Monday, February 22, 2010

Times of the Old West

What part of the old west do you like most? There are at least four distinct periods of time in the old west. (All overlap and dates are very general.

The first people - anything before 1800
The Mountain Men - to about 1850
Settlers and Cowboys - up to 1900
The recent west - anything after 1900

I am sure that we could break this down into many smaller groups but this is the way I see it. Now which is your favorite? Many people hedge and say, “all of them,” and I guess that's all right. But really do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guns of the Old West

The Cowboy’s Gun
Most cowboys’ didn’t carry one but when they did the 1873 Colt Peacemaker, a .45 caliber single action revolver was the gun of choice. And you could buy it mail order for less than twenty bucks including postage. It didn’t look fancy but was quite reliable; enough so that the U.S. Army adopted the gun. From that time on the gun was usually referred to as the Army Colt. The gun the military purchased came with a seven and one half inch barrel and was much preferred to the civilian mail order model with the shorter five and a half inch barrel. This became the gun of the gunfighters—even if most of the famous gunfighters were only in novels and later on television. This is the gun that won the west.
But not all famous gunman of the west carried the .45 Army Colt. Some like Bill Hickok (I really don’t like him) carried a .36 caliber Navy Colt made in 1851. As a matter of fact he carried three, along with an array of other weapons. Dime novelists claimed he often carried several knives and at least one derringer. His Navy Colt’s were a little lighter than the Army version but had the same barrel length. The model came out more than twenty years before the 1873 Peacemaker and fans of the Army Colt liked the larger caliber and claimed it to be more accurate than the Navy. Hickok and many others of the old west did not agree.
Hickok’s guns were chrome plated and engraved with his initials. Looked like TV western guns of the 1950s and 60s.
Oh, by the way—Wild Bill was killed by a .45 caliber Colt.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Carried Away—Again

Research can be tricky. If you get bored doing it – might not make a very good story. On the other hand if you get carried away and can’t write because the research is too good to quit reading—you have the start of a story. And that’s what happened to me the past few days researching Jack Wilson (Wovoka) for a story. Great stuff hope the story works out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

American Indian Wisdom

"Everything the Great Spirit has given you, you have to walk through,
you have to experience it. You can’t always walk in the grass, sometimes you have to walk in the sagebrush."
Anonymous—American Plains Indian