to establish a separate county that was carved out of eastern Pima County and christened Cochise County after the Apache chief Cochise.
Naturally, Tombstone was the county seat — until it was moved to Bisbee by Cochise County voters in 1929. Lack of local water needed to process the high-grade silver-lead ores led to the establishment of towns including Charleston, Contention City and Fairbank along the San Pedro River.