If you love history and the open road, we have combined the two just for you, complete with comprehensive listings and inside information to give you a leg up on any foreigners (people who live east of the Mississippi).
Here is your own personal cheat sheet on 83 must-see destinations detailing what to see and, as a special bonus, the Inside Skinny, culled from inside sources (you know, people who actually live there). Grab your gear and hit the gas for our eighth annual travel extravaganza, as we give you what you’ve always wanted: a veritable road map to the Wild West.
Did You Know? Prescott is pronounced pres-kit, with the second syllable rhyming with the second syllable in biscuit. Historians say the town was named after Boston native William H. Prescott, author of The History of the Conquest of Mexico, and that the town name acquired his Boston accent.
You’ve Got to See: Sharlot Hall Museum, founded by Arizona’s first territorial historian (Indian Art Market on July 10-11); Phippen Art Museum (Western Art Show on May 29-31); Whiskey Row with its 1877 Palace Saloon and 1901 Hotel St. Michael; 1927 Hassayampa Inn, named after the river which gold prospectors crossed on their way to the Bradshaw Mountains; the former gold prospector site of Granite Dells, where you can rock climb; Prescott Frontier Days with 1888 “World’s Oldest Rodeo” from June 28-July 4, and Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering on August 13-14.
Inside Skinny: If you want to watch the daily parade on Whiskey Row, the best seat in the house is the window seat that faces out from the Bistro St. Michael in Hotel St. Michael. The coffee is excellent.
Did You Know? When the postal service told residents that the town’s name Never Sweat would not fly, the government named the town after Idaho Sen. Fred Dubois who was a member of the Public Lands Committee. In defiance, the citizens refused to pronounce the French correctly and pronounced it phonetically as “Dew-Boys.”
You’ve Got to See: Home to the largest wintering Bighorn Sheep in the lower 48, which are honored at the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center; Tie Hack Memorial; Dubois Museum & Wind River Historical Center, offering trips to Sheep Eater Bighorn sites and tie hack ruins from May through October; Friday Night Rodeos from June through August.
Inside Skinny: The breakfast of local cowboys starts with biscuits and gravy from the Cowboy Café, known for big portions and big flavor. Then head back to the boardwalk to Two Ocean Books for Western and regional titles.
Did You Know? Don’t think of the losing presidential candidate when you want to say the name of this Washington city, but instead picture Andy Warhol’s painting of a Campbell soup can: It’s not Spo-CAIN, it’s Spo-CAN. We may all be saying it incorrectly though, according to Rev. Samuel Parker’s report when he traveled through this country in 1836: “I called them Spokans, but they corrected my pronunciation, and said Spokein, and this they repeated several times, until I was convinced that to give their name a correct pronunciation it should be written Spokein.”
You’ve Got to See: Spokane River Centennial Trail with its marker of the 1858 Army slaughter of 800 Indian horses; Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture; 1895 Flour Mill; 1902 Great Northern Railway Depot Clock Tower; Gondola Skyride over the waterfalls; 1909 Looff Carrousel at Riverfront Park.
Inside Skinny: Spokane Valley’s got a new place to gather over food, Western art and horses with the Cowgirl Co-Op, located on the “back of the bluff,” in nearby Colbert. The grand opening is this spring, and Juni Fisher performs in concert on July 2.
Did You Know? In the wake of Beaumont’s Spindletop oil discovery, Texaco (originally Texas Fuel Company) was created in 1901. Its white-star-in-red-circle logo was based on the state’s own Lone Star symbol. Exxon (originally Humble) and Gulf Oil Corporation (originally Guffey) were also formed in Beaumont that same year.
You’ve Got to See: Gladys City Boomtown Museum with 1901 Spindletop oil derrick replica; John Jay French Museum of 1845-65 pioneer family; Clifton Steamboat Museum; Art Museum of Southeast Texas; Texas Energy Museum; Jefferson County Historical Commission Museum; 1906 Chambers Historical House Museum; 1906 McFaddin-Ward House; 1919 Farmers Mercantile; Crockett Street offers country concerts at Dixie Dance Hall, among other entertainment, and restaurants serving Tex-Mex to Cajun cuisine; bike through scenic and historic areas at the Spindletop Spin on June 5.
Inside Skinny: Hidden in the woodlands bordering the Neches River is the site of the 1831-32 Fort Teran on a bluff called Money Hill (near Rockland). It is marked with a 1936 state historical marker. Don’t miss it. To travel the Neches in Beaumont, ride in an open riverboat operated by Neches River Adventures and leaving from downtown’s Riverfront Park.
OREGON CITY, OR
Did You Know? In Pursuit of a Dream—the film involving 24 students and three teachers who traveled the Oregon Trail by wagon train, which was included in Candy Moulton’s Renegade Roads article in 2009—will show April 10 in Oregon City at the Oregon City High School Theater (check out InPursuitOfADream.org for more information).
You’ve Got to See: At this final stop on the Oregon Trail, check out Philip Foster’s 1847 farm, offering living history on the 1846 Barlow Road; “Father of Oregon” McLoughlin House built in 1846, plus 1849 Dr. Barclay home; 1908 Stevens-Crawford House; 1847 Rose Farm home; Museum of the Oregon Territory (open by appointment); oldest house in Clackamas County, the 1845 Ermatinger House Tea and Textile Museum (open by appointment).
Inside Skinny: For a great view of the Willamette River—which Oregon Trail pioneers had to endure on their dangerous voyage—eat at the Rivershore Bar & Grill. Every table has a river view.
WALNUT GROVE, MN
Did You Know? Author Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on Palm Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. In a 1977 episode of Little House on the Prairie, an NBC series based on her most popular book, Jesse and Frank James take Laura’s sister Mary hostage while they hide out in this town after a foiled bank robbery. (No, that did not really happen.)
You’ve Got to See: Memorabilia from the TV show and Ingalls family history at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, plus the 1898 depot and other settler buildings; 1874-76 Ingalls Dugout Site for On the Banks of Plum Creek fans; hiking path along Plum Creek at Plum Creek Park; Wilder Pageant based on the author’s life held on the banks of Plum Creek during the month of July 2010.
Inside Skinny: Oleson’s Mercantile is a fictional grocery store in the TV series, but the local flower and gift shop named after it is part of the town’s charm.
Did You Know? A foiled bank robbery that did happen took place in Northfield, Minnesota. This James-Younger horse raid on the First National Bank hit the big screen with The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid. At least one scene gave us pause: men are playing a game of baseball while cars drive down the highway. Kind of a Back to the Future move for a movie set in 1876.
You’ve Got to See: First National Bank site of 1876 James-Younger raid at the Northfield Historical Society Museum; the 1877 Archer House River Inn; “Outlaw Run” motorcycle rally to benefit the Northfield Historical Society youth program, on August 21, and Defeat of Jesse James Days, on September 8-12; Younger Brothers Capture in nearby Madelia held on September 18.
Inside Skinny: A Western-style steak fry will be available on Friday and Saturday nights at the rodeo grounds during the Defeat of Jesse James Days festival.
Did You Know? Queen Elizabeth II, visited Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1984. She made a stop at King’s Saddlery, where founder Don King presented her with a hand-tooled wastebasket.
You’ve Got to See: King’s Saddlery and the Don King Museum; Trail End’s 1913 house museum; 1893 Sheridan Inn where Buffalo Bill Cody held auditions on the front porch for his Wild West show; 1892 Johnson County War took place south of here near Buffalo; near 1866 Fort Phil Kearny replica; Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show on May 21-23, Eatons’ Horse Drive on May 23, Bozeman Trail Days on June 18-20, Buffalo Bill Days June 24-27, Sheridan WYO Rodeo on July 9-18, Wagon Box Battlefield Anniversary Tour on August 2, Big West Arts Festival on August 7-8 and Don King Days on September 5-6.
Inside Skinny: Bartenders have been serving beer and whiskey since 1907 at the Mint Bar; with a neon bucking cowboy sign out front, you can’t miss it.
Did You Know? Three years after he founded the town site of Cody, Wyoming, Buffalo Bill joined up with Col. John Peake to publish the Cody Enterprise in 1899. Given how many newspapers have folded these days, surprisingly this paper is still published bi-weekly and remains the town’s oldest business.
You’ve Got to See: The 1902 Irma Hotel built by Buffalo Bill, with the Cody Gunfighters re-enactments held on the porch from June through September; Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody Firearms Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Draper Museum of Natural History and Buffalo Bill Museum); Museum of the Old West & Old Trail Town (includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Hole-in-the-Wall cabin); Dude Ranchers’ Educational Trust & Heritage Center; Western art at Big Horn Galleries; eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park; Cody Nite Rodeo held from June through August, Cody Stampede Rodeo from July 1-4, PRCA Xtreme Bulls on July 5 and September 21-25 brings you Rendezvous Royale with Cody High Style and the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale.
Inside Skinny: If you’re looking to party with lots of people or you’re planning a company retreat, your best bet is Cody Lodging Company’s Bull Moose Retreat, which can sleep 35 comfortably. It even offers a barn and corral for your horses!
Did You Know? Mountain man Miles Goodyear has left his mark everywhere but in the name of Utah’s town Ogden. Fort Buenaventura, the trading post he built in 1845, has been reconstructed on the original site. You can find it next to the park named after him. His 1841 cabin near the junction of Ogden and Weber Rivers has been moved to Grant Avenue and is preserved by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Yet when it came to naming the town, folks thought of fur trader and Canadian explorer Peter Skene Ogden, who had explored the Ogden River region in 1825.
You’ve Got to See: Pioneer Hall Museum with the 1841 cabin of original settler Miles Goodyear; Peery’s Egyptian Theater with twinkling star auditorium; Fort Buenaventura 1845 replica with a Rendezvous held Easter and Memorial Day weekends; Golden Spike site, near Promontory, celebrating its Last Spike Ceremony on May 10.
Inside Skinny: Built in 1890, Roosters Brewing Company and Restaurant served as a Chinese laundry and bordello before serving microbrews. Locals order Polygamy Pale Ale.
VIRGINIA CITY, MT
Did You Know? The town was originally supposed to be named Varina City when the Varina Town Company platted the town site on June 16, 1863. Supporters of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy thought it fit to name the town after Jefferson’s wife Varina. Yet the miners’ court judge Dr. G.G. Bissell filed the official document with the name Virginia instead.
