Snapshots of Old West History

Snapshots

Our collective American snapshot history began when George Eastman introduced the Kodak camera and roll film in 1888. As the years went on, more and more folks were able to record their favorite memories of their travels.

Nowadays pretty much everyone owns a digital camera, allowing us to preview our photos and make sure they are indeed snapshots worthy of capturing the true richness of our experiences. In this year’s travel feature, we include the most photogenic spots lovers of the Old West are sure to want to capture during their trips. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Eudora Welty put it best: “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”

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Acoma, NM

Old West Claim to Fame: Acoma Pueblo, one of the oldest-continuously inhabited spots in North America, dating to the 12th century.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The street scene of Acoma Pueblo, first famously photographed as a Fred Harvey Company postcard.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Haak’u Museum, where you can see turquoise jewelry, Indian pottery and exhibits sharing Acoma tribal history.

What the Kids Will Love: A lunch of fry bread baked in outdoor horno ovens at the Yaak’a Cafe.

 

Astoria, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: John Jacob Astor’s fur trading party founded Astoria in 1811, making it the first permanent U.S. settlement west of the Rocky Mountains; this year the town will offer numerous bicentennial celebrations! Visit Astoria200.org for the celebration calendar.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 125-feet-high Astoria Column, built in 1926; walk up the 164 steps and see spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Fort Clatsop memorial, where the Lewis & Clark Corps of Explorers stayed for the winter from 1805-06.

What the Kids Will Love: Touring the 18th- and 19th-century replica ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, and cheering on the Chinese Dragon dancers and Chinook drummers at the bicentennial opening event from May 19-22, 2011.

 

Baker City, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: Beginning in 1843, Oregon Trail emigrants fought their way through sagebrush to reach the Powder River; today you can see nearly seven miles of well-preserved Oregon Trail ruts at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Blue Mountains, where prospectors mined after the 1861 discovery of gold in Griffin Gulch.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The restored 1889 Geiser Grand Hotel, originally built as the Warshauer House by local merchants.

What the Kids Will Love: Riding the rails through gold country on the narrow gauge Sumpter Valley Railway, which was built in 1890 to haul logs to a sawmill in Baker City; you’ll be able to see the 1,240-ton gold dredge while in Sumpter.

 

Bandera, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: The earliest map showing Bandera dates to 1815-19 indicating an Apache village north of “Puerta de la Bandera;” the pass went on to serve as a military road for Camp Verde and a cattle trail as part of the Great Western Trail.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Great Western Trail marker at the heritage park; feeder trails that led from the Rio Grande to the trailhead near Bandera took cattle to railheads in Kansas and Nebraska during its peak of 1879-85.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The oldest stone building in Bandera, built in 1855 by P.D. Saner, this much altered structure was used as a courthouse, school, store, funeral home and residence.

What the Kids Will Love: Running-R Ranch, Twin Elm Guest Ranch, Flying L Guest Ranch or any of the dude ranches in Bandera.

 

Billings, MT

Old West Claim to Fame: Nicknamed “Magic City” for the way it “magically” transformed into the largest distribution city in Montana thanks to the Northern Pacific Railway in 1883.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Any of the three rock shelters at Pictograph Cave State Park; be sure to bring your binoculars to get a good look at these ancient etchings!

Historical Site You Must Visit: Gravesite of frontiersman Yellowstone Kelly (1849-1928), buried on Kelly Hill overlooking Yellowstone River and downtown Billings.

What the Kids Will Love: Kids can learn some Northern Cheyenne or Crow words at the Western Heritage Center. They’ll probably get a good laugh out of socks translating to “Rotten Wear.”

 

Boise, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: Fifty miles to the east of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s abandoned fort, the “new” Fort Boise began protecting Oregon Trail emigrants in 1863. (In nearby Parma, you can see a replica of the Old Fort Boise, built in 1834.)

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Idaho State Penitentiary, which housed inmates from 1872-1973, including Diamondfield Jack, a hired gun who served time for murdering sheepherders to keep them off of cattle land.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1871 U.S. Assay Office that was built to valuate the Idaho Territory’s gold output (even though much from the 1860 gold rush was depleted by then) and lead silver.

