The Birdcage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona –
When travelling to Tombstone in Arizona you should not miss the famous Birdcage Theater. It was widely known throughout the Western Frontier. When the owner Hutchinson opened its doors on Dec 24th 1881 it started as a twenty four hours/seven days a week saloon/gambling and theater parlor that soon turned into a legend.
Rumors have it, that the soiled doves used it as their favorite playground and served not only drinks but also other pleasures to the gents in the upstairs boxes overlooking the stage area. Three additional cribs in the basement speak a clear language of the sinful past of the Birdcage.
The longest poker game ever was held in that very basement by the way also attended by Doc Holliday at certain times. The game took over 8 years 5 months and 3 days and was never interrupted until the Birdcage closed in 1889. Even the wood floor could not be finished under the table as nobody wanted to interrupt the game for carpenter work.
120 bullet holes and talk about 26 people being killed in the theater during its heydays speak of the rough past of a mining boomtown.
Nowadays the Birdcage is one of the most astonishing museums found in the Southwest. Many items displayed give the visitor a clear view of life and hardship of Tombstone’s past and its red-light district. One can see weapons, household items, doctor´s equipment, an automatic music piano and much more. The Black Moriah funeral hearse has been the last ride of almost all the dead in Tombstone, except for six people. Its value historically as well as for the gold and silver trimmings runs around two million dollars nowadays.
These days the Birdcage offers spirit tours as well and that for a good reason. Many have witnessed paranormal activities or were even able to take pictures of it. During the years it was closed citizens would still hear gambling and piano music sounds during many nights. Famous ghost hunting TV productions have shot series of investigations at the Birdcage and occasionally people witness orbs, weird lights, piano playing sounds, traces of perfumes and women laughing, transparent shadows and so on even when the place is closed for the day.
For me the Birdcage remains one of the most inspiring places to explore as a Western Writer and even after countless visits I never grow tired of it. It is a must see during each Tombstone trip.
Admission fee at present is:
Family Pack: $34
Seniors 60+: $11
Children 8 to 18: $10
Ghost Tours: $20