You’ve Got to See: Basically the entire town, since it is a National Historic Landmark. Highlights include the Bale of Hay Saloon with its 1880s back bar; the oldest, continuously-operating store in the state, 1864 Rank’s Mercantile; 19th-century melodramas at the opera house; Brewery Follies cabaret show at the 1863 H.S. Gilbert Brewery; Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad from May through September; stay at the 1864 Fenton House Homestead in nearby Sheridan; “Walk & Talk” Virginia City History Program held every Wednesday from June 16 through August 25, Grand Victorian Ball of 1864 on June 19 and Virginia City Cowboy Gathering on June 25-26.
Inside Skinny: Best local grub is at Banditos in the Wells Fargo building.
Did You Know? Once the land that would become known as Billings, Montana, opened for sale in April 1883, about 5,000 lots sold. Six months later, the town site would earn its nickname “Magic City” when the following opened: 155 businesses, 99 residences, 25 tents, six Northern Pacific Railway buildings and one church.
You’ve Got to See: Grave of mountain man Yellowstone Kelly at Kelly Mountain and of Custer scout Muggins Taylor at boothill cemetery, found along Black Otter Trail, named for a Crow chief killed in 1861; the 1903 Moss Mansion Museum; Western Heritage Center; Yellowstone County Museum; Peter Yegen Jr. Yellowstone County Museum located in the airport; nearby Pictograph Cave park; Wild West Soirée on June 26, with Custer’s Last Stand and Real Bird’s re-enactments held at the nearby Little Bighorn Battlefield west of Hardin on June 25-27. True West’s Custer Ride will trace the 1876 battle on June 22-27.
Inside Skinny: Ritch Rand at Rand’s Custom Hats has created a “Charles M. Russell” hat, which can come with either a cow skull hat pin or the skull as a pen-and-ink illustration on the crown.
Did You Know? The Strater Hotel, which opened in Durango in 1887, was actually a popular winter home for residents. Since each hotel room had its own wood-burning stove, families would ditch their homes for a much warmer pad.
You’ve Got to See: Travel on the 1882 line in a steam train on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Turner Guides elk hunting; Animas Museum; Durango Discovery Museum in 1892 powerhouse; Old West show at Bar D Chuckwagon; cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park; Old Spanish Trail; near Chimney Rock at San Juan National Forest, and Canyon of the Ancients and Hovenweep monuments; Fiesta Days June 24-31; 1887 Strater Hotel, with its Durango Cowboy Gathering on September 30-October 2; Heritage Celebration on October 7-10.
Inside Skinny: Diamond Belle Saloon, located at the 1887 Strater Hotel, is a great cowboy bar to whet your whistle.
Did You Know? In 1960, a singing group called itself the Pendletones and made its signature look the heavy wool plaid shirts favored by surfers in the South Bay. Pendleton Woolen Mills in Pendleton made the shirts. When “Surfin” was first printed in 1961, Candix Records had changed the group’s name to the Beach Boys. The quintet wore Pendleton shirts on the cover of Surfin’ Safari.
You’ve Got to See: Pendleton Underground Tours, sharing its Chinese heritage from 1870-1930 (living history tour on May 15); Cattle Drive Sculpture Park; Tamástslikt Cultural Institute; Umatilla County Historical Society’s Heritage Station Museum in the 1909 depot; Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon; 1909 Pendleton Woolen Mills; Hamley & Co’s saddles since 1883; near National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City; Pendleton Round-Up celebrates its centennial this year on September 15-18, with Happy Canyon Indian Pageant.
Inside Skinny: If you want to surround yourself in local rodeo lore while eating a hearty American meal, head to the 1893 Rainbow Café, with its photo collection of the All-Around Cowboys from the Pendleton Round-Up.
Did You Know? At 825,000 acres in size, the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, is the nation’s largest national historic landmark. That’s Texas Big! Yet, although it is among the world’s largest ranches, the King Ranch is only 15 percent as large as South Australia’s Anna Creek Station, which, at roughly six million acres, is bigger than Israel.
You’ve Got to See: The 1853 King Ranch & Museum; King Ranch Saddle Shop in the 1904 J.B. Ragland Mercantile Co. building; John E. Conner Museum (more than 900 branding irons!) and Peeler Hall of Horns on the Texas A&M campus; Kenedy Ranch Museum offers South Texas artifacts; Kingsville 1904 Depot Museum holds its Train Days celebration on May 7-9, Ranch Hand Breakfast at King’s Ranch on November 20.
Inside Skinny: Locals credit Young’s Pizza as the “birthplace of the Texicali” sandwich.
WALLA WALLA, WA
Did You Know?? The first recorded usage of the word “hamburger” appeared in the January 5, 1889, Walla Walla Union in Walla Walla, Washington: “You are asked if you will have pork chop beefsteak ham and egg hamburger steak or liver and bacon.” Can we have some Walla Walla sweet onions with that hamburger steak?
You’ve Got to See: Whitman Mission, which shares the 1847 killing of the missionaries; Kirkman House Museum with a year-long look at the state’s suffrage movement; near 1868 Frazier Farmstead Museum; 1858 Fort Walla Walla Museum, offers living history weekends June through August, Mountain man John Colter living history talk at Fort Walla Walla on April 4 and Fort Walla Walla Days on June 12-13.
Inside Skinny: The restored 1927 Marcus Whitman Hotel is a wine connoisseur’s dream, as it offers guests the opportunity to wine and dine with a featured winemaker. Those planning to visit any of the more than 60 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley should include this hotel among your stops!
SILVER CITY, NM
Did You Know? The calling card of Mangas Coloradas (born in this area around 1791) was the copper-tipped arrows he sent flying into settlers’ camps. Local Apaches harvested copper from the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine. One of those copper workings, known as “Chino” or “Chinaman,” was sold and became the Chino Copper Company in 1909. Located near Silver City, New Mexico, the Chino Mine is the oldest active mine in the Southwest. Yet due to the discovery of silver ore in Chloride Flats, the town would be incorporated in 1878 as Silver City, New Mexico.
You’ve Got to See: Gravesite of Billy the Kid’s mother Catherine McCarty-Antrim in Memory Lane Cemetery; 2005’s The Missing pioneer cabin at Murray Ryan Visitor Center; Silver City Museum; hiking the Continental Divide Trail in Gila National Forest; near 1866 Fort Bayard, home of Buffalo Soldiers, and Gila Cliff Dwellings; 25th Anniversary of Silver City Main Street Project on May 15, Wild West Pro Rodeo on June 1-4, plus Cowboy Days on June 5, and Fort Bayard Days on September 17-18.
Inside Skinny: The best watering hole is the cowboy bar the Buffalo Bar, known as the “Buff” by locals. The re-created La Capilla chapel, on a hill overlooking downtown, is a great place to fly kites, just as it was during the 1880s, says photographer Bill Lindley of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO
Did You Know? Spanning more than two city blocks and completed in 1888, the Hot Springs Pool—the world’s largest of its kind—in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is kept at a comfortable 90-degree temp. Be sure to take a dip, as the #5 True Western Town celebrates its 125th birthday this year.
You’ve Got to See: Where Presidents Taft and T. Roosevelt rested their heads at the 1893 Hotel Colorado; Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with the 1895 Fairy Caves; 1888 Glenwood Hot Springs Pool; Yampah Spa’s 1896 Vapor Caves; Frontier Historical Museum; Glenwood Railroad Museum in the 1904 depot; historic Dotsero-Ute Trail; Doc Holliday and Kid Curry markers at Linwood Cemetery (plus guided re-enactor tours are offered in October).
Inside Skinny: Head to the Book Grove for new and out-of-print Western Americana. Plus, since the city is celebrating 125 years in 2010, it is offering birthday coupons to help you celebrate your birthday (contact Chamber of Commerce).
Did You Know? The 1859 Fort Larned in Larned owes much to its longevity because its buildings are made out of native limestone. Along the Post Rock Scenic Byway, track thousands of limestone fenceposts, visit the limestone home of Samuel Perry Dinsmoor in Lucas, the three-story limestone building housing the Geary County Historical Society Museum in Junction City and learn more about the rock at the Post Rock Museum in La Crosse.
You’ve Got to See: Wagon trail ruts on the Fort Larned Military Road and the 1859 Fort Larned; Santa Fe Trail Center; Sibley’s 1825 Campsite; 1869 Little Red House replica; October 1806 Zebulon Pike Plaza; auto tours of the Santa Fe Trail, of founder Henry Booth sites and of historic houses available at the Chamber of Commerce; the Santa Fe Trail Association Rendezvous on September 16-18.
Did You Know? About the town’s Wild Bull and Calamity Cow? The Frontier Park buffalo herd in Hays began in 1953 with a bull named “Wild Bill” and a cow named “Calamity Jane.”
You’ve Got to See: Buffalo Herd at Frontier Park; Ellis County Historical Society Museum, plus carries the brochures for the 1860s-80s downtown walking tour; 1867-74 Boot Hill Cemetery; 1874 Plymouth Country Schoolhouse; Old Rome Townsite marker; 1865 Fort Hays (new summer exhibits); Stone Gallery’s driving tour of Wild West sculptures featuring folks such as Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody; Young Troopers Camp at Fort Hays on June 18-20, Wild West Festival on July 1-4 and Fort Hays Graveside Conversations on October 30.
Inside Skinny: You can learn to play the Old West gambling card game faro at the saloon inside the Ellis County Historical Society Museum.
SANTA FE, NM
Did You Know? While serving as territorial governor of New Mexico, Lew Wallace wrote his 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. He finished writing it while staying at the nation’s oldest government building, the Palace of the Governors, in Santa Fe.
You’ve Got to See: Spanish Colonial history comes to life at El Rancho de las Golondrinas on the 1598-1885 El Camino Real, a national scenic byway; Santa Fe Plaza also links to historic Old Pecos and Santa Fe Trails; New Mexico History Museum with 1610 Palace of the Governors (hosts a Fred Harvey Dinner Party on April 11); Museum of Indian Arts; state’s oldest art museum, New Mexico Museum of Art; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Santa Fe Southern Railway with 1909 depot; J.W. Eaves Movie Ranch; Dumont Maps & Books of the West; Altermann Galleries; Old Spanish National Historic Trail; near prehistoric Indian ruins at Bandelier and Jemez monuments; Spanish Market on July 24-25, Manitou Galleries’ Auction on August 15-17 and Santa Fe Indian Market, the nation’s largest, takes place August 21-22.