What the Kids Will Love: Boise Trolley Tours, sharing historical narration in an open-air trolley car.

 

Buffalo, WY

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the 1880 Occidental Hotel, where The Virginian author Owen Wister based his characters on the cowboys and gunslingers he observed in the lobby and saloon.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1903 Mansion House Inn built by retired Army surgeon Dr. Howard Lott.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, where the 1867 Wagon Box Fight and Bozeman Trail come to life.

What the Kids Will Love: The Johnson County Fair & Rodeo held from August 1-7.

 

Cheyenne, WY

Old West Claim to Fame: Former scout and cattle detective Tom Horn, the last man to be legally hanged in Cheyenne, died on November 20, 1903, for killing 14-year-old Willie Nickell.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The world’s largest steam locomotive, the 4004 Big Boy Steam Engine in Holliday Park.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The second floor of the Wyoming Home, where Tom Horn confessed his crime to a U.S. marshal.

What the Kids Will Love: Riding the train to see ostriches and a bison herd at the Terry Bison Ranch.

 

Cimarron, NM

Old West Claim to Fame: Famous watering hole that attracted history’s bad boys: Billy the Kid, Port Stockton, Clay Allison (and his victim Francisco Griego), Chunk Colbert, Black Jack Ketchum and Frank and Jesse James.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1880 St. James Hotel, which grew out of that 1872 watering hole run by Henri Lambert.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1864 Aztec Grist Mill used to sell flour to the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches that closed after an 1875 skirmish between some Apaches and an Indian agent.

What the Kids Will Love: The Old Colfax County Jail, erected in 1872, where you can regale them with tales of the Colfax County War masked mob, reportedly led by Clay Allison in 1875.

 

Clayton, NM

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the grave of  Black Jack Ketchum, who was hanged in Clayton on April 26, 1901, for attempting to hold up a train.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The elaborately carved back bar in the 1892 building of Carl Eklund’s hotel where cowboys off the Goodnight-Loving Trail likely knocked back whiskey.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1909 R.W. Isaac’s Hardware Company, which still operates as a a hardware store.

What the Kids Will Love: Rabbit Ears Roundup Rodeo held Fourth of July weekend; be sure to point out the Rabbit Ears mountain peaks over the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail.

 

Clovis, CA

Old West Claim to Fame: In 1880, the “Wheat King of the Nation,” Clovis Cole, bought 480 acres, which would later become Clovis; he harvested more than 40,000 acres of wheat.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Festus statue, paying tribute to Ken Curtis for his long-running role as Festus Hagen, the cantankerous deputy marshal on Gunsmoke.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1891 Tarpey Depot, the last existing station of the San Joaquin Valley Railroad, is now the visitor’s center and the gateway to the town’s other historical attractions.

What the Kids Will Love: Children’s Electric Christmas Parade held in Old Town Clovis in December.

 

Coffeyville, KS

Old West Claim to Fame: Coffeyville’s citizens foiled the dangerous Dalton Gang during the 1892 robbery of the Condon and First National Banks.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Death Alley, with the chalk outlines of the Coffeyville marshal and the Dalton Gang members who ended their lives here: Grat and Bob Dalton, and Bill Power.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1892 Elmwood Cemetery, where shoot-out victims Bob, Grat and Bill were laid to rest (gang member Dick Broadwell was buried in his family plot in Hutchinson).

What the Kids Will Love: Seeing the mementos from the shoot-out at the Dalton Defenders Museum; the kids will be doubly entertained if you bring them to see the Dalton Defenders Days  re-enactment, held this year on October 1.

 

Coeur D’Alene, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: The short-lived Coeur d’Alene gold rush of 1884 saw Wyatt Earp staking his mining claims and opening up the White Elephant Saloon in Eagle City (not to be confused with Luke Short’s saloon in Fort Worth, Texas).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Photographers and bicyclists pair themselves up with their 19th-century statuary representatives, photographer Leopold at Higgens Point and bicyclist Kate at Riverstone Park, while exploring the North Idaho Centennial Trail.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The oldest building in all of Idaho, the 1853 Mission of the Sacred Heart, at the Old Mission park; the Catholic Mission still ministers to the Coeur d’Alene tribe to this day.

