Destination: Southern Arizona
Book: Historic Walking Guides: Tombstone & Bisbee Arizona (NEW 2010) by Jane Eppinga
Curious staffers of other Congressmen go into the office of an Arizona Congressman, look at the map, and point with wonder at Tombstone. “You mean that’s a real place?”
Yep! Even though Tombstone in some ways lives on as a mythical Western town, best known for Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, it is still “The Town Too Tough to Die” and one of the prime tourist attractions in the state. Jane Eppinga, a prolific writer about Arizona history, says that when she signs her travel books in Tombstone, she meets travelers from Romania, Ireland, Hungary, Canada, and lots and lots of Germans and Brits.
Eppinga is a meticulous researcher who checks and double checks every fact in her books–eight in print and three coming soon. So I was happy to pull her away from her keyboard long enough to answer a few questions about her career and her latest book, Tombstone & Bisbee Historic Walking Guides .
A Traveler’s Library: How did your interest in writing about historic Arizona get started?
Jane Eppinga: About thirty years ago, I started writing for the Arizona Capitol Times, [a newspaper published in Phoenix about state government.].. I was in the [Arizona] Historical Society… They wanted a history column, and asked the Historical Society for recommendations. They recommended me. And then my books came along, and that’s how I got started.
ATL: What was the first book?
JE: The first book that I ever did was Henry Ossian Flipper, the first West Point black graduate. Flipper was a resident of Nogales. That was 1995.
ATL: Why is a British publisher publishing a book about two small towns in Arizona?
J. E.:The Brits and the Germans are crazy about Tombstone. The editor/publisher of DestinWorld has been to Tombstone and they absolutely love that place. When they hold the Rendezvous of Gunfighters in early September, whole groups come from Great Britain.
ATL: Did you personally go to all the places in the book?
JE: I have over the years. I did not do the 1000-Step Walk in Bisbee. [Bisbee is an old mining town built on steep hills.]… it is usually in October.
ATL: What do you recommend as “don’t miss” places in each town?
Tombstone: They’ve got to go to a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and be aware that it is not the actual O. K. Corral where the gunfight took place. After that, I would say, it is that marvelous Court House. It is open, and it is a State Park. It is just a jewel of Victorian architecture.
Bisbee: Stop at the Mining Museum. It is a auxiliary of the Smithsonian. The second thing I would do there is take the underground mine tour. Led by guys who worked in the mines when the underground mining was going on. They know what they are talking about.
ATL: What books about the area do you recommend for a traveler’s library?
- Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller
- And Die in the West:The Story of the O.K. Corral Gunfight by Paula Marks
- Tombstone, Arizona ‘Too Tough To die’ :The rise and Fall and Resurrection of a Silver Camp: 1878 to 1990 by Lynn Bailey
- Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton
The Historic Walking Guides: Tombstone and Bisbee lays out nine walks, plus travel information. If you are not traveling, but want to learn about the history of gunfighters and miners in the Southwest, this is a good book for a traveler’s library.
Thanks, Jane. And congratulations for your national award on your book, They Made Their Mark, about women geographers. Good luck with your latest project, a guide to ALL the museums in Arizona and your blog about museums.
The photo of the book cover and of the author are courtesy of Jane Eppinga. The Tombstone photograph is by Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved. If you click on the book titles and go to Amazon and then BUY any book or item they sell, I will make a few cents.
Where would you like to visit in the Southwest? LAST DAY to leave me a note telling me why YOU should get the t-shirt that says “I guess there will never be enough books.”