Video: animatronic recreation of the Gunfight at the OK Corral

I’ve been in a Wild West mood lately. I used to live in Tucson, Arizona, and loved the tales of gunfights, gold strikes, and crooked gamblers. I’ve been rediscovering some of that lately and my thoughts turned to Tombstone, the West’s quintessential tough town. It was here that the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday faced off against the notorious Cowboys and shot them to pieces just outside the OK Corral.

“Cowboy” was a derogative term in that time and place, reserved for rustlers, brawlers, and other ne’er-do-wells. Honest people who handled cattle were called cattlemen, range men, or by the Spanish term vaqueros. Most were Mexican or black, a fact Hollywood has seen fit to forget. The Cowboy gang that operated near Tombstone loved to steal cattle, shoot up saloons, and do all that other stuff from which legends are made. Americans love their bad guys.

They love cheesy tourist attractions too. I mean, how couldn’t you love an animatronic recreation of the Gunfight at the OK Corral? It takes place all day, every day in Tombstone. I challenge you to watch this video without smiling. Yes, it’s hokey, yes, it a bit embarrassing, but damn is it entertaining! A much less hokey live show is performed in Tombstone every day of the week at 2pm.

Want more Arizona cheesiness? Have you seen… The Thing?

Petrified Forest National Park expands by 26,000 acres

Petrified Forest National Park
The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona just got bigger to the tune of 26,000 acres.

After years of negotiation, the National Park Service bought the land from a ranching family, the Daily Democrat reports. This land had been enveloped by the park when it expanded from 93,500 acres to 218,500 acres in 2004.

The park is famous for its colorful petrified trees scattered across the landscape. The scenery is equally colorful, with rugged hills striated with differently hued stone.

Since the new acquisition is remote ranching land closed to visitors, it should prove a treasure trove to archaeologists and paleontologists. Traces of prehistoric Native Americans, such as arrowheads and petroglyphs (rock art) are common finds in the park, and many dinosaur bones have also been found. Scientists get first dibs on the area, so it will be at least a few years before it opens to the public.

[Photo courtesy the Petrified Forest Ranger, who has an amazing photostream on flickr]