Tombstone is one gold rush-era "ghost town" that isn't, well, a total ghost town. With a year-round population of about 1,500 (the town's motto is "The Town Too Tough to Die"), Tombstone hits its stride around Halloween, when travelers descend on the town to celebrate "Helldorado Days," which began as an anniversary commemorating the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral (it went down Oct. 26, 1881). The annual event features a variety of Old West-themed activities and is usually held the third weekend in October. While you're whooping it up Old West-style, don't forget to visit Big Nose Kate's Saloon to buy tickets for the "Gunfighter and Ghost Tour," featuring Tombstone's "most haunted" destinations, and check out famous Boothill Cemetery (pictured), where many of the outlaw gunslingers -- and their victims -- are buried.
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers excursions that transport you back in time and let you relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. Trips to Cass are filled with rich histories of the past, unparalleled views of a vast wilderness area, and close-up encounters with the sights and sounds of original steam-driven locomotives. The town of Cass remains relatively unchanged. The restored company houses add to the charm and atmosphere of the town. From the company store and museum to the train depot, you'll find an abundance of things to do prior to your departure on the historic Cass Railroad. The Cass Scenic Railroad is the same line built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass. The locomotives are the same Shay locomotives used in Cass, and in the rain forests of British Columbia for more than a half-century. The passenger cars are old logging flat-cars refurbished and made into passenger cars. Once you board the train, the real excitement begins! The great pistons of the carefully restored Shay locomotive will start pulsing, driven by hundreds of pounds of steam pressure. The shaft begins turning, the wheels find traction, and the locomotive begins to move. With thick, black smoke belching from its stack, the train pulls away from the station, passing the old water tower from which the locomotive tanks are filled. As the train rounds the curve up Leatherbark Creek, you'll pass the Cass Shop, where the locomotives are serviced and repaired, and a graveyard of antiquated, but fascinating equipment on sidetracks. As the pressure builds, the locomotive is driven at full steam, and the laborious journey up the mountain toward the two switchbacks begin. The loud huff of the stack, the clanking of gears and pistons, the furious scream of the whistle at the crossings, and the ever present clackety-clack of the rails will indeed make you feel as if you have been transported back i
The world-famous parade known as Mardi Gras is part of a week-long festival of street celebrations, floats and beads-galore. The city-wide event takes place every year before the season of Lent. Mardi Grad, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday -- the final day of Carnival. Visitors come from all over to be a part of the festivities, and for many locals, it is the most anticipated event of the year.