Historic Site of Famed

Corral May Not Be O.K.

The silver-mining community of Tombstone, Ariz., earned its place in American history when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday faced down a band of outlaws in the 1881 shootout at the O.K. Corral. Generations of Wild West buffs have traveled miles to pay homage to "the town too tough to die."

But federal officials are now weighing whether to yank its designation as a National Historic Landmark. Dozens of sites across the country are on the "threatened" list, most because of decay or encroaching development.

Tombstone's problem? It's getting too tacky.

Some historic buildings have been painted in brash modern shades like chartreuse or purple, while newer ones have been plastered with fake brick or Spanish tile and bogus 1880s "founded" dates -- a "Disneyland" effect, one local innkeeper complained to the Arizona Republic.

Town officials are promising to step up enforcement of historic codes to maintain Tombstone's credibility as a historic site. But some locals say it is not so simple.

"We are a living, breathing town," saloon owner Susan Wallace said. "Each one of these businesses is owned by a different group of people who have different ideas of what their business should look like."

-- Amy Argetsinger

Charles Smith of Hampton, Va., looks upon Tombstone, Ariz., which federal park officials say could lose historic status because of "inappropriate alterations."