I just added a Wikipedia article for this gunfight, as I was surprised there was no mention of it. Does anyone know why this gunfight seems to be so little-known? From what I've gathered so far, it had similar causes as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (tensions over cattle rustling, big cattle barons vs. smaller ranches, political wrangling between factions) and ended up killing more people than its more famous 'cousin'. Heck, it even has a love triangle. One would think it would be up there with the best-known gunfights.
Is it maybe because the town of Tascosa no longer exists?
Is it perhaps because in this case there were no lawmen involved?
Is it simply that its name is not catchy?
Is it just because none of the participants wrote a book about it and no one made movies based on it?
I can't figure it out. Heck, with all the romance and dirty politics involved, one would think Hollywood would be all over this one.
The "classic" gunfights that we all know are also part of Western Lore. They have been known for a century and written about in the old dime novels. The gunfight at the OK Corral, the Big Killing in Lincoln, John W. Harden being shot in the back and even Garrett in the back as duty called. These events have a long history.
The Tascosa fight is not well known and so there are no legends about it. I had never heard of it until I bought Nolan's book in the subject a few years ago.
No had anyone else.
According to what I've read, until the 1940s, the Tascosa fight was better-known than the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Wyatt Earp was generally unknown until Stuart Lake's book was published...I think in 1931. Nor was the Kid known until Burn's book, which was published, as I recall, in 1926.
While it is neither here nor there, I had not heard of the Tascosa fight until a few years ago.
In my neck of the woods, Western Kansas, the most talked about gunfight was the battle in Coffeeville after the bank robbery.
There is a whole chapter on the fight in the book MaverickTown, the story of old Tascosa, by John L McCarty. Its a great read and a good addition to any western collection
There are many gunfights that don't get the attention they deserve. However, just having the name "The Gunfight at the OK Corral" sounds like the epitome of the Old West- having both "Gunfight" and Corral" in the name... plus it was in the city of Tombstone. So many great names in a single event.
What I would like to find out about Tascosa, is a city layout. I know just about the entire town no longer exists... but it would be cool to know the exact locations of some of the buildings that used to be there.
Yeah, 'The Big Fight' was okay when it was one of the best-known gunfights, but these days, not so much. 'Tascosa Gunfight' doesn't quite have the same ring as 'The Gunfight at the OK Corral' either. I think maybe if they called it 'The Gunfight at the Jenkins Saloon', that might be better.
Also, prior to 1940, Tascosa was a big name when it came to towns that conjured up the Old West. These days it's almost completely forgotten, but in the old days, 'Tascosa' was one of THE big western outlaw towns, home to folks like Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid and Temple Houston.
As for the city layout, I made a map on Google Maps that shows the town and the major places involved in the fight. It's here:
The actual gunfight took place in what is now a parking lot.
Wow Ian- that was exactly what I was looking for! Now if someone can go around a photograph those spots.... ;)
I love finding the original locations of places that have been gone for a long time. It's all about the mystery, finding clues, and standing there knowing what once stood there. There are so many unmarked historical sites out there that are begging to be found once again.
If you dont have the book i mentioned it may be worth buying it as it does have some maps in it that may help.
What was originally Tascosa is now the site of Cal Farley's Boys' Ranch. Texas Tech press has a book written by a former sheriff there. He was there when the town was established. One of the things he talked abt in the book was a barkeep who kept a sawed-off muzzle-loading shotgun he insists was loaded with 'a teacup full of powder.' Since I know how much black powder smokes, I figure if he let that thing off on a still day it would be abt half an hour before you could see thru the smoke. Of course, there aren't many still days in the Texas panhandle.
I read your Wikipedia article on the subject. The story does seem to have many elements that would seem to make for a good western movie. If Pat Garrett had stuck around and been involved, his name would surely have boosted the appeal of the tale. If there were more follow-up action like the assasinations and vendetta ride in the case of the OK Corral, that would also increase interest. In your article, perhaps you should have given more information about the trial, and why the surviving participants were found not guilty. Changing the name of the incident from "The Big Fight" to "The Shootout at Tascosa" or "The Shootout at Tascosa, Texas" might help, too.