Dummies at the ready in the O.K. Corral shootout.

O.K. Corral

Field review by the editors.

Tombstone, Arizona

Fans of older Western movies may be unaware that the O.K. Corral is not an open-air, split-rail-fenced enclosure way out in the sagebrush. It's a small, enclosed yard in the heart of downtown Tombstone, walled-in by surrounding buildings and sealed from prying eyes (and nonpaying customers) by a high fence.

The O.K. Corral achieved fame-by-proximity on October 26, 1881, when the feuding Earps and Clantons, and a few of their supporters, planned to meet there (but didn't) and then faced off in an alley a half-block away. A close-quarter gunfight erupted and spilled out onto a neighboring street.

It lasted maybe 30 seconds. Two McLaurys and a Clanton were killed, a couple of the Earps and Doc Holliday were injured. Despite the close quarters and firepower, four of the ten antagonists emerged without a scratch. No shots were fired at the O.K. Corral.

Modern-day tourists pay their admission at the Corral, then wind their way back around several corners to the actual site of the gun battle. Every day at two in the afternoon, a local group reenacts the fight. Dummies are on duty the rest of the time, and we found them to be just as entertaining.

O.K. Corral dummy re-enactment.

The dummies once stood in the center of what most people assume is the Corral (but isn't), open to visitor inspection and photo posing, encouraging people to "Walk Where They Fell." Since 2006, however, they've been compressed into a corner behind an iron fence, where the historical alley used to be. You lose something in this new arrangement, but you gain something too, as these new dummies have motion-enabled arms and heads.

Dang! Where did my shooting hand go?

Press a button, and a booming voice over a hidden loudspeaker tells the story of the gunfight. Disembodied voices of the various Earps and Clantons enliven the narrative, and the heads on the dummies slowly waggle when their character speaks on the loudspeaker. When the gunfight erupts, the arms of some of the dummies pop up, pointing their six-shooters. Bullets echo, actors' voices yell and groan, but the mannequins stand frozen. No smoke, no flashes. When it's over, the arms slowly lower back to the dummies' sides.

The wild-and-woolly gunfight at the O.K. Corral, recreated with bare-minimum animated dummies. We loved it.

O.K. Corral

308 E. Allen St., Tombstone, AZ
I-10 exits 303, 304, or 306, then south on Hwy 80 for 23 miles. One block to the right, on Allen St., between Third and Fourth, north side.
Daily 9 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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October 26, 2020

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