A legend of the American West, John Henry “Doc” Holliday is buried in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Western history buffs and anyone up for a short outdoor excursion can hike the Doc Holliday Trail to Linwood Cemetery to pay their respects to the dentist-turned-gambler-and-gunslinger.
In addition to Doc’s marker, be sure to stop by bandit Kid Curry’s grave, as well as the tombstones of Glenwood Springs pioneers. Every year over multiple weekends in October, the Glenwood Historical Society hosts the annual Ghost Walk at the cemetery where talented actors portray characters of Glenwood Springs’ past.
Playing the Hand He Was Dealt
Though Doc was trained in dentistry, he suffered from consumption, also called tuberculosis, which had no known cure at the time. Unable to practice his trade, Doc became adept at other life skills—cards and quick draw. Holliday made a living both playing and dealing Faro, but it was his skill with a six-shooter that made him famous.
Tombstone & Friendship with Wyatt Earp
Deputized by his friend, the sheriff Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday is best known for his involvement in the shoot-out at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, in which several members of the outlaw Clanton gang were killed. Holliday was later suspected of killing Johnny Ringo—the leader of the Cowboys gang—and a warrant was issued for his arrest. To escape the law, Doc made his way to Colorado. Though Arizona sought his extradition, Colorado state officials did not comply with the order. Holliday spent time in Denver and Leadville before landing in Glenwood Springs.
Earp had kind words for Doc Holliday: “I found him a loyal friend and good company. He was a dentist whom necessity made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease made a vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long, lean blonde fellow nearly dead with consumption and at the same time the most skillful gambler and nerviest, speediest and deadliest man with a six gun I ever knew.”
Running Out of Time
By the time Holliday arrived in Glenwood Springs, his health was in severe decline. He hoped the miraculous mineral hot springs and vapor caves could provide a cure, or at least offer some relief.
Holliday checked himself into the Hotel Glenwood Springs, which burned to the ground in 1945. Currently, it is the location of Bullocks, a western goods store, as well as the home of the Doc Holliday Collection. Operated by the Glenwood Historical Society and Frontier Museum, it houses an array of artifacts, including an engraved pistol purportedly given to him by his girlfriend Big Nose Kate. – More about the pistol!
Doc’s Final Days in Glenwood Springs
Holliday spent the last 57 days of his life in Glenwood Springs. On November 8, 1887, he was said to have asked for a glass of whiskey, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Then, looking down at his bare feet, Doc said, “This is funny,” and died. Apparently, Doc never expected to die in bed, but rather with his boots on, succumbing to his end in a gunfight.
*All photos on this page are courtesy of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum.