Society of the Old West

From early westward expansion through the early 20th Century.

Remember when we were all kids and we'd go out and play Cowboys & Indians? Good guys and bad guys - outlaw and Marshal? Cochise or Tom Jeffords reenacting "Broken Arrow". Then we got a bit older and seriously studied the history of the Old West?  SOTOW came along and we shared our knowledge of the tales, lore, people and adventures that we learned of during that exciting period? 

Our heroes were John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Widmark - Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie along with Lucas McCain just to name a few. We panned for gold, became 20 Mule Team skinners, crossed the Red River, nearly died of thirst watching "Death Valley Days", and knew where the Lost Dutchman's Mine is located.

And all the while, we sent a rider up ahead to scout for a campsite to bed the herd down for the evening and watched our back trail for bushwhackers and renegade Indians. Fresh coffee was always on the fire and we'd toss in a fistful of cold water to "settle the grounds" and complained about steaks and beans at every meal. But hats off to the trail chef when he made fresh biscuits or made a succulent dried apple pie. Amazing meals came out of that Chuck Wagon!  

It was exciting to play poker with Maverick, ride in a posse led by Matt Dillon, see Miss Kitty tending bar or Ol' Doc treating a wanted outlaws wounds while his side kick, Chester or Festus, held a Winchester to foil the varmints attempt at any escape.  

There was the rush for California gold after James Marshalls 'accidental' discovery on the American River. And the Bonanza of Virginia City' Comstock lode. Then came the Civil War with its farthest western battles taking place in New Mexico and Arizona wherein troops from both sides of the conflict had to deal with Apache Warriors led by Cochise.

The war stopped Butterfields Stage line as well as signaled the demise of the Pony Express. Along came the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad. Some would say that was the end of the Old West. But the great cattle drives, the era of the cowboy, the legacy of Jesse James' gang and the escapades of Butch Cassidy and a sundry of other malcontents, were living the dream that still reverberates today. 

We can't forget the Townsfolk who established businesses, newspapers, opened saloons, built schools, worshiped in the churches they built and celebrated with public picnics on Main street or in the town square on the 4th of July. The arrival of a Territorial dignitary or the visit of a Washington official or War hero was always cause for celebration. 

What of that mound of dirt on the banks of a creek, or just beyond the ruts of a wagon trail? That pile of rocks at the base of a desolate hillside or behind a long abandoned adobe?  Do you ever wonder who rests in these lonely graves, what their names were and what stories they might tell?

The Shifting Whispering Sands are always exposing and then hiding the mysteries of the Old West. We had a blast. Any of you up to playing "Cowboys & Indians?" The coffees' always hot so mount up and put in your two bits!


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Comment by Carbine on September 18, 2014 at 6:43pm

Thanks Jim, Milt and Neil. You guys bring back some memories, inspiration, and hope to the Old Wests' future. You've done a great job in promoting our history by sharing your knowledge with others. Who knows, just by chance from your dedication and enthusiasm, one of those students or readers will become historians and authors of the Old West themselves.

There is always the chance one of your students, visitors or even a site member will find a long lost diary, old newspaper report, or eyewitness account that sets the record straight on countless unanswered questions of the era.    

Comment by Carbine on September 13, 2014 at 8:08pm

Thanks Milt, for being here and your profound words. Especially about living in the shadow of the Chihenne!  I think they respected their history much more so then than we do ours today.

As time marches on the history of the Old West fades further into the sunset. Thanks for keeping it alive, Milt,  as we all learn from one another in hopes that a new generation will appreciate the legacy as well as we do and carry on the traditions! 

Comment by dirtrider on September 13, 2014 at 7:18pm

I look back at those childhood days of cowboys and indians, good guys and bad guys, hiking after dark alone, riding bikes with no safety crap on, etc..  Then came the Scouts and learning how they did it before all the modern bs.  A compass and the stars got you everywhere.  A map was a treasure.  Remember how to measure a tree without climbing it or even a hill?  We repeated the pledge of allegiance to the flag, gave thanks for our food, called our teachers "sir or ma'am."  The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, were our heroes and role models. 

Now, living in the shadow of the Chihenne reservation, at night in the hills, I listen to the voices of Baishan, Juh, Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, great and mighty men.

Then comes the realization that the goodness of those days is now history.  We are doomed by the spirit of indifference and self indulgence.

Thank God for the men we ride with here.

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