What the Kids Will Love: Panning for gold in Eagle City Park, which offers family fees of $10 per day or $20 per weekend.

 

Cripple Creek, CO

Old West Claim to Fame: Bob Womack turns Poverty Gulch into rich man’s land, finding gold in October 1890 that set off the last, and greatest, gold rush in Colorado’s history.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1891 Mollie Kathleen Mine, which gives you a look into the 1890s gold miner’s life.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1896 Old Homestead House Museum, which pays tribute to the brothel run by madam Pearl De Vere (to this day, admirers still leave tokens on her grave at the Mount Pisgah Cemetery).

What the Kids Will Love: Seeing the Western melodramas at the Butte Theatre (in 1896, it was known as the Butte Concert and Beer Hall—a combination more fitting for adults than the kids).

 

Custer, SD

Old West Claim to Fame: The camp of the 1874 Black Hills Expedition, led by George A. Custer, was located three miles east of this town; the expedition’s gold discovery set off a gold rush in the Black Hills.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The face of Crazy Horse on the memorial that began being carved in 1948; next up is the horse’s head!

Historical Site You Must Visit: Gordon Stockade, which citizens of Custer first built in 1925; the Custer State Park is home to the third rendition of the Gordon Party’s log fortress to protect against Lakota attacks—within five months of building it, the pioneers were evicted by the U.S. Cavalry in 1875.

What the Kids Will Love: Reciting the cowboy poems of South Dakota’s first poet laureate, Charles Badger Clark, while traveling the forested loop trail named in his honor that takes you to his cabin affectionately known as the “Badger Hole.”

 

Deadwood, SD

Old West Claim to Fame: Wild Bill Hickok was killed while gambling at the town’s Saloon No. 10 in 1876; the “Dead Man’s Hand” derives from the legendary aces and eights said to be in his hand.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Markers for Calamity Jane, Hickok and Seth Bullock (the latter, a sheriff popularized by the HBO Deadwood series) at the Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The oldest history museum in the Black Hills, the Adams Museum and the 1892 Adams House are the town’s leaders in presenting history in lectures and events.

What the Kids Will Love: The larger-than-life bronze bison sculptures pursued by Indian horseback riders at actor Kevin Costner’s interpretive center, Tatanka: Story of the Bison.

 

Deming, NM

Old West Claim to Fame: Rail buffs know it as an 1881 town named after the wife of Charles Crocker, one of the “Big Four” builders of the Central Pacific. Buffalo Soldiers buffs like it for its close proximity to the ruins of 1863 Fort Cummings, near Cooke’s Springs, as Private William Cathey (actually a female) helped protect emigrants from Apache attacks during 1867-68.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Cookes Peak, reminiscent of the Matterhorn, which the Apaches used as a lookout for centuries.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The red-brick Luna County Courthouse, built in 1910, where four Villistas from Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid on Columbus, New Mexico, were hanged on the front lawn.

What the Kids Will Love: The Great American Duck Race held every August.

 

Dodge City, KS

Old West Claim to Fame: The longest-running TV Western Gunsmoke inspired renewed interest in Dodge City and its cowtown days.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The statue of Wyatt Earp, who served seasonally as assistant city marshal in Dodge during 1876-79; find it along the Dodge City Trail of Fame walking tour through downtown.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The Boot Hill Museum’s 1872-78 cemetery; a popular grave is that of Jack Reynolds, the first recorded killing in Dodge.

What the Kids Will Love: Measuring themselves up against the wax figurines of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Belle Starr, Davy Crockett, Billy the Kid and Calamity Jane at the Gunfighters Wax Museum.