Inside Skinny: Locals love breakfast at the Tecolote Café; be sure to order the atole piñon pancakes (a short stack’s fine—you won’t be able to eat a full stack!). Then walk down Water Street to Collected Works Bookstore for good reads, good coffee and great coffeecake (imported from Harry’s Roadhouse), and imagine where the jail stood that once held Billy the Kid.
Did You Know? The Lincoln County War-era of Lincoln, New Mexico, is so well-preserved that the original merchandise can still be found in the shelves at Tunstall’s store. The murder of this merchant in 1878 would mark the beginning of the war between his Regulators (cowhands, including Billy the Kid) against the Murphy-Dolan monopoly that controlled the region.
You’ve Got to See: Old Lincoln County Courthouse Museum offers exhibits on the 1878-79 Lincoln County War; bed and breakfasts include 1860 Casa de Patron, 1876 Ellis Store and the Wortley Hotel, once owned by Pat Garret and rebuilt on original 1874 foundation; Tunstall and Montaño stores; 1850s Torreon; 1855 Fort Stanton; restaurant at Dolan House; on Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway, with visitor center in nearby Ruidoso; near ghost town of White Oaks; Old Lincoln Days, Fort Stanton Live and Pony Express Trail Ride on August 6-8.
Inside Skinny: Try the green chile at the Wortley Hotel. Its motto is: “No customer gunned down in 125 years.” Ha! This is a reference to when Bob Olinger, who was eating at the hotel, heard a shot across the street and went to investigate. Billy the Kid shot him dead.
Did You Know? Artist Georgia O’Keeffe made New Mexico her permanent home in 1949. From either her Ghost Ranch house near Chama or her home in Abiquiu, she painted and worked with clay until she moved to Santa Fe in 1984, two years before the 98-year-old would die.
You’ve Got to See: Steam-era railroading is alive in the Rocky Mountains at the nation’s highest narrow-gauge railroad, the 1880 Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad; hike at the Continental Divide west of town and at Cumbres Pass; rafting and kayaking trips on the Rio Chama; Old Spanish National Historic Trail; near Los Ojos and its Tierra Wools from Churro Sheep, and artist O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch & Abiquiu homes; Chama Days held on August 13-15.
Inside Skinny: Locals recommend “living on Chama time” at the 1881 Foster’s Hotel, Restaurant and Saloon, across from the Cumbres and Toltec railyard.
VIRGINIA CITY, NV
Did You Know? The famous American author who adopted his pen name in Virginia City, Nevada, was Samuel Clemens. He first used his pen name Mark Twain while reporting for the local Territorial Enterprise in 1863.
You’ve Got to See: In our #1 True Western Town of the Year, you can ride the “Queen of the Short Line” as the Virginia & Truckee Railway works to complete its line from Gold Hill to Carson City; Mark Twain Bookstore; Comstock Cemeteries; 1862 Territorial Enterprise building; 1867 First Presbyterian Church; the state’s oldest hotel, Gold Hill Hotel, in 1862 Reisen House; 1885 Piper Opera House; Comstock Historic Preservation Weekend is held May 14-16, Railfest on August 14-15, Civil War Days on Sept. 4-6 and Camel Races on Sept. 10-12.
Inside Skinny: Not only does the Mark Twain Bookstore maintain the largest stock ofTwain books and materials in the nation, but it also owns a large collection of original early Comstock photos. Say hello to owner Joe Curtis.
Did You Know? Before Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote in July 1890, 70-year-old Louisa “Grandma” Swain of Laramie cast her ballot in 1870 and became the first female to vote legally. How was that possible? The territorial legislature had granted women equal political rights that year.
You’ve Got to See: Butch Cassidy was among the inmates housed at the 1872 Wyoming Territorial Prison; 1882 Ames Monument that pays tribute to Union Pacific financiers; on the Oregon-California-Mormon Trails, 1849 Fort Laramie, with audio tour; Laramie Plains Museum; Wyoming House for Historic Women; University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center; Medicine Bow National Forest; Butch Cassidy Days on June 25-27, and Laramie Jubilee Days on July 3-11.
Inside Skinny: Our good friend Bill McClelland recommends the Mexican dishes at El Conquistador (locals call it the “Conq.”).
PAGOSA SPRINGS, CO
Did You Know? The two rock spires extending into the sky at Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs is where Ancestral Puebloans lived in what is believed to be an outlier pueblo of the Chaco Canyon culture (A.D. 850 to 1150).
You’ve Got to See: Pagosa Hot Springs, where you can soak for a bit and then head on the walking path that shares the Ute history of the springs; Fred Harman Art Museum pays tribute to the works of one of the original founders of the Cowboy Artists of America; San Juan Historical Society Museum; Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park; Continental Divide Trail; near Hovenweep monument, Chimney Rock at San Juan National Forest and silver mining town of Creede; Red Ryder Roundup on Fourth of July weekend.
Inside Skinny: In her guide book Best Hikes With Children in Colorado, Maureen Keilty recommends the Great Kiva and Chimney Rock Trails for families, saying the 0.9-mile day hike is best between mid-May to October.
Did You Know? Brigham Young founded Mountpelier, Idaho, in honor of the capital of his home state of Vermont.
You’ve Got to See: The Bank of Montpelier that Butch Cassidy robbed in 1896; Rails & Trails Museum; National Oregon/California Trail Center near original trail ruts and landmarks including Peg Leg Smith’s Trading Post, 1861 Wagon Box Grave and Hudspeth’s Cutoff; guided tours of Minnetonka Cave; 1918 City Hall; 1919 Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon colonists were sent to settle the Bear Lake Valley in 1863).
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
Did You Know? William Palmer, the founder of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, is also the founder of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
You’ve Got to See: Garden of the Gods Park with emigrant landmark Pike’s Peak; Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum; Old Colorado City Historical Society’s History Center; Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame; Western Museum of Mining & Industry; Ghost Town Museum; 1873 McAllister House; near Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave in Golden, Pike’s Peak Cog Railway and Manitou Cliff Dwellings; Ride for the Brand Championship Ranch Rodeo on July 3, and Pike’s Peak or Bust Rodeo Days on July 14-17.
Inside Skinny: A bookstore you could spend hours in—with more than 250,000 books—is Hooked on Books. Afterwards, visit Art Gallery of the Rockies for American Indian and Western art by popular artists such as Howard Terpning.
Did You Know? As part of Washington state’s centennial celebration in 1989, Yakima artist Phil Kooser kicked off the mural-in-a-day project in Toppenish. This “Town of Murals” shows historic scenes such as the 1855 battle between soldiers from Fort Dalles, Oregon, and the local Yakimas. More than 70 murals have been painted on the town’s buildings, and every June more murals are added.
You’ve Got to See: More than 70 Old West-themed murals, with a map available in downtown stores; Northern Pacific Railway Museum in 1911 depot; Yakama Nation Museum & Cultural Center; Toppenish Nati’l Wildlife Refuge; Mural-in-a-Day on June 4-5, Yakama Nation Treaty Day Commemoration of 1855 on June 4, Toppenish Rodeo & Pow Wow on July 1-4 and Western Art Show on August 20-22.
Inside Skinny: Turn the dial to KYNR 1490 AM, Yakama Nation radio. It features programs such as “American Indian Living” and “Voices from the Circle.”
CARSON CITY, NV
Did You Know? In October 1864, Gov. James W. Nye transmitted the text of the Nevada State Constitution from Carson City to President Abraham Lincoln, who, three days after, would proclaim Nevada be admitted into the Union. It was the longest morse code message ever sent: 16,543 Word Count, 175 Pages of Transcription and $60,975.70 Cost of Transmission in today’s dollars ($4,313.27 in 1864).
You’ve Got to See: Nevada State Railroad Museum shares rail heritage while awaiting completion of V&T Railway to Carson City in 2012; Nevada State Museum at 1866 Carson City Mint; Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada; Carson Hot Springs; Kit Carson Trail offers about 60 landmarks including 1871 Capitol; 1862 St. Charles Hotel; Stewart Indian School Trail self-guided audio tour; nearby Genoa hosts Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival on April 29-May 2; Carson City Rendezvous held June 11-13, and Railfest on Aug. 14-15.
Inside Skinny: Jim Clark, the Train Man behind V&T’s restoration, tells us the “best restaurant in Carson City” is Adele’s Restaurant & Saloon—very Victorian! He also recommends a “great Basque-style restaurant,” Thurman’s Ranch House (closed on Tuesday’s). Its rib-sticking Western barbecue is served with Family Style offerings (cowboy beans included).
Did You Know? In the 2002 film About Schmidt, directed by a Nebraska native, Jack Nicholson’s character takes a tour of the Great Platte River Road Archway Museum in Kearney. We named it our top museum last year, because this museum, which literally crosses I-80, does an excellent job of bringing the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to life.
You’ve Got to See: The 1889 Frank House Museum at University of Nebraska, with monthly Saturday history discussions through May; Great Platte River Road Archway Museum; Buffalo County Historical Society’s Trails & Rails Museum; Museum of Nebraska Art; Harmon Park’s rock garden; 1848 Fort Kearny replica; Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska on June 4-5, and Trails & Rails Museum’s 25th Wagons West Celebration on July 10.
Inside Skinny: Spring is Sandhill Crane watching season, with guided trips offered at nearby Rowe Sanctuary.
Did You Know? Picon Punch, a traditional Basque cocktail, is a local favorite in Winnemucca. The 1863 Winnemucca Hotel and the 1898 Martin Hotel both serve the punch along with traditional Basque cuisine. And every June, the town gathers to celebrate the heritage of these immigrants from Spain and France who frequently became sheepherders.
You’ve Got to See: Humboldt Museum, where you can learn about the Wild Bunch’s September 1900 bank robbery; Buckaroo Hall of Fame; 1863 Winnemucca Hotel; 1898 Martin Hotel; near 1865 Camp McGarry and 1866 Camp Winfield Scott; Ranch Hand Rodeo on March 3-7, photography symposium Shooting the West XXII on March 10-14, Winnemucca Basque Festival on June 12-13 and Buckaroo Heritage Western Art Round-Up held Labor Day weekend.
Inside Skinny: Best cowboy bar is Paradise Saloon, which is well worth the 40-minute drive northwest of town.
Did You Know? “Candy Pete” Cero? Work with the railroads first lured this Greek sailor to Wichita in 1883. Yet, two years later, he would open his candymaking shop. Specializing in chocolate, Cero’s still can be found on East Kellogg.
