Wyatt Earp Fought Here, but the Corral Isn't O.K.

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Just how true to history Tombstone, Ariz., should remain is the subject of a modern-day shootout over its designation as a national historic landmark.

"The town too tough to die," as Tombstone bills itself, is at risk of losing its designation as a national historic landmark because some say it has been a little too kitschy in embellishing its heritage.

"It's becoming like a Hollywood set instead of an authentic historic Western town," said Sally Alves, a bed-and-breakfast owner.

Dates from the 19th century are painted on buildings erected in the last few decades. Some stores have simulated brick or adobe facades. Some are painted in colors like purple or turquoise that probably were not used in 1880's frontier towns.

The National Park Service, which administers the landmark program, last year listed Tombstone's status as "threatened" because of building alterations "that didn't have any basis in history," said Greg Kendrick, regional manager of the program. Only about 90 of the nation's 2,400 historic landmarks are considered "threatened," mostly because of deterioration, not decoration. Since 1980, 25 have lost their designation.


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