 

Duncan, OK

Old West Claim to Fame: William Duncan’s trading post along Cow Creek, near the Fort Sill-Fort Arbuckle Military Road, an 1867 post he took over so he could trade with cattle drovers on the Chisholm Trail; the Scotsman established the town’s post office in 1884, in advance of the 1892 arrival of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Chisholm Trail historical marker, on the west side of Fuqua Park (another favorite spot is nearby Monument Hill with its visible trail ruts).

Historical Site You Must Visit: The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center with its multi-sensory theater that allows you to see, hear and feel a cattle trail drive.

What the Kids Will Love: Playing skip games on the sidewalk stepping stones with historical statements; you’ll find them along the Main Street Duncan Historic Stepping Stone Trail.

 

El Paso, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: El Paso launched the Mexican Revolution (historian Leon Metz first revealed this in True West!).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: John Wesley Hardin’s grave is a biggie, but Concordia Cemetery is also the resting place of Texas Rangers and Buffalo Soldiers.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Old Fort Bliss Museum with a replica of the fort during its 1854-68 Magoffinsville days; you’ll find it at the modern Fort Bliss (1893-present).

What the Kids Will Love: First Thanksgiving celebration held in April in nearby San Elizario (Don Juan de Oñate and his Spanish colonists were the first to celebrate it in the U.S. in 1598).

 

Elk City, OK

Old West Claim to Fame: Oklahoma town of beer drinkers tried to entice Adolphus Busch into building a brewery there by naming their town Busch; eventually settled on naming it Elk City, supposedly after an Indian chief named Elk River.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The towering “Route 66” sign outside the National Route 66 Museum in the Old Town Museum Complex.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Old Town Museum Complex gathers history in one site; besides the history exhibited at the museums, you’ll find original buildings at the replica pioneer town.

What the Kids Will Love: Riding the hand carved wooden horses at Ackley Park’s Centennial Carousel (built in 2001, to commemorate 1901 founding).

 

Elko, NV

Old West Claim to Fame: After the Central Pacific Railroad chugged through here in 1868, the town grew into an economic center for northeastern Nevada’s livestock empire, ruled by folks like the cattle kings/governors L.R. Bradley and John Sparks.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Nevada’s Swiss Alps, the Ruby Mountains, 20 miles south of Elko near the ranching community of Lamoille.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1913 Pioneer Hotel, which started as an 1868 tent saloon that was likely the first bar in Elko.

What the Kids Will Love: Western Folklife Center, which hosts the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, tries to attract youth to cowboy poetry by offering them a youth festival, cow kids stampede and a young buckaroo poetry session.

 

Ellensburg, WA

Old West Claim to Fame: The 1870 trading post store, Robber’s Roost, run by cowboys Ben Burch and A.J. Splawn encouraged settlement; John Shoudy, who purchased that store, resided in the house on West Water Street.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1875 Olmstead log cabin and 1908 farmhouse, at Olmstead Place park, which enshrines one of the first homesteads in the Kittitas Valley.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1889 Cadwell building, which houses the Kittitas County Museum, where you can see historical photographs and American Indian baskets, bags and stone tools.

What the Kids Will Love: Frontier Village at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, with reassembled 1880s structures including the Robber’s Roost.

 

Flagstaff, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: A group of pioneers traveling the Beale Road in 1876 celebrated the Fourth of July by stripping the limbs of a pine tree and raising a flag; pioneers who came across it ended up calling the site Flagstaff.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1904 Riordan Mansion; a tour of the 40-room mansion shares the story of the Riordan brothers who came to Flagstaff in the 1880s as lumberjacks.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1896 telescope at Lowell Observatory; on telescope viewing nights, you can view Jupiter, the Moon and star clusters.

What the Kids Will Love: Viewing the cliff dwellings of Ancestral Puebloans at the nearby national monuments of Walnut Canyon (10 miles east of downtown) and Wupatki (33 miles north).

 

Fort Benton, MT

Old West Claim to Fame: This city on the banks of the Missouri River got its start as an American Fur Company trading post in 1846, Fort Benton, and is known as the “Birthplace of Montana.”

