Death Valley in California is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. It’s 282 feet below sea level and has recorded the highest air temperature on Earth (134 degrees Fahrenheit) 19th century businessmen went to Death Valley in search of borax.
One of the earliest forms of photography was called ambrotype. It was used for about 10 years before tintype became more popular. Ambrotype was done on glass.
This old west saloon in Michigan looks just like one of today’s many bars. That’s because the general layout of saloons and bars has not changed much in the 150 years since. There’s a counter with a bartender who sells alcohol. A perfect combination.
Buffalo Bill’s Grass Dancers
Two Oglala Lakota Natives, known as Elk and Black Elk, were part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. They traveled all around the world with the show and were famous for dancing while wearing shells and bells.
Native Americans had a special name for any Black American who served in the U.S. Army: Buffalo Soldier. You might remember the term from Bob Marley’s song. In 2005, the final living Buffalo Soldier passed away. He was 111 years old.
Geronimo was the leader of the Apaches and united a number of Native tribes against their American and Mexican enemies.
Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson
Wyatt Earp is photographed with his friend Bat Masterson. Wyatt is known for his role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral where he along with his brothers Morgan and Virgil, as well as his friend, Doc Holliday, squared off against four outlaws.
Wild Bill Hickok
Wild Bill Hickock might have been the fastest gun in the west. Legend has it that he killed over 100 people. Bill was not happy when this count gave him the reputation of being a killer. He was responsible for exaggerating his kill count when in reality, he killed only about 10 men.
Guns were an integral part of survival in the wild west and everyone had one. Since photographs were a relatively new invention and very exclusive, many cowboys were filled with pride when they got their photograph taken. They always wanted to show off their guns in the pictures.
19th Century Move
Back in the 19th century, people moved around, just not as frequently as they do today. Here is a couple taking a break in Kansas as they head west to start a new life.
Buffalo Bill’s Cowboys
Buffalo Bill’s biggest attraction was his cowboys and their gun fight re-enactments. The best cowboy sharpshooters made it into the show. They had to pass an audition to prove their skill. They show paid them very well so they never had to worry about financial problems.
Wild Western Man
This 19th century man, shown in a Kansas City newspaper, is wearing the traditional garb of the wild west. The hat he’s wearing is a Mexican sombrero and was vital to survival in the harsh wild western climate.
Kit Carson was an American frontiersman who helped develop California. He was illiterate and spent a lot of time with Natives. He even married 2 native women. His third wife was Mexican. Kit had a total of 10 children.
John Grabill, Wild West Photographer
In the late 1800s, photographer John Grabill sent almost 200 pictures to Congress for copyright. His photos chronicled the development of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado, as well as its effects on the local Natives.
Born in 1840, Bloody Bill became the leader of the gang, Quantrill’s Raiders. During the Civil War he had a lot of pent up rage and slaughtered Union soldiers whenever he could. On one occasion, he killed 20 soldiers with his gang and then massacred another 100.
Rufus Buck Gang
Rufus Buck started a short-lived, but deadly, gang made up of part-Creek Indians and African-Americans. They killed some people, robbed, raped and were eventually captured. They were sentenced to death.
Pearl Hart gained notoriety just before the turn of the 20th century as a female stagecoach robber. She cut her hair short, dressed in men’s clothing, and was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, but pardoned after three years.
Sierra Nevada Mountain Trail
Traveling across the wild west was very dangerous. Many rich travelers had to hire armed men to protect them on dangerous routes.
One of the most famous female outlaws in the wild west was Belle Starr. Her real name was Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr and her family called her May. She rode sidesaddle with two pistols and was killed in 1889. Her murder is unsolved to this day.
General Custer was most famous for losing at the Battle of Little Big Horn. He had risen in the Army ranks during the Civil War and the Indian Wars.
Terry’s Texas Rangers
One of the most successful cavalry regiments on the Confederate side of the Civil War was Terry’s Texas Rangers. The regiment was formed in 1861 and was involved in at least 275 engagements until it was finally dissolved in 1865.
A True Cowboy
This picture depicts a true cowboy, Charlie Nebo, along with Nicholas Janis. Charlie never tried to inflate his achievements and was happy to live like a true frontier man.
Rose of Cimarron
Rose Dunn, also known as Rose of Cimarron, fell in love with a wild west bandit named George “Bittercreek” Newcomb after being introduced to him by her brothers. In 1895, George was killed by the brothers after they became bounty hunters.
Bathing In The Wild West
Bathing did not occur on a daily basis in the wild west. In fact, some believed that bathing could make you sick! Needless to say, this led to a stinky situation. Women bathed at home, and by “bathed” we mean they wiped themselves down with a cloth and a pitcher of water.
Before Mexicans, these Chinese railway workers were the hated immigrants. They made $1 a day when white workers made about $2.50. They also had to personally move their own camps and get their own food, while this was all provided for the white workers.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
Buffalo Bill, whose real name was William Cody, started a very popular “Wild West” show in 1883 that lasted for several decades. The show toured around the U.S. and had many acts, including gun fight re-enactments.