You’ve Got to See: Relive Wichita’s Old West from 1865-80 at the Old Cowtown Museum, which also offers a Diamond W Chuckwagon Supper; Mid-America All-Indian Center (annual powwow held July 31-August 1); Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum in 1892 City Hall; Wichita Art Museum; 1922 Orpheum atmospheric theatre; headquarters of Sheplers, Western Wear chain founded here in 1899; public art tour at Botanica (includes Chisholm Trail and Carrie Nation markers); Club Rodeo with indoor bullriding arena; near Chisholm Trail town of Newton; near Arkansas City, hosting Cowley County Heritage Days on April 17-18; Wichita River Festival on May 7-15 (don’t miss the Wichita Wagonmasters float in the parade) near Prairie Rose Ranch and its chuckwagon supper; Mosley Street Melodrama Dinner Theatre offers Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral gunfight on November 11-December 30.
Inside Skinny: Watermark West Rare Books specializes in Kansas and American West history. For eats, check out Old Town Wichita with its brick-lined streets (even an old-school gas station, Ross’s Pump House, is a hot spot for lunch with the locals).
Did You Know? Coffeyville set the record for the heaviest hail that fell in the U.S. in 1970 when a 17.5-inch hail weighing 1.67 pounds—similar in size to acantaloupe— fell with an impact of 100 miles per hour. Gun editor Phil Spangenberger tells us how that hail might have compared to the “hail of bullets” spewed during the Dalton Gang shoot-out in 1892: “Bullets from both sides could have easily been flying around at a speed of something like 800 to 950 miles per hour. I wouldn’t want to be hit by either those 1.67-pound hailstones or a bullet.”
You’ve Got to See: Old Condon Bank site of the 1892 Dalton Raid, a plan to rob two banks that was foiled by local citizens (in 1871 Perkins building); Dalton Defenders Museum; historical murals; 1906 Brown Mansion housing Coffeyville Historical Society; jail plus “Death Alley” where some of the outlaws died; Elmwood Cemetery (last resting spot of four of the five members of the Dalton Gang); Dalton Defenders Days re-enacts the shoot-out on October 2-3.
Inside Skinny: Steps away from the Dalton brothers’ last robbery is a good place to grab a bite to eat: the Tavern on the Plaza in a restored 1872 building.
ST. JOSEPH, MO
Did You Know?The first ready-mix food to be sold commercially was Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, introduced in St. Joseph in 1890.
You’ve Got to See: The original headquarters of the 1860 Pony Express and the hotel where Jesse James’s family stayed after his murder in 1882 are encapsulated at the transportation museum, Patee House Museum; Jesse James Home Museum (where he was killed); Pony Express Museum (home to the Pikes Peak Stables); Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art; Glore Psychiatric Museum; St. Joseph Black Archives; 1879 Wyeth-Tootle Mansion; 1873 Buchanan County Courthouse; 1851 Mount Mora Cemetery; 1849 Robidoux Row built by founder of St. Joseph; Pony Express Sesquicentennial kicks off on April 1-3 and the Reride culminates here on June 26, and Trails West! art festival is held August 20-22.
Inside Skinny: Locals tell us the best steaks in St. Joe are found at the 1898 Old Hoof and Horn Steakhouse, rebuilt after a 2007 fire. The pictures from the cattle driving days, thankfully, were saved from the fire and are back on the walls. The HiHo Bar is a great local hangout for hooking up.
Did You Know? The world’s largest rose bush was planted in Tombstone in 1885. With a trunk that is six-feet in diameter and 8,000 square feet of trellis, roughly 150 people could find shelter under the canopy formed by its branches.
You’ve Got to See: Daily re-enactments of the 1881 Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral between the Earp Gang and the Clantons at the O.K. Corral & Historama; Old Tombstone Tours; Old Butterfield Stagecoach Tour of Tombstone; Six Gun City Gunfight Show; 1882 Crystal Palace Saloon; 1882 Tombstone Courthouse; 1878 Boot Hill Graveyard; 1881 Bird Cage Theatre; 1881 Schieffelin Hall; 1882 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; 1880 Tombstone Epitaph Museum; Pioneer Home Museum; Rose Tree Inn Museum; Good Enough Mine Underground Tour; Big Iron Shooting Gallery; near Old Tucson Studios in Tucson; Old West Founders Days on April 9-11, Wyatt Earp Days on May 29-31, Tombstone Vigilante Days on August 6-8, Rendezvous of the Gunfighters on September 4-6, True West’s Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride on October 10-15, including Tombstone’s oldest festival Helldorado Days on October 15-17 and Clanton Days on November 11-13.
Inside Skinny: Tombstone Old West Books on Allen Street specializes in Cochise County history and all things Western. Excellent bookstore. Also, check out the local hangout, O.K. Cafe.
Did You Know? A schoolteacher in Tacoma, Washington, 20-year-old Evelyn Fay Fuller, climbed Mount Rainier on August 11, 1890.
You’ve Got to See: Discovered by Charles Wilkes in 1841 and turned into a public park in 1888, Point Defiance Park offers the 1833 Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, 1895 Rose Garden, 1898 Lodge (park superintendent’s home) and the Camp 6 Logging Museum with logging train rides April 3 through September 26; 1887-1901 Browns Point Lighthouse Park; 1889 Chinaberry Hill Inn; Job Carr Cabin Museum; Children’s Museum of Tacoma; Working Waterfront Maritime Museum; Washington State History Museum, Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum, linked by Chihuly Bridge of Glass and 1911 Tacoma Union Station; near Mount Rainier National Park, Pioneer Farm Museum & Ohop Indian Village, Northwest Trek’s naturalist-guided tram tour in Eatonville and Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad in Elbe; Brigade Encampment held at Fort Nisqually on August 7-8.
Inside Skinny: Kids get a kick out of the classes at Fort Nisqually. “Make Your Own Housewife”—housewife is a 19th-century pocket sewing kit— “How to be a Carpet Bagger” and “History Detective Training” are a few planned for Winter 2010.
Did You Know? Most in Scottsdale know DC Ranch as a luxury community developed in the 1990s, yet the land it sits on was actually once a ranch. Dr. W.B. Crosby registered the DC cattle brand in 1885. In 1901, E.O. Brown purchased the brand and claimed this land for his 43,000-acre ranch. The last cattle drive from DC Ranch to the Phoenix railhead took place in the 1950s.
You’ve Got to See: Old Town Scottsdale offers American Indian galleries, outdoor sculptures and contemporary and Western art, with free Art Walk every Thursday night; Scottsdale Historical Museum in the 1910 Little Red Schoolhouse; Heard Museum North; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West; learn ranch skills at Arizona Cowboy College; McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park with 1895 Peoria depot, 1905 Aguila depot and 1930s Maricopa depot; hot air balloon trips over the Sonoran desert; near True West headquarters in Cave Creek/Carefree; Festival of the West on March 18-21, Yavapai Nation’s Native Trails free festivals at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall through April 10 and February brings SASS Winter Range, Arabian Horse Show and Parada del Sol Pro-Rodeo & Parade.
Inside Skinny: Be sure to check out Main Street in Old Town for great Western art, especially Arizona West Galleries, with its wonderful artworks, antique saddles, gunbelts and books—tell Greg and Abe Hays hello from us. Several doors down is legendary Guidon Books, where you’ll find anything and everything on Western outlaws and the Civil War.
Did You Know? Liberty is the site of the nation’s first daytime bank robbery during peacetime, which took place in 1866. Tradition states that it was the first bank robbery committed by outlaws Frank and Jesse James.
You’ve Got to See: Liberty Jail that held Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith from 1838-39; Jesse James Bank Museum; Clay County Museum; 1849 William Jewell College (cofounded by Jesse James’s father); Dougherty-Prospect Heights Historic District; check out the Jesse James Festival in nearby Kearney on September 10-19.
Inside Skinny: If you want to dress like they did in 1999’s Ride With the Devil, check out the period clothing and other historically-accurate goods at James Country Mercantile.
Did You Know? Since 1980, locals have gathered in Deming, New Mexico, in August to race their ducks, dress up as the fowl for a beauty contest, see how far they can throw a tortilla (record so far is 322 feet) and, our favorite, participate in an outhouse race. The townsfolk build their own outhouses that most haul on trike rickshaws.
You’ve Got to See: Military, ranching and Indian artifacts at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum and across the street, 1889 Customs House; 1886 Tea Pot Dome; 1893 Old Deming National Bank; 1910 Luna County Courthouse; Pancho Villa park on site of Camp Furlong; look for gems in Rockhound park; state’s largest winery at St. Clair Vineyards; 1870 Shakespeare ghost town in nearby Lordsburg; 1865 Fort Selden (home of the Buffalo Soldiers) in nearby Radium Springs; near the site of Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid in Columbus.
Did You Know? Since 1971, the state’s official neckwear has been the bolo tie. Thanks to his hat blowing off during a trail ride, Vic Cedarstaff, a silversmith in Wickenburg, is credited with inventing the bolo tie in 1949. During the ride, he did not want to lose his silver-trimmed hatband as well, so he tied it around his neck. His friend jokingly complimented him on the tie, so Cedarstaff worked on it and patented his slide design.
You’ve Got to See: Explore Vulture City and the 1863 Vulture Mine discovered by founder Henry Wickenburg; Desert Caballeros Western Museum (also hosts the Cowgirl Up! art show from March 26 through May 2); Hassayampa River Preserve; 1871 Wickenburg Massacre Monument; Gold Nugget Art Gallery in town’s oldest building, dating to 1863; Hassayampa building (formerly 1905 Vernetta Hotel); 1895 depot housing the Chamber of Commerce; Desert Caballeros 50th Anniversary celebration on April 10, Fiesta de Septiembre on September 4 and every February, Gold Rush Days & Rodeo and Southwest Leatherworkers Trade Show.
Inside Skinny: Desert Caballeros offers a special exhibit of early 20th-century Arizona postcards showing through September 12. The show goes nicely with the museum’s re-created early Arizona street scene and period rooms.
Did You Know? In celebration of the 125th anniversary of Kansas’s statehood, Larry Miller’s sixth grade class in Caldwell convinced Gov. John Carlin to name the ornate box turtle as the state reptile in 1986.
You’ve Got to See: Ghost Riders of the Chisholm Trail silhouettes memorializing cattle drives on this trail that first started herding dogies in 1867; Cherokee Strip Visitors Center & Border Queen Museum; historical markers in Cowtown historic district including ones designating the 1881 Talbot Gang Shoot-out and the Legend of Mount Lookout; Chisholm Trail Festival on May 7-8.