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: A replica of the keelboats fur trappers poled up the Missouri River to reach the trading post; you’ll find the replica on the levee in downtown.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Old Fort Benton Park, which interprets the Buffalo Robe Trade era, the Whiskey Whoop-Up Trail and the Mullan Road.

What the Kids Will Love: Touring the one-room school, mercantile, prairie dwellings, drug store and other buildings at the Homestead Village.

 

Fort Macleod, AB, Canada

Old West Claim to Fame: The headquarters of Canada’s famous North West Mounted Police is the 1874 Fort Macleod at the 1884 barracks site that offers interpretive tours from April to October.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The reconstructed 1884 N.W.M.P. barracks at the Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police, where you can learn about the mounted police’s march west to end the illegal whiskey trade.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Alberta’s designated historic area, Fort Macleod’s Main Street, with some buildings dating back to 1878.

What the Kids Will Love: Grooming and saddling a horse for the Fort Museum’s famous musical ride, daily from July through August; kids will be awarded a special prize by the mounted patrol for their help.

 

Fort Smith, AR

Old West Claim to Fame: Where “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker reigned over the lawless Indian Territory from 1875-96.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The reconstructed gallows at Fort Smith site, particularly since the 2010 movie True Grit has hit critical acclaim.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Oak Cemetery, where you’ll find the graves of outlaws hanged during the Judge Parker era.

What the Kids Will Love: Spotting bald eagles during their winter migration on a boat tour of Lake Fort Smith; be sure the kids bundle up!

 

Golden, CO

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the final resting place of Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody, at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Coors Brewery, which got its start in Golden in 1873 as a stone building near Castle Rock and grew into the industrial complex it is today.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1867 Astor House, where many of the territorial legislators boarded before Denver snagged the honor of becoming the capital city.

What the Kids Will Love: The bumper boats and pony rides at Heritage Square Amusement Park.

 

Gonzales, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: In 1831, the Mexican government sent Gonzales a six-pound cannon as protection against Comanche and Tonkawa Indians; that cannon reportedly fired the first shot in the Texas Revolution during the “Come & Take It” Battle on October 2, 1835.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The J.B. Wells House, built in 1885 by T.N. Matthews and bought by Wells five years later.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Gonzales Memorial Museum commemorates the “Immortal 32,” volunteers from Gonzales who responded to Alamo commander William B. Travis’s pleas for help. The “Come & Take It” cannon is included among the memorabilia on exhibit.

What the Kids Will Love: Battle re-enactments held throughout the year at the Gonzales Pioneer Village, which features 19th-century buildings.

 

Gothenburg, NE

Old West Claim to Fame: Known as the “Pony Express Capital of Nebraska,” Gothenburg is home to an 1854 trading post-turned-Pony Express station, relocated to the center of town in Ehman Park and now operating as a museum.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Pony Express station is certainly popular, but another top landmark is the Sod House Museum.

Historical Site You Must Visit: To see a Pony Express station on its original site, head to Lower 96 Ranch; the ranch is privately owned so visitation is limited.

What the Kids Will Love: A picnic along Lake Helen, constructed on the north edge of town in 1891 to generate electricity.

 

Grand Junction, CO

Old West Claim to Fame: A major commercial hub between the Green River and the Continental Divide, Grand Junction sits near the Grand Valley, where Kit Carson, John Charles Fremont and John Gunnison passed through in the 1840s and 1850s.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Main Street offers numerous sculptures that will help commemorate your trip to the city; some favorites include a train sculpture, a “King of the Road” toad and even a dinosaur riding a bike.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Red rock canyons of the Colorado National Monument, which offers centennial events in 2011; the most scenic route, Rim Rock Drive, is between Grand Junction and Fruita.

What the Kids Will Love: The wild mustangs running on the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area.

 

Great Falls, MT

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the most complete collection of artwork and personal objects of cowboy artist C.M. Russell at the C.M. Russell Museum.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Great Falls of the Missouri, which Meriwether Lewis first saw in 1805, describing it as the “grandest sight I had ever held.”

