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Doc Holliday: A Grave with a View

June 7th, 1879. A former Army scout came into a small saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He wanted his girlfriend to quit her job as a saloon girl. When she refused, he went out into the street to shoot up the town. The saloonkeeper let him fire off a couple of shots before he calmly stepped outside and dropped the lovelorn scout with one bullet.

This was Doc Holliday’s first killing. Three more would follow… or ten more. Some say eighteen and that Doc was arrested seventeen times, without a single charge sticking. It’s hard to say when you’re dealing with a legend. Even if it was more fiction than fact, I wanted to visit the gunslinger’s grave.

Entrance to Doc Holliday's Grave, Glenwood Springs
Entrance to the trail leading up to Doc’s grave
Doc Holliday is buried in Linwood’s Pioneer Cemetery, nestled on Lookout Mountain in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. (The trail entrance is near 11th and Bennett.) How they hoisted his body up the side of the mountain is beyond me. There are switchbacks, steep inclines and washouts all along this half-mile hike. Once you’ve reached the summit, follow the clearly posted signs to the gravesite.

Doc Holliday's Grave, Glenwood Springs
Except, no one is quite certain that Doc Holliday is actually buried there. The cemetery records went up in flames years ago. Rumors vary. In one version, he was buried at the bottom of the mountain due to heavy snows. In another, he was reburied at the top due to a flood. Others claim that he’s really buried in the nearby Potter’s Field (he was broke at the time of his death at the Glenwood Hotel).

In any case, Doc Holliday’s life and death are a colorful part of American history. He was born in 1851 in a small town in Georgia. His full name was John Henry Holliday. His family was middle-class: his father was a druggist, and his mother tried to instill her son with Southern manners and etiquette. Though a gunslinger, he was a gentleman about it.

Doc’s mother passed away from tuberculosis when he was fifteen (the same disease that would later claim him). Subsequently, he enrolled in a two-year dentistry course at the University of Pennsylvania. After Doc was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he headed to Dallas, Texas in 1874 for its drier climate.

The nightlife of Dallas was too enticing, and soon Doc Holliday was making more money from gambling than dentistry. He began drifting around the Southwest until he befriended Wyatt Earp. In 1878, he defended Earp in a saloon shootout, against a group of men in Dodge City, Kansas.

After this the two often traveled together, including to Tombstone, Arizona, where the infamous OK Corral took place.

Six years later, the effects of the tuberculosis wore Doc down. He moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado in hopes of easing the disease. Doc Holliday fell into a coma at a hotel, and passed away on November 8th, 1887.

Flowers for Doc?

Paw Print
Two paws.  I went… but I was carried.

Lane & Juliet

The writing and photography team behind Southwest Compass, the travel blog for the American Southwest.



These pictures are gorgeous. Seems Colorado always is.

I’m not I really knew much about Doc Holliday, so appreciated learning this.

The Duo

Colorado and Utah always seem to be competing for “prettiest state”. Thanks for stopping by.

Courtney Mroch

Love this kind of post! History, legends, graves…I never realized Doc Holliday was buried in CO. Kind of cool. I always associate him with Tombstone but I guess I never realized what happened to him after that. Awesome post!
Courtney Mroch recently posted..Movie Monday: Sleepy HollowMy Profile

The Duo

We had to summarize for the post, but he’s one of the best characters in American history. Thanks for stopping by!

The Duo

The Southwest is full of mixed cultures, great food, history and unique architecture. We hope you find your way here one day.

The Duo

I LOVED Val Kilmer’s depiction of him. It’s the best one I’ve seen. Thanks for stopping by.

The Duo

We’ve found that several gunslingers may not be buried in the spots that we think. They became legends after their deaths — like artists — and 20 years later someone put up a tombstone for them. :)

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