Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The Bird Cage Theatre was the most famous honky-tonk in America between 1881 and 1889 and was open 24 hours a day during this time. It was the scene of 16 gunfights and there are 140 bullett holes that riddle the walls and ceiling. No wonder the New York Times referred to it in 1882 as the wildest, wickedest night spot in the west. No respectable lady would have ever entered the Bird Cage or even walk down the same side of the street. The Bird Cage was sealed and boarded up for 50 years with all its fixtures and furnishings intact and is in its original state.

This painting is of Fatima, one of the entertainers at the Bird Cage who later went to Europe as her performances were considered too provocative. She changed her name to "Little Eygpt" and became very famous. This painting has was a gift from Fatima and has hung in the same location since 1882. The painting is 9 ft in height and has the scars of 6 bullet holes and a knife cut.
This custom-made cherrywood bar is flanked by a dumb waiter on the right that sent drinks upstairs to the ladies of the night and their customers. This bar and mirror were shipped around the Horn of South America to San Fransico by boat and carried to Tombstone by muletrain. Amazing that the mirror was intact and that this mirror returned the reflections of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Johnny Ringo.
The Bird Cage was named for the 14 bird cage crib compartments that are suspended from the ceiling, overhanging the gambling casino and dance hall, where ladies of the night plied their trade. $25 dollars a night would buy a gentleman a bottle of whiskey and a lady for the night.
The refrain "she's only a bird in a gilded cage" became a popular song. These bird cages remain today with their original red velvet drapes and trimmings.
This table is where Doc Holliday played and dealt Faro over 118 years ago.
Basket used by the saloon girls to carry up bottles to customers.

The large hand-carved grand piano of solid rosewood is still in the orchestra pit where it played music with a 5 piece band. Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo had their famous duel nearby.
The handpainted stage with its original stage curtain retains its faded luster of nightly performances of CanCan dancers, risque perormances and national headliners such as Eddie Foy and opera tenor Caruso.
This box was occupied by "Russian Bill" every evening for 2 years at a cost of $25/night. He was not an outlaw but wanted to appear tough so he stole a horse for which he was hanged.

The "Black Moriah" is the original Boothill hearse, trimmed in 24K gold and sterling silver, it took all but six bodies to Boot Hill. The original coffin
to the right of the hearse was used in the Tombstone movie.
This bordello room was used by Sarah Josephine Marcus "Sadie Joe" where she had many romantic liaisons with her future husband Wyatt Earp while she was engaged to the Sheriff who frowned upon her working as a prostitute. Wyatt was living nearby in a covered wagon with his common-law wife Mattie. When Wyatt left her for Sadie Jo, Mattie ended up being a prostitute in Prescott Az and commiting suicide.
This is Sadie Jo's business license for "House of Ill Fame" which was signed by Wyatt Earp who was Deputy Marshall at the time.
The longest single poker game in history was played in the basement gaming area. Eight years and four months of one continuous poker game! It was someone's job to go and get the next person on the list to play when someone left the game. This poker table still stands as it was left, with its chairs on the dirt floor.
We really enjoyed seeing this authentic building and all of its original features.
Tombstone was definite a highlight of our trip and Mike bought a replica gun and holster which will hang in our pool table room as a great momento of our visit.


  1. Wouldn'da killed them to dust the place...Rose

  2. Hi. I am a fan of your blog.
    Thank you for sharing wonderful pictures and diary always. I went to Tombstone almost 13 years ago... I felt I was in the movie... :)

  3. Yes, the Birdcage is very dusty but how often do you get to see authentic settings. Maybe I should stop dusting my house in case it becomes a heritage site.

  4. Thank you North, we have been having a great trip and wanted to journal all the wonderful places we have been.