Historical Site You Must Visit: Trace the momentous exploration of the Corps of Discovery at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center; don’t forget to check out the replica of the iron frame boat on the front prairie.

What the Kids Will Love: The nearby First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park; the kids will delight when you tell them how the Great Plains Indians hunted bison by driving them over cliffs at this pishkun.

 

Gunnison, CO

Old West Claim to Fame: Colorado’s oldest and longest running rodeo, Cattlemen’s Days, turns 111 years old this year.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Denver & Rio Grande Western steam locomotive 268, which operated in the Gunnison area from 1882-1955 and is now found among other narrow gauge rail relics at the Pioneer Museum.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The nearby Alpine Tunnel, the first narrow gauge railroad tunnel constructed through the Continental Divide; completed in 1881.

What the Kids Will Love: Trout fly-fishing or float trips on the Upper Gunnison River.

 

Hannibal, MO

Old West Claim to Fame: From 1839 on, Mark Twain grew up as Samuel Clemens in this Mississippi River town, which has preserved his boyhood home for visitors.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Mark Twain sculpture at Glascock’s Landing depicting him as a steamboat pilot (the 23 year old received his steamboat pilot license in 1859).

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1900 Rockcliffe Mansion, built for a lumber baron and his family, which offers majestic views of the Mississippi River.

What the Kids Will Love: Besides Mark Twain’s boyhood home, the kids will enjoy walking through scenes from Twain’s famous 1885 novel at the Tom Sawyer Dioramas Museum and seeing the childhood home of Laura Hawkins, immortalized in the novel as Becky Thatcher (don’t forget to take a pic of the kids by the Tom & Huck statue, at Cardiff Hill).

 

Jamestown, ND

Old West Claim to Fame: Two years before he headed the expedition to survey the Oregon Trail, pathfinder John C. Fremont camped along the James River in July 1839, noting the shaggy buffalo herds.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The world’s largest buffalo…sculpture, that is. Found at Frontier Village, the 60-ton concrete sculpture stands 26 feet high and is 46 feet long.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The site of the 1871 Fort Seward, built to protect Northern Pacific rail workers, with a scale model at the interpretive center.

What the Kids Will Love: The rare albino buffalos, White Cloud and Dakota Miracle, in the live herd of buffalo at the National Buffalo Museum.

 

Jerome, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: Dubbed the “Billion Dollar Copper Camp,” Jerome, situated on the side of Cleopatra Hill, boomed in 1876 with its last mine closing in 1953.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Spirit Room, which has had many incarnations as a pioneer landmark: it started out as the 1880s Stone Saloon, with a hotel added in 1898, then it became the Connor Café, a cigar store and finally returned to its roots as a local bar and hotel.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1890 Gold King Mine, which is now a living history museum that showcases 1890s mining equipment and historic buildings from the area.

What the Kids Will Love: Throwing coins into outhouses, tubs and old mine carts into the shell of the 1901 Bartlett Hotel (it replaced the 1895 Grandview Hotel after a fire); all those pitched pennies are gathered up for restoration efforts.

 

John Day, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: Named for fur trapper John Day, who toured the Columbia Basin region as a member of the Astor expedition in 1811.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Hike around the Painted Hills, which get their name from the yellows, golds, blacks and reds that “paint” the rocks. Late afternoon is the best time to see this landmark, located at the John Day Fossil Beds monument.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Kam Wah Chung Museum, which shares the history of the 1866-67 trading post built on The Dalles Military Road; it evolved into a Chinese center and the site offers displays that exhibit the lives of the Chinese miners who made up the bulk of the community in 1879.

What the Kids Will Love: The touch tables to view the fossils and bones of the cousins of elephants, camels and sabertooth tigers that once roamed freely in eastern Oregon, at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center Museum in Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds monument.

 

Kearney, NE

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to Fort Kearny, which operated from 1848-71, and counted among its visitors Buffalo Bill Cody (a scout with 5th Cavalry’s Republican River Expedition in 1869) and Wild Bill Hickok (who, from 1866-69, tracked down Army deserters and served as deputy U.S. marshal).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Great Platte River Road Archway, a museum built directly over I-80, which commemorates the wagon road primarily used from 1841-66.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1848 Oregon Trail outpost Fort Kearny, with reconstructed stockade, parade grounds and blacksmith shop.