Inside Skinny: Local cowboys head to Last Chance Bar & Grill. Check out the vintage tin ceiling.
Did You Know? North of Taos, about 150 Tiwa residents still live within the multi-storied Taos Pueblo, which has been continuously occupied for at least 650 years and was likely built between 1000 and 1450 AD. These pueblo homes feature no electricity or indoor plumbing, and the residents rely on water from a river that flows through the village from the tribe’s sacred Blue Lake.
You’ve Got to See: The three-room Kit Carson home (now a museum) was likely built in 1825 as a wedding gift for the fur trapper, scout and soldier, and his Indian wife, plus visit his grave site at the Kit Carson Cemetery; Old Glory flag still flies at the Taos Plaza (first flown in 1846, then put on flagpole to keep from being torn down in 1861); 1772-1815 San Francisco de Asis Church at Ranchos de Taos; 1804 Hacienda de los Martinez; Taos Society artist E.L. Blumenschein’s 1919-31 home; Millicent Rogers Museum; 1936 Taos Inn (where Wild West showman Pawnee Bill might have slept) Old Spanish National Historic Trail (plus interpretation of Camino Real Trail); Taos Festival of Art & Architecture on June 3-13 is part of a year-long look at the city’s sacred places, Taos Pueblo Pow Wow on July 9-11 and “Days of 1895” Pioneer Days, in nearby Red River, on October 1-3.
Inside Skinny: Housed in the 1859 Maxwell home, Robert L. Parsons Fine Art offers paintings by Ernest L. Blumenschein to collectors. Or, sip “Cowboy Buddha” margaritas in the Adobe Bar—part of the historic Taos Inn where Pawnee Bill once rubbed elbows with locals.
Did You Know? Sisters, Oregon, is named for the three volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range that Oregon Trail settlers called the Three Sisters. The 1851 Thomas Clark wagon train party had been advised by the 1845 Stephen Meek party to seek out the Three Sisters, while the 1853 Elijah Eliott Cutoff Party mistook the Three Sisters for the Diamond Peak landmark that was to mark the new trail. Luckily, a rescue party reached the lost wagon train party later that year.
You’ve Got to See: Camp Polk Reserve, an 1865 military encampment; Len Gratteri’s Old West Collectibles & Books; Bronco Billy’s Ranch Grill & Saloon in the 1912 Hotel Sisters building; llamas at Hinterland Ranch; 1905 headquarters of the Black Butte Land & Cattle Company at Long Hollow Ranch; hike Black Butte’s extinct volcano; horseback rides on the Sisters Community Trails; near Deschutes National Forest and 1862 gold ghost town of Shaniko; Sisters Rodeo held on June 11-13.
Inside Skinny: At Baldwin’s Custom Hat Co., resident custom hatmaker Gene Baldwin crafts felt cowboy hats from 1800s hatmaking equipment.
THE DALLES, OR
Did You Know? From 1843-45, Oregon Trail pioneers who reached The Dalles, Oregon, had to float west on the Columbia River toward Fort Vancouver and Oregon City. Many either bought a raft of pine logs from local Indians or they rented a bateaux from the Hudson’s Bay Company. When Sam Barlow and Philip Foster opened up their Barlow Road in 1846, pioneers finally had a passable road route.
You’ve Got to See: Oregon’s oldest history museum, 1856 Fort Dalles Museum, plus 1895 Anderson Homestead; state’s oldest bookstore, 1870 Klindt’s Booksellers; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Wasco County Historical Museum; Talking Murals downtown tour available at the Chamber of Commerce; Dalles-Dash geocache hunt; 1876 Baldwin Saloon with back bar; 1897 St. Peter’s Landmark church; 1859 Wasco County Courthouse; Lewis & Clark Trail; Fort Dalles Days & Rodeo on July 8-18.
Inside Skinny: For comfort food, stop at Cousins restaurant. Western artist Jeff Prechtel of Creswell, Oregon, tells us the Marionberry Pancakes and Western Omelettes are “out of this world.” Then quaff a pint of Dead Guy Ale at Clock Tower Ales, located in the 1881 second Wasco County Courthouse.
LONE PINE, CA
Did You Know? “Nobody Loves a Fat Man” was the tagline for Fatty Arbuckle’s first feature-length film, the 1920 Western The Round-Up. Thanks to Director George Melford’s cinematic eye, he would bring the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California, into movie history. The bouldery granite formations have been seen in more than 350 movies, TV shows and commercials featuring stars such as Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, Tom Mix, Jack Elam, Roy Rogers, Yakima Canutt and Clint Eastwood.
You’ve Got to See: Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History takes you through the Westerns filmed in the nearby Alabama Hills; Lone Ranger ambush canyon and Movie Flats Road are some of the Alabama Hills movie sites (for more, check out our TWMag.com article “Back Trail to the Reel West”); Lone Pine Movie Room with movie location map at the Chamber of Commerce; Wild Wild West Marathon through the Alabama Hills and to foothills of Mount Whitney on May 1, and Lone Pine Film Festival on October 8-10.
Inside Skinny: Full Disclosure: The Double L Bar is the only bar in Lone Pine, however, the conversations with the locals can be priceless.
KANSAS CITY, MO
Did You Know? Kansas City built its first outdoor fountain in 1899, with the hope of someday rivaling the fountains in Rome. Its more than 200 fountains has not topped Rome’s (estimated at more than 2,000 today). Yet the city has earned its moniker “City of Fountains” because it is home to more outdoor fountains than any other city in the nation.
You’ve Got to See: The 1853 Steamboat Arabia Museum, sharing the boat’s artifacts dug up out of a cornfield; Pony Express cofounder Alexander Majors Historic House & Museum; Line Creek Archaeology Museum; 1827 Log Courthouse, 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home and Museum and the National Frontier Trails Museum in nearby Independence; near 1808 Fort Osage replica in Sibley, and living history museum Missouri Town 1855 in Lee’s Summit.
Inside Skinny: With five floors of rare Western Americana books, old maps and fine art, Spivey’s is the place for you—plus, its location on Westport Road is smack dab on the Santa Fe Trail.
Did You Know? Colonel James L.L.F. Warren introduced the Camellia flower to Sacramento in 1852. Warren played such an integral role in the state’s agriculture that the store he opened during the 1849 Gold Rush served as the “Agricultural Hall” for the first California State Fair.
You’ve Got to See: Old Sacramento’s new underground tours of its historic district opening this summer, plus California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento History Museum, Schoolhouse Museum and Wells Fargo History Museum; 1841 Sutter’s Fort park; California State Indian Museum; 1856-72 Gov. Leland Stanford Mansion; Pony Express 150th Anniversary starts June 7, Gold Rush Days on September 4-6 and Sutter’s Fort River Trip to 1840s fur trapping camp each October.
Inside Skinny: Your best bet for locating California Gold Rush memorabilia and period art is the Gallery of the American West in Old Sacramento.
Did You Know? Some Guthrie locals like to say that Oklahoma’s first capital city was stolen from them. The legend goes that, in the middle of the night, of June 11, 1910, the state seal was snatched from the Logan County Courthouse and moved to Oklahoma City. In reality, an election was held on June 11 for where the state capital should be: Guthrie received 31,301 votes to Oklahoma City’s 96,261 votes. The governor ordered his secretary to pick up the seal and deliver it, which he did, with the full knowledge of the courthouse clerk.
You’ve Got to See: The 89er Celebration, held April 20-24, commemorates Harrison’s Hoss Race that started this burg; First Capital Trolley tours and horse-drawn carriage rides of historic district; Oklahoma Territorial Museum; 1902 State Capital Publishing Museum; Frontier Drugstore Museum; rodeo and cowboy mounted shooting events at Lazy E Arena (includes National Finals Steer Roping on November 5-6).
Inside Skinny: Hit the bar at the 1899 Blue Belle Saloon, where actor Tom Mix used to pour drinks. Here, you can wash down a pretty good burger or steak with a cold one. And check out those custom boots made by local Lisa Sorrell; they’re works of art.
Did You Know? Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh, the pilot of the first trans-Atlantic non-stop flight, first learned to fly in Lincoln, Nebraska. The location of the flying field where he received his instruction in 1922 is marked by a plaque at 20th & High Streets.
You’ve Got to See: Christlieb Collection of Western Art at the Great Plains Art Museum on the University of Nebraska campus; Nebraska History Museum; Nebraska State Historical Society Library & Archives; Fairview, the 1902 home of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan; 1869 Thomas P. Kennard House; state’s largest equine event, Nebraska Horse Expo, on March 12-14.
Inside Skinny: Pick up some kolaches (a Slovak pastry) and jams at the farmer’s market, held from May through October, at the 1867 Haymarket District.
SANTA CLARITA, CA
Did You Know? Silent cowboy movie star William S. Hart’s ranch near Santa Clarita is open for tours. His Spanish Colonial Revival-style mansion contains Western art, Hollywood mementos and American Indian artifacts. Free tours are held from Labor Day to mid-June.
You’ve Got to See: Vasquez Rocks, the alleged hideout of outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, and site of countless Westerns; Placerita Canyon’s Oak of the Golden Dream, which some credit as the site of California’s first gold discovery in 1842; 1880s oil boom town of Mentryville; Tesoro Adobe, former home of film actor Harry Carey Sr., in Valencia; William S. Hart Ranch & Museum in Newhall, plus Heritage Junction, the headquarters for Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society; 1887 Saugus train depot in Newhall; Melody Ranch’s Western movie set in Newhall, with the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at Melody Ranch on April 22-25.
Inside Skinny: Enjoy homemade pies and malts at the 1887-91 Saugus Café, where actors John Wayne and Tom Mix once ate.
DODGE CITY, KS
Did You Know? The CBS series Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City, but it was not filmed in the Kansas burg. It was mostly filmed on Hollywood sets, although the cast did venture out to Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, California.
You’ve Got to See: Boot Hill Museum, with its 1872-78 cemetery and the Long Branch Saloon (check out the Old West variety show); recently-opened Boot Hill Casino & Resort; 1873 Dodge House Hotel; Dodge City Trail of Fame walking tour of historic downtown (including a statue of Assistant City Marshal Wyatt Earp); Kansas Heritage Center; Gunfighters Wax Museum; 1865 Fort Dodge walking tour at Kansas Soldier’s Home; 1883 Soule Ditch; Santa Fe Trail ruts nine miles west of town on U.S. 50; Historic Trolley Tours available from Memorial Day to Labor Day; near the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade (Dalton Days Wild West Fest on June 26-27); Dodge City Days on July 30-August 8, Dodge City Roundup Rodeo on August 4-8 and Gunsmoke’s 55th anniversary celebration held on September 3-4.
