Tombstone Silver

Earp Mining Claim

Everyone knows about the Earps' gunfights, but few know about the mine they owned.


At one time, there were five Earp brothers living in Tombstone: James, Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan, and Warren. The stories about the gunfights and other activities are well known, but what is not common knowledge is that Wyatt persuaded his brothers to invest in several mining properties here in Tombstone. In fact, Wyatt had hoped to make a lot of money on mining and his other activities were often no more than ways of getting by until his mines started paying off.

On December 6, 1879, after first arriving in town, James, Virgil, and Wyatt claimed the "First North Extension of the Mountain Maid Mine." That was roughly 17 acres as indicated on the following map.

Earp Mining Claim

They filed a patent for the claim on October 21, 1881, and that patent was granted November 15, 1882. During that time, they began developing the "Earps' Addition" to the town site and started selling lots in this area. From 1879 until 1881, Wyatt and his brothers engaged in various real estate and mining activities. For example, in 1880, they sold a small piece of property west of town for $6000.

Starting in 1881, the Earps' lives were overtaken by events in Cochise County. Eventually, Morgan was killed at the Campbell & Hatch Billiard Parlor on March 18, 1882 and all the Earps left the area shortly afterward. Their Mountain Maid claim was not sold or otherwise resolved during Wyatt’s lifetime and to this day there is an occasional newspaper article about someone who has plans to renew that claim as a tourist destination.


The Earps' mining claim was large and the following map is centered on the "Wyatt House and Gallery," near the east edge of the claim. The Goodenough Historic Trolley Tour stops at the Wyatt Earp house where I briefly mention the mining claim.