Research Trip to Tombstone

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a sequel to my novel Owl Dance tentatively titled Wolf Posse. In the first novel, the Russians invade the United States in 1877. The second novel picks up where the first novel leaves off and explores the ramifications of the invasion.

One of the things that happens in Wolf Posse is that the characters of Professor Maravilla and Larissa Crimson explore a mystery that leads them to the mining camp that would eventually become Tombstone, Arizona. Of course, Tombstone is infamous as the site of the gunfight at the OK Corral. However, savvy readers will realize the gunfight happened in 1881 and my novel is set four years earlier. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of interesting history that happened in Tombstone before the gunfight that I thought was worth exploring.

In 1877, Ed Shieffelin was prospecting for silver in an area called Goose Flats. Soldiers at Fort Huachuca told him that because of the terrible conditions and the Apaches in the area, all he’d ever find would be his Tombstone. Of course, when he found silver, that became the name of the mining camp. Because I wanted to know more about the silver mining in the area, I took a tour of the Good Enough Mine in Tombstone. Here’s a photo of my daughters by the entrance.

As my characters of Professor Maravilla and Larissa Crimson get to know Ed Shieffelin, they also get to know a mining engineer he worked with named Richard Gird. I found some good information in Tombstone about Gird. I also discovered that he had a house outside of Tombstone in the ghost town of Millville. It was a bit of a hike, but I made it out to see Gird’s house along with the remains of the mill where Tombstone’s silver was processed. Here’s the foundation of Gird’s house as it appears today:

One other site that I tentatively plan to include in the novel is the Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate. It’s one of the few surviving Spanish fortresses from the 18th century. Admittedly all that’s there now are a few walls and foundations, but still, I found it very informative to visit the site and see where it was located relative to the San Pedro River. Also, apparently enough of it was still surviving in 1878 that the U.S. Army briefly occupied the site.

When writing about a real location, there’s nothing like visiting that site so that you can understand what things look like and how a person might get from one place to another. Also, I think there’s a lot to be said for looking at a famous place like Tombstone and looking at those periods of time that have been neglected to see what history you might uncover. Tombstone has a lot of fun tourist attractions in town that are well worth visiting, but I highly recommend looking up the Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate and Millville and hiking the trails if you visit. Just remember to bring along plenty of water, sunscreen, and bug repellant! The trails are well maintained and there are lots of great signs with more information.

In the meantime, if you want to read Owl Dance so that you’re ready when Wolf Posse comes out, you can get more information, find out where to order, and read a sample chapter at: davidleesummers.com/books.html#owldance

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4 comments on “Research Trip to Tombstone

  1. Sandi says:

    I love Tombstone! I miss the desert dreadfully. lol Looks like a terrific research trip. ūüôā

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