Inside Skinny: Local cowboy bar known for its steak is Casey’s Cowtown Club. (Don’t forget to order the calf fries.)
Did You Know? The birthplace of Jesse James is near present-day Kearney, Missouri. The outlaw was born on September 5, 1847. You can still visit the farm where he and his older brother Frank were raised.
You’ve Got to See: The James Farm where Frank and Jesse grew up; Mount Olivet Cemetery (final resting place of Jesse); Muddy Fork Cemetery (grave site of James-Younger Gang member Clell Miller); Kearney Historic Museum; America’s only surviving 1860s mill, at Watkins Woolen Mill park in nearby Lawson; Jesse James Festival takes place during September 10-19.
Inside Skinny: Kearney offers more than just steaks and barbecue. Case in point: those hand-rolled cheese sticks at Gino’s Italian Cuisine. Before visiting the only surviving 1860s woolen mill, be fore-warned: it’s brutally hot in the summer.
NORTH PLATTE, NE
Did You Know? Known as a classification yard, Bailey Yard, in North Platte, is considered to be the world’s largest. Owned and operated by the Union Pacific, Bailey Yard now offers a visitor’s center, the Golden Spike Tower.
You’ve Got to See: The Wild West showman’s residence, the 1886 Scout’s Rest Ranch, at Buffalo Bill Ranch park; 1873 Fort McPherson cemetery; Lincoln County Historical Museum; Cody Park Railroad Museum; Fort Cody Trading Post with mini Wild West show; Golden Spike Tower; Pony Express sites in nearby Gothenburg; Dancing Leaf Cultural Learning Center in nearby Wellfleet; NEBRASKAland Days on June 12-20 & 24-26, plus Buffalo Bill Rodeo on June 16-19, Rail Fest on Sept. 17-19 and Grand Duke Alexis Rendezvous in nearby Hayes Center on Sept. 24-26.
Inside Skinny: After touring Scout’s Rest, hit I-80 west for 30 minutes to Paxton, home of Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge, which has been serving cocktails since 12:01 a.m. August 9, 1933—the year prohibition ended.
Did You Know? Most of the state of Nevada is desert but the Ruby Mountains near Elko, Nevada, and the Sierra Nevada Mountain range near Reno both offer dry powder snow in the winter. No wonder Elko holds its National Cowboy Poetry Gathering inside—it could be winter wonderland outside in January!
You’ve Got to See: Western Folklife Center, plus its exhibits in the 1913 Pioneer Hotel building and a saloon with an 1890 back bar; Sherman Station (housing the Chamber of Commerce) and the 1880-1903 Walther Homestead complex; California Trail Interpretive Center; Northeastern Nevada Museum; near the ghost town of Jiggs, an 1870s ranch supply center; California Trail Days on May 28-29, Silver State Stampede Rodeo on July 8-10 and National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held every January.
Inside Skinny: Biltoki Basque Restaurant’s food was so great, Western Photographer Jay Dusard had supper there twiceduring this year’s Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He says the beef tongue is sensational.
Did You Know? On February 14, 1884, the ladies of Eureka invited their beaus to attend a Leap Year Ball at the Eureka Opera House, where you can still attend parties and watch performances today. The Valentine’s Day supper was served at the Jackson House, built in 1877, and this historic business still offers guests a place to sleep (take a gander at the restored dining room and cherrywood back bar).
You’ve Got to See: The Pony Express and Overland Stage stations as you head into town (e.g. Deep Creek Station between Salt Lake and Roberts Creek); Ruby Hill Mine on Battle Mountain; self-guided history tour includes the 1880 Eureka Opera House (Sourdough Slim yodels here on April 16), 1880 Eureka County Courthouse, 1877 Jackson House Hotel, 1879 Eureka Sentinel Newspaper Museum and 1864 Tannehill Cabin; Crescent Valley Founder’s Day on April 10, and bike the Pony Express Trail via Hwy. 50 during OATBRAN on September 26 to October 2.
Inside Skinny: Trophy wildlife hang from the walls in the 1887 Raine’s Market, where you can purchase groceries and supplies.
Did You Know? The Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant in Amarillo, Texas, offers a 72-ounce steak for free—if you can eat the entire meal within an hour. The rest of the chow you have to consume is a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and a roll with butter.
You’ve Got to See: Palo Duro Canyon park, where Charles Goodnight established his JA Ranch in 1876 (jeep tours offered by Elkins Ranch); Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (which houses the JA Ranch records and Goodnight papers); city’s first historic district, Amarillo’s Route 66, offers restaurants and shops; Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum; Amarillo Museum of Art; American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum; nearby Alibates Flint Quarries with Plains Indian ruins; rodeo and mounted shooting events at Amarillo National Center; AQHA Art of the Western Saddle through July 31, and WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo on November 11-14.
Inside Skinny: Ride your American Quarter Horse often? Register and log your hours at the AQHA Museum, and you can earn awards sponsored by Drysdales Western Store.
FORT WORTH, TX
Did You Know? Billy Bob’s sold more than 16,000 bottles of beers during a Hank Williams Jr. concert. We’re not surprised that the world’s largest honky tonk—at 127,000 square feet, nearly three times the size of Gilley’s, the Houston club where Urban Cowboy was filmed—could sell that many brewskis in one night!
You’ve Got to See: White Elephant Saloon, which has moved a few times since its famous 1887 gunfight between Luke Short and Jim Courtright, but it is still open; Fort Worth Stockyards offers the Stockyards Station Walking Tours, Billy Bob’s Texas, Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and Grapevine Vintage Railroad; Western history and art is available at Amon Carter Museum, National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, Sid Richardson Museum and Cattle Raisers Museum; 1850 Pioneer Rest Cemetery; nearby Hueco Tanks, a Butterfield Trail stage stop; Texas Gun Collectors Show on April 23-25 and October 15-17, Frontier Forts Days at Stockyards on May 7-8 and Red Steagall’s 20th Annual Cowboy Gathering takes place October 22-24.
Inside Skinny: Reata Restaurant looks like it comes straight out of Edna Ferber’s novel Giant or the George Stevens movie with James Dean, but this restaurant is no tourist trap. The food’s killer, and that Jalapeno and Cilantro Soup is to die for.
Did You Know? A freight agent for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad is the namesake of Edmond, which served as a supply stop to fuel the steam engines.
You’ve Got to See: This Route 66 town offers tours of the state’s longest, continuously-operated newspaper, the 1889 Edmond Evening Sun; Edmond Historical Society Museum, plus 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse; 1895 Gracelawn Cemetery; Arcadian Inn B&B in 1910 Dr. Ruhl home; near Old West towns of Guthrie and Oklahoma City, with its National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Frontier City Theme Park (offers a Wild West stunt show); celebrating its 100th year as the state’s largest 4th of July parade at Liberty Fest from June 26 through July 10.
Inside Skinny: While staying at Arcadian Inn, read Stan Hoig’s book Edmond: The Early Years to find out more about Dr. Ruhl, who first came here in 1895.
GREAT FALLS, MT
Did You Know? The Great Falls region offers Eagle Watching along the Continental Divide. The Rocky Mountain Front Eagle Migration Area west of Great Falls is part of a spring migration route of golden eagles and some bald eagles, with March as the best month to view them. The most eagles observed in North America in a single day were sighted here.
You’ve Got to See: Offering breathtaking views of the Missouri River, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center shares the 1804-06 expedition; Great Falls Historic Trolley Tours; C.M. Russell Museum in the cowboy artist’s 1900 home and 1903 log cabin studio (art sale on March 17-20); Falls of the Missouri where Lewis and Clark walked; 1903 Cascade County Courthouse; Montana Cowboy Association’s Museum and Bar; Cascade County Historical Society’s History Museum; Children’s Museum of Montana; 1891 Collins Mansion B&B; near First Peoples Buffalo Jump park in Ulm; March in Montana on March 18-20, Native American Art Show on March 18-21 and Lewis and Clark Festival on June 25-27.
Inside Skinny: Just outside of town is the Highland Cemetery, where Charlie and Nancy Russell are buried, and where you can also still see the traces of the swales where the buffalo came through the area.
Did You Know? Kanab is known as Utah’s “Little Hollywood.” Some of the Westerns shot there include: 1957’s The Dalton Girls, 1966’s Duel at Diablo, 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales and the 1977 miniseries How the West was Won.
You’ve Got to See: Paria Movie Set (some episodes of Gunsmoke shot here); Frontier Movie Town (buildings used in Outlaw Josey Wales); 1931’s Parry Lodge, where the movie stars slept; Coral Pink Sand Dunes park with petroglyphs; Moqui Cave, a natural history museum; Heritage House & Heritage Museum; Kaibab National Forest; Western Legends Roundup and Western Film Festival on August 25-28.
Inside Skinny: After walking around “Little Hollywood,” top off your evening on the front porch of the Rocking V Café. Chet Rollins of Riverton, Utah, recommends the Southwestern Fish Tacos or a Buffalo Filet, coupled with a brew from the nearby Zion Canyon Brewing Company.
LE CLAIRE, IA
Did You Know?In 1846, the same year that Iowa became the 29th state, William F. Cody was born in a log cabin near LeClaire. He’d grow up to become the famous Wild West showman Buffalo Bill.
You’ve Got to See: Mississippi River narrated rides offered by Great River Tours; a two-day cruise on the Twilight Riverboat, a replica Victorian steamboat; 1874 farmhouse at the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead; Buffalo Bill Museum, plus the 1869 Lone Star steamer; self-guided tour of river pilot homes dating between 1850-70 in the Cody Road historic district available at the Chamber of Commerce.
Inside Skinny: The “world famous Human Tug of War across the Mississippi” is held right here in Le Claire on August 12-14.
ELK CITY, OK
Did You Know? The Oklahoma town of Crowe tried to change its name to Busch, to entice Adolphus Busch into building a brewery there. When the name was defeated, the townspeople settled on Elk City, after the town’s Elk Creek.
You’ve Got to See: The Old Town Museum Complex is a hot bed of activity with the National Route 66 Museum (takes you through all eight states on the route), Transportation Museum and Farm & Ranch Museum; Ackley Park’s Centennial Carousel; 1907 Ten-K building; Route 66 Days on June 3-6, and PRCA Rodeo of Champions at Beutler Brothers Rodeo Arena every Labor Day weekend.
