While recuperating from wounds that had shattered his left arm after the December 28, 1881, ambush in Tombstone, Arizona, Virgil Earp spent two years with his parents in Colton, California. He also sought treatment from surgeons in San Francisco.
Despite having only one good arm, Earp was hired by the Southern Pacific Railroad as a guard during a right-of-way feud the railroad was having with a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The September 13, 1883, confrontation at Colton’s Crossing (between Colton and San Bernardino) stopped just short of becoming bloodier than the Tombstone shoot-out.
For a brief time, Earp opened a private detective agency in Colton before he was elected constable in July 1886. A year later, he was elected Colton’s first city marshal. He resigned in 1888, and he and Allie left Colton to move to San Bernardino. The house where they lived in Colton still stands, at 528 West H Street.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org