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10 Boom Towns that Went Bust


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Tombstone, Ariz.
Tombstone, Ariz., was founded as a mining town but went down in history as the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Tombstone, Ariz., was founded as a mining town but went down in history as the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
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Gold wasn't the only shiny rock to bring hopeful miners west. Tombstone, Ariz., was founded on the discovery of silver.

Ed Schieffelin, a young prospector, came to the area in 1877 looking to strike it rich. As the story goes, Schieffelin was told the only rock he'd find in the desert was his own tombstone. He proved his detractors wrong.

Schieffelin discovered silver at his mining claim, "Tombstone," and sparked a rush drawing thousands. A town of the same name was founded in 1879, along with the discovery of some gold as well.

Like Bodie, Calif., Tombstone's wealth drew both the adventurous and unscrupulous. The Clanton gang was among the latter, and tensions between Ike Clanton and the Earp family led to a shootout on Oct. 26, 1881. The iconic gunfight at the O.K. Corral put Tombstone on the map in ways silver couldn't -- a good thing, because in the early 1900s, underground water flooded the silver mines and rendered them mostly useless.

Though some mining continued for manganese and lead in the early 20th century, the town was mostly forgotten after World War II.

In recent years, however, an interest in recapturing the Wild West has brought an increase in visitors to Tombstone, which continues to thrive on tourism.

But as prospectors know, all that glitters is not gold -- or silver. In fact, the next boom town to go bust was built on "black gold."


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