Inside Skinny: Restaurants are slim in this area, but any place that calls itself the Hog Trough, you gotta try. Locals get their fill of barbecue here. Be sure to ask for Missy.
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Did You Know? It is illegal to urinate on the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Why was this law made? Ozzy Osbourne, best known as the lead singer of Black Sabbath, urinated on this famous 1836 battle site after his concert in 1982.
His disrespectful act so infuriated Texans that this law passed, and the rocker was banned from performing in the city for a decade.
You’ve Got to See: Visit the home of Jose Antonio Navarro, a native-born Texan who signed the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence; 1724 Alamo Mission; 1749 Spanish Governor’s Palace; 1755 San Fernando Cathedral; 1859 Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders; 1845 Fort Sam Houston Museum; 1881 Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, plus Texas Ranger Museum; 1876 Steves Homestead Museum; San Antonio Museum of Art in 1884 brewery building; Briscoe Western Art Museum; Museo Alamedo; Witte Museum; King William, the state’s first historic district; Ghosts & Legends of San Antonio Tour by Silverghost Tours; Natural Bridge Caverns; on the Old Spanish Trail; Enchanted Springs Ranch frontier town in nearby Boerne; Remember the Alamo festival on March 6-7, Fiesta San Antonio! (held since 1891) on April 15-25, Juneteenth on June 19 and San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo held every February.
Inside Skinny: Sick of Texas barbecue, chicken-fried steaks and greasy Tex-Mex enchiladas? For more than 40 years, locals have feasted on great Italian fare, such as shrimp paesano and osso bucco, at Paesanos. For serious Texas art, the go-to gallery is Marshall’s Brocante in the historic Monte Vista part of town.
Did You Know? Nellie Johnstone, the namesake of the state’s first commercial oil well that got its start on April 15, 1897, donated the land to the city in 1917. Today, you’ll find a replica of the derrick in Johnstone Park.
You’ve Got to See: The 1909 Frank Phillips Home, at the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, offers the oilman’s art collection; Johnstone Park; Bartlesville Area History Museum; Spring Traders Encampment on April 9-11, Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival on Sept. 17-19 at Bartlesville Community Center, Western Heritage Weekend with Tom Mix Festival (in Dewey) & Woolaroc Fall Trail Ride on Sept. 18-19 and Fall Traders Encampment, with Cow Thieves & Outlaw Reunion, on October 1-3.
Inside Skinny: Ten minutes away, Dewey pays tribute to its town marshal-turned-movie star at the Tom Mix Museum; plus sip on drugstore sodas while shopping at the antique store Linger Longer, and visit the Prairie Song pioneer village.
FORT DAVIS, TX
Did You Know? The poem “Dolores,” written by Maj. William H. Clapp in 1885, explains the namesake of Dolores Mountain in Fort Davis, Texas. The poem was about Dolores Gavino Doporto who lit fires every night on top of a mountain near Fort Davis; she did so in memory of her fiancee, who was scalped and killed by an Indian. She died herself in 1893.
You’ve Got to See: Learn about the Buffalo Soldiers stationed at 1854 Fort Davis during 1867-85; Davis Mountain Broom Shop; Overland Trail Museum; 1886 H.E. Sproul Ranch; Davis Mountains park; Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens; Overland-Butterfield Mail Route Historic Walking and Driving Tour; starting point for the 75-mile Scenic Loop Drive; near Clay Allison’s Grave and West of the Pecos Museum in Pecos; Museum of the Big Bend in nearby Alpine, with Trappings of Texas held through April 25.
Inside Skinny: Home to Limpia Creek Hats, and visit the Adobe Hacienda art gallery that doubles as a museum.
Did You Know? State law prohibited any statuary on state-owned grounds, so a special law had to be passed to permit a display of Sacagawea. Dedicated in 1910, the statue of the Lewis and Clark interpreter and guide appears on the lawn in front of the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck. It shows Sacagawea with Pomp, the son born to her and Toussaint Charbonneau in 1805 at Fort Mandan (fort replica in Washburn).
You’ve Got to See: Buckstop Junction offers a 20-acre frontier town with tours available mid-June through mid-August; North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, at the entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park; North Dakota State Historical Society’s Heritage Center; Keelboat Park offers a full-scale keelboat like the one Lewis and Clark traveled on, while Steamboat Park replicates the riverboat; museum at 1872 Camp Hancock; Mandan ruins at Double Ditch Indian Village; self-guided tour of Chief Looking’s Village; 1893 Former Governors’ Mansion; nearby Mandan offers the 1872 Fort Abraham Lincoln plus On-a-Slant Village, plus its traditional rodeo on July 2-4; Wild ’n’ Wooly Boots-’n’-Buckles Round up Wing Ding on March 6, and Boy Scouts Centennial Celebration of Scouting on June 4-6.
Inside Skinny: Head to the Peacock Alley bar for spirits. It used to be the former lobby of the 1910 Patterson Hotel.
Did You Know? Although working girls likely came into Deadwood as soon as the men arrived, the first record of prostitutes arriving in the city is with Charlie Utter’s wagon train party in July 1876. Also along for that ride were famed gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok and frontierswoman Calamity Jane.
You’ve Got to See: Saloon No. 10, where Wild Bill Hickok was famously killed while gambling in 1876 (has been re-created near its original location); oldest history museum in the Black Hills at the Adams Museum & House (1892); Days of ’76 Museum; First Gold Hotel & Casino, on the site of the first gold discovery in 1875 Deadwood Gulch; Mount Moriah Cemetery with markers for Hickok, Calamity Jane and Deadwood’s first sheriff Seth Bullock; Tatanka: Story of the Bison Interpretive Center; near Homestake Gold Mine Visitor Center in Lead; Wild Bill Days on June 18-19, and Days of ’76 Rodeo on July 27-31.
Inside Skinny: A popular hangout when it was first built in 1877, the Buffalo Bar is a big hit with locals, now that it has been rebuilt into the Bodega complex that also features a restaurant and casino.
FORT BENTON, MT
Did You Know? The Mandan, a replica of the keelboats used on the Missouri River prior to steamboats, was constructed for the 1952 movie Big Sky and can be viewed in Fort Benton, Montana.
You’ve Got to See: Along the Whoop-Up Trail, visit 1846 Fort Benton, with tours offered mid-May through September; historic district and steamboat levee walking tour; 1882 Grand Union Hotel; Museum of the Upper Missouri; Museum of the Northern Great Plains, plus 1900s homestead and Hornaday/Smithsonian Buffalo & Western Art Gallery; Museum of the Upper Missouri; Upper Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center; Overholser Historical Research Center; Mullan Road 150th Anniversary conference on May 20-22.
Inside Skinny: The Hornaday’s Western Art Gallery exhibits art by 19th-century artists such as John Mix Stanley. Stanley took the first visual image we have of Fort Benton (unfortunately that daguerreotype burned in a fire), but the museum does have his oil painting of Fort Benton founder Alexander Culbertson.
FORT PIERRE, SD
Did You Know? If not for Frederick Behman’s 1854 watercolor of Chouteau’s American Fur Company’s Fort Pierre, the U.S. Army might not have purchased the fort. The lack of nearby timber or fuel, the decaying buildings and a poor river landing would result in the troops abandoning the fort after only one winter. Yet across the Missouri River, the town of Pierre, South Dakota, would be settled in 1880. Fort Pierre and Pierre are the state’s oldest settlements.
You’ve Got to See: Verendrye Museum, which has been keeping the Deadwood Trail alive via trail rides and exhibits; site of 1832 Pierre Chouteau Jr.’s fur trading post; Lilly Park, where Lewis & Clark held their first meeting with the Sioux in 1804; canoe explorations of the city offered by Steamboat’s Inc.; buffalo at the Triple U Buffalo Ranch (site of Dances With Wolves); South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center; stop on the Native American Scenic Byway; Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, with Match of Champions held every June.
Inside Skinny: Dave Dahl’s Diamond D Western Wear & Saddle Shop is the place to talk shop with the locals. Dahl builds seven to eight bronc saddles that wind up in the National Rodeo Finals every year, cowboy Mike Pellerzi of Canning, South Dakota, tells us.
Did You Know? The namesake of this Wyoming valley is supposedly mountain man David Jackson, who spent his winter in 1829 here. His fur trading partner William Sublette referred to the valley along the Snake River surrounded by the Teton Mountains as Jackson’s Hole. Incidentally, “Les Trois Tetons” were so named by French Canadian trappers.
You’ve Got to See: Lewis & Clark 1805 river crossing at Snake River, which you can travel via raft; year-round National Elk Refuge, which also offers winter sleigh rides; National Museum of Wildlife Art; Jackson Hole Historical Society Museum; John Colter memorial at George Washington Memorial Park; near Grand Teton National Park; Elkfest on May 22-23, Mountain Man Rendezvous on May 22-31, Jackson Hole Old West Days on May 28-31 and True West’s Jeremiah Johnson Ride on August 15-20.
Inside Skinny: Stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where you can sit on barstools made out of saddles and check out the cowboy murals and memorabilia.
Did You Know? Chief Washakie’s Shoshone tribe was allowed to pick the location of their permanent home, and the Indians selected their traditional wintering area and hunting grounds. Washakie signed the treaty in 1868, and the following year, the military post Camp Augur was established to provide protection. Within four years, the Wyoming town site would be known as Lander. The Wind River Reservation is presently the home of Shoshones and Arapahos, and is the nation’s seventh-largest Indian reservation.
You’ve Got to See: Nearby Wind River Reservation offers the Wind River Casino and, at 1869 Fort Washakie (Camp Augur), the grave of Shoshone Chief Washakie and alleged grave of Lewis & Clark guide Sacagawea; Fremont County Pioneer Museum; Museum of the American West; Fremont County Historic Mine Trail; Sinks Canyon park; Shoshone National Forest; 1858 Lander Cutoff Trail, leaving Oregon Trail at nearby South Pass; Pioneer Days Parade & Rodeo on July 3-4, One Shot Antelope Hunt on September 15-18 and Heart of the West Invitational Art Show on October 16.
Inside Skinny: Throughout the summer, you can experience Northern Arapaho heritage through song, dance and storytelling at the Wind River Casino.
