Tarnation was on the verge of being recognized by the governor as a bona fide town when its lawman, Sheriff Rix, was murdered. No other sheriff dared take the job, so the town became overrun by criminals and all the original inhabitants fled... except for the undertaker, Mr. N. Black. The outlaw Jesse Lynch fled to Tarnation, knowing that no lawman would pursue him there.
Tarnation consists of one central street that runs all the way up to the cemetery. The street is lined with hollowed-out buildings.