Some people get so excited about visiting the site of the original shootout at the OK Corral that they forget what it was silver that drew so many wild and adventurous characters to Tombstone. Yet, the silver mines of this town were, in their own right, the stuff of legend. The town itself is named after the first silver mine, Tombstone.
Ed Schieffelin was a member of a scouting party against the Chiricahua Apaches when he discovered silver outside of Camp Huachuca in 1877. In his spare time with the scouting party, he would trek out looking for “rocks.” His compatriot’s warnings that “the only stone you will find out there will be your tombstone” has gone down in history as the inspiration for the name of his first mine, Tombstone, and the town that developed around it. The town’s population had expanded to a number between 15,000 and 20,000 by the mid 1880s. Thirty-nine millions dollars worth of silver and gold were extracted from Tombstone’s mines since the first discovery until the 1930’s. Today, the town has a year round population of 1,500 but visitors flood in to watch reenactments of the infamous shootout and count the bullet holes in the Bird Cage Theater. While tourists certainly should enjoy the period costumes and wild west dirt streets, they shouldn’t miss out on a tour of the Good Enough Mine.
The name, like so many mine names before, is profoundly misleading. It’s pseudonym of “The Million Dollar Stope” was a more accurate summary of the incredibly rich vein of ore that was mined from the Good Enough. Ore from the mine was assayed at several thousand of dollars to the ton. The mine was discovered by Ed Schieffelin in 1878. By 1879, ninety men worked the mine in conjunction with a neighboring claim. While a partial cave in closed the mine in 1907, it is now open for visitors.
Our visit included the most exuberant tour guide we have yet encountered and was well worth climbing the stairs in and out of the mine. Given that the miners excavated little more than was necessary to extract silver ore, the towering ceilings and wide rooms that the tour winds through are testament to the massive veins of silver and gold that were encountered in Good Enough. While we do not tend to use ‘beautiful’ to describe a mine, the sculpted rock, aided by well placed lighting, creates one of the most dramatic mines that we have had the pleasure of exploring. We opted for the standard walking tour but there are also longer, more extensive tours available for the hardcore spelunker. Reservations and extra equipment are needed for advanced tours.