Did You Know? The son of a pharmacist, Marion Robert Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 26, 1907. Raoul Walsh, director of the actor’s first starring role in 1930’s The Big Trail, would give the actor the stage name John Wayne. You can still visit his family home in Winterset, restored to its 1907 appearance with exhibits featuring memorabilia from Wayne Westerns.
You’ve Got to See: John Wayne’s Birthplace Museum; scenic drive of 1870s-80s covered bridges (yes, they inspired the novel/movie The Bridges of Madison County); 1874 North River Stone Schoolhouse; 1876 Madison County Courthouse; Madison County Historical Society complex with 1872 train depot, 1881 Zion Church, 1856 limestone barn and 1856 Bevington-Kaser Mansion built by a gold prospector; at Birthplace Museum, John Wayne Birthday & 50th Anniversary of The Alamo celebration on May 28-29.
Inside Skinny: If you want to shake hands with the man who was a friend of the Duke’s, visit the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and ask for Director Brian Downes.
Did You Know? Clutter’s Last Stand is coming to life in Pocatello, Idaho. Don Aslett, author of Clutter’s Last Stand, is currently building his Museum of Clean. When it opens (date not yet announced), the exhibits will include: a horse-drawn street sweeper, the largest antique vacuum cleaner collection in the world and an interactive gallery that teaches kids how to clean their rooms.
You’ve Got to See: Hart Ranch, originally owned by the 1939 Pro-Rodeo Steer Wrestling Champion Harry Hart; Bannock County Historical Museum; replica of the Oregon Trail stop, 1834 Fort Hall; Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum on Fort Hall Reservation; Idaho Museum of Natural History; Old Town walking tour; near Lava Hot Springs; Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo on April 7-10.
Inside Skinny: Rest your cowboy hat at the Green Triangle Bar & Grill after a long day of all things rodeo.
HOT SPRINGS, SD
Did You Know? Hot Springs is home to the largest concentration of Columbian and Woolly Mammoth bones in the world, and the Mammoth Site landmark is America’s only display of fossil mammoths where the bones have been left where they were found.
You’ve Got to See: More than 600 wild mustangs running free at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary; Mammoth Site; Pioneer Museum in 1893 school; 1880 Train in nearby Hill City; Wind Cave National Park; near Crazy Horse Memorial; September offers Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering (24-25) and nearby Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup (27).
Inside Skinny: Black Hills Books & Treasures offers books on the history of the Black Hills region and the overland trails.
Did You Know?At Highway 79 South, between mile markers 115 and 116, in Florence, Arizona, you will find a monument of a two-foot-tall riderless horse, with its head bowed in reverence. The Pinal County Historical Society erected it at the 1940 death site of silent movie star Tom Mix, who died there while driving his convertible. A sudden stop caused his aluminum suitcase to strike the actor in the back of the head, breaking his neck.
You’ve Got to See: Stagecoach outlaw Pearl Hart is among the folks who come alive in the audio tour of historic downtown; “Father of Arizona’s” Pyramid Tomb atop F Butte; McFarland park is closed for renovation of the 1878 courthouse, but visit when it reopens; Pinal County Historical Museum; Junior Parada held Thanksgiving weekend, plus a tour of historic Florence held every February.
Inside Skinny: The L&B Inn makes excellent fruit chimichangas, Tom Smith, the vice mayor of Florence, tells us.We’re not surprised; the L&B has been feeding folks in Florence since stagecoach days.
CRIPPLE CREEK, CO
Did You Know?A Madam’s Funeral: “Pearl De Vere, madam of the ‘Old Homestead,’ died early today from an overdose of morphine,” reported The Cripple Creek Times after hearing she had died on June 5, 1897. Her funeral procession to Mount Pisgah Cemetery included the Elks Band and policemen, followed by carriages carrying women from the brothels. Her wooden headstone rotted by the 1950s, and it was replaced with a marble headstone, where admirers still leave tokens to this day. Her Old Homestead House in Cripple Creek is a museum that shares the town’s brothel history.
You’ve Got to See: Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum (think of Wild Bunch member Bob Lee alias Bob Curry); 1891 Mollie Kathleen Mine gold tour; Mount Pisgah Cemetery; Cripple Creek District Museum with 1895 depot; 1896 Old Homestead House Museum; Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad from mid-May through mid-October, with Lowell Thomas Museum in nearby Victor; Donkey Derby Days on June 26-27, and “Mt. Pisgah Speaks” cemetery tour on September 18.
Inside Skinny: The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine is a good place to score a half-scale ore cart.
Did You Know?Gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok married former circus owner Agnes Lake Thatcher on March 5, 1876 (five months before he was murdered) at the home of a saloon owner that was once located at the site of the city’s First United Methodist Church.
You’ve Got to See: Learn about local history in geocache hunts organized with True West magazine, the Cheyenne CVB and local geocachers; Old Laramie County Courthouse where cattle detective Tom Horn was hanged in 1903; bison tours at Terry Bison Ranch; historic tours by Cheyenne Street Railway from May through September; cellphone audio tours of Nelson Museum of the West, Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, 1887 Cheyenne Depot Museum and 1905 Governors’ Mansion; 1890 Capitol; 1888 Nagle-Warren Mansion B&B; 1911 Plains Hotel; Gunslinger Square re-enactments in June and July; Big Boy Steam Engine in Holliday Park; 1890 Engine 1242 in Cheyenne Botanic Gardens; 1897 Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 23-August 1, and Cheyenne Cowboy Heart of the West on Sept. 3-5.
Inside Skinny: Your best bet for buying cowboy and Indian art is Manitou Galleries (which also has a sister location in Santa Fe, New Mexico).
EL PASO, TX
Did You Know? In a True West article last year, historian Leon Metz revealed that El Paso, Texas, launched the Mexican Revolution. Why? Because “El Paso offered refuge, transportation, weapons, communications, freedom of movement and a sympathetic population of Mexican exiles and American nationals.”
You’ve Got to See: Grave sites of gunfighters John Wesley Hardin and John Selman, Texas Rangers and Buffalo Soldiers at Concordia Cemetery; 1875 Magoffin Home; Old Fort Bliss Museum with 1848 fort replica; Chamizal National Memorial Museum; El Paso County Historical Society research center at Burges House; 1912 Camino Real Hotel; nearby Hueco Tanks, a Butterfield Trail stage stop, and Mission Trail stops, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Socorro Spanish Missions established in 1682; First Thanksgiving Celebration at nearby San Elizario on April 23-25, Ysleta Mission Festival in July TBA, John Wesley Hardin Secret Society Re-enactment on August 19 and Concordia Walk Through History on October 16.
Inside Skinny: Locals love a spicy bowl of Menudo from the Good Luck Café, which goes through 700 pounds of tripe each week!
Did You Know? In its capital city of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation enacted a law that in 1842 spirits would be unlawful within the Nation; this law was far in advance (nearly 80 years early) of the United States in adopting prohibition.
You’ve Got to See: Cherokee Nation’s capital city offers Oklahoma’s oldest public building, the 1844-75 Supreme Court; 1869 capitol; 1875 jail; 1889 Seminary Hall at Northeastern State University; Trail of Tears graves in the Ross Cemetery at 1845 Murrell Home; offers four guided tours: Cherokee History, Cherokee Old Settler, Civil War History and Will Rogers History; near 1824 Fort Gibson replica and Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore; Cherokee Heritage Center, with the outdoor drama “Under the Cherokee Moon” held from June 4 through August 21, and Cherokee National Holiday on September 3-5.
Inside Skinny: The Cherokee Nation listens to Classic Country KTLQ 1350. On Sundays, listen to “Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds.”
COEUR D’ALENE, ID
Did You Know? Wyatt Earp was accused of claim jumping while he was in the Coeur d’Alene region during the short-lived gold rush in 1884. At Eagle City, he and his brother James operated the White Elephant Saloon.
You’ve Got to See: On the North Idaho Centennial Trail, check out statues of 1890 photographer “Leopold” at Higgins Point and “Kate,” a turn-of-the-20th-century bicyclist at Riverstone Park; 1878 Fort Sherman Museum; Museum of North Idaho; Coeur d’Alene Casino hosts its Julyamsh Powwow on July 23-25.
Inside Skinny: If you want to check out the Gold Rush townsite of Eagle City, head to Eagle City Park, near Murray. You can also pan for gold here.
Did You Know? Outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid near here at the “Hole-in-the-Wall” hideout in the Bighorn Mountains of Johnson County.
You’ve Got to See: The 1892 Johnson County War, 1867 Wagon Box Fight and Bozeman Trail (peaked during 1863-68) come to life at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum; 1903 Mansion House Inn built by retired Army surgeon Dr. Howard Lott; 1880 Occidental Hotel; day tours of TA Guest Ranch where Johnson County War came to an end; scenic driving tours include outlaw caves in nearby Kaycee and Crazy Woman Canyon in the Bighorn Mountains; near 1878 Fort McKinney (Wyoming Soldiers and Sailors Home), 1866 Fort Phil Kearny replica and 1876 Dull Knife Battlefield; Chris LeDoux Memorial Park Dedication on June 19 (Kaycee), Big Horn Mountain Music Festival on July 9-11 and Johnson County Fair & Rodeo on August 1-8.
Inside Skinny: Enjoy a tender buffalo steak at the Occidental Hotel’s The Virginian Restaurant, named after Owen Wister’s 1902 classic novel.
Did You Know? Wyatt Earp first met Doc Holliday in nearby Fort Griffin in 1877.
You’ve Got to See: Life-sized figures share the history of Texas from 1780-1880 in a multimedia experience at Frontier Texas!; Texas Forts Trails include 1867 Fort Griffin, 1851 Fort Phantom Hill and 1852 Fort Chadbourne; living history frontier town at Buffalo Gap Historic Village; Grace Museum housed in the 1909 Hotel Grace; the state’s oldest outdoor musical, “Fort Griffin Fandangle,” offers pioneer tales the last two full weekends in June in nearby Albany; Western Heritage Classic (with Working Ranch Horse National Finals) on May 6-8, and West Texas Fair & Rodeo on September 10-18.
Inside Skinny: Our Military Editor Col. (R) Alan C. Huffines tells us Perini Ranch Steakhouse in nearby Buffalo Gap is worth the drive. Its Ranch Burger won best hamburgers on NBC’s Today—is a hangout of actor Robert Duvall and former President George W. Bush (the owner cooked at the White House). In Abilene, you can find what Huffines calls the “best steak in Texas” at the Beehive (named after the infamous Bee Hive Saloon in Fort Griffin, where house gambler Lottie Deno played against Doc Holliday).