Thursday, August 18, 2011

When Bad Photos Are Good, Part I

August 18, 2011

Working this morning on another study of "Deep In The Lot":

Work in progress: "Deep In The Lot"

This is based on a photograph of the actual site of the gunfight, in the side yard of Fly's Boarding House.

When Bad Photos Are Good
In the mid-1990s, historian Gary McClelland was looking at Fly photos and he suddenly realized this non-descript, fuzzy photo of a wood-laden donkey was actually a photo of the site of the most famous gunfight in Old West history. What tipped Gary off to its location is the Episcopal Church, at left, which is just up the block from the gunfight site and totally nails the location. So, that is Fly's Boarding House on the right, and Fly evidently stepped outside his studio (off camera, at right) and took this photo. We can see the back of the Harwood house (to the left of the donkey) which is where the cowboys were standing, along the east side, when the fight began. We also can see part of Addie Bourland's shop directly across the street from Fly's. She was a major witness to the fight). A woman stands next to, what appears to be a wagon, at far left.

Now what is amazing is that many people had seen this photo and nobody recognized the significance of it. Someone told me you could buy it for $100 until Gary spotted the location (the price is rumored to be $40K today). It now belongs to Steve Elliott of Tombstone and you can see the original in his museum, The Tombstone Western Heritage Museum on Fremont Street, about three blocks east of the site in the photo. Fitting, no?

"While it's been said a picture is worth a thousand words, the right picture is worth whatever a crazy Old West lunatic will pay."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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