What the Kids Will Love: Seeing the wagons, buggies and trains at the Trails and Rails Museum, inside the former 1898 Union Pacific depot.

 

Kennewick, WA

Old West Claim to Fame: Lewis and Clark interpreter Sacagawea traveled in a dugout canoe in October 1805 to reach the area that is today’s Washington’s Tri-Cities, and today you can hike or bike that heritage trail along the Columbia River through Kennewick, Richland and Pasco.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: This 1996 discovery certainly put Kennewick back on the map, so it might as well be a landmark: the Kennewick Man, an approximately 9,300-year-old skeleton found at the edge of Columbia Park. Okay, you can only take a picture in front of a casting of the skull at the East Benton County Historical Society Museum; the skeleton itself is under lock and key at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Lewis & Clark’s campsite at the mouth of the Snake River, at today’s Sacajawea State Park in the nearby 1884 railroad town of Pasco. You should also check out Bateman Island, between Richland and Kennewick, as it is the farthest Clark journeyed up the Columbia River.

What the Kids Will Love: The 500 rodeo contestants calf roping and bareback riding at the Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo held in Kennewick from August 23-27, 2011.

 

Ketchum/Sun Valley, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: Ketchum is named after David Ketchum, a trapper who roamed the area in 1879-80, when the town was growing into one of the richest mining districts in the Northwest.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The grave of Nobel Prize author Ernest Hemingway in the Ketchum Cemetery; his first published story was the semi-autobiographical “Indian Camp.”

Historical Site You Must Visit: Take a dip in Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs or other area mineral water respites in the Sawtooth National Recreational Area to remind you of the ever-popular Guyer Hot Springs developed by stagecoach entrepreneur and Ketchum founder Isaac Lewis in 1887.

What the Kids Will Love: The wagon trains showcased in the Old West-themed carnival at Wagon Days Festival every Labor Day weekend.

 

Kingsville, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: The 1853 King Ranch is the nation’s largest national historic landmark.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The King Ranch Carriage House, which evokes the facade of the Alamo chapel, built because the ranch founder’s widow Henrietta was fascinated with the 1836 battle for Texas independence.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The King Ranch Saddle Shop provided saddle and tack with the Running W brand (registered in 1869); today you can visit the shop in the 1904 J.B. Ragland Mercantile Co. building.

What the Kids Will Love: Seeing how many branding irons they can count at the John E. Conner Museum (home to more than 900!).

 

Klamath Falls, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: The Modoc Tribe’s homeland was south of Klamath Falls, and they hid out in nearby lava beds to avoid going to the reservation, which resulted in the Modoc War of 1872-73. Top Modoc sites to visit: Fort Klamath Museum, Army base during the war and site where four Modocs were hanged, and the Lava Beds National Monument.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Crater Lake; the best way to reach your photo op is via the Crater Lake Trolley based in Klamath Falls. A National Park interpreter shares the stories behind the sites you’ll see on the two-hour tour of the lake.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Klamath County Museum; in 2010, it acquired three diaries offering witness accounts of the Modoc War. The museum’s exhibits include artifacts and battle maps.

What the Kids Will Love: The Children’s Museum of Klamath Falls. It gives the kiddies the chance to throw their creations into a Wind Tunnel.

 

Laramie, WY

Old West Claim to Fame: Pioneer women rose to power here! In 1870, Louisa Swain became the first woman to legally cast her vote; plus, six women in Laramie served as trial jurors for the first time in history and Martha Atkinson served as a female bailiff at that trial. (The American Heritage Center is your best bet for archival materials on these women and other area pioneers.)

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Mark A. Greene, director of the American Heritage Center, tells us it’s: “The life-size bronze sculpture of the rodeo bucking bronco Steamboat, paired with a rider holding on for dear life. The sculpture is the inspiration for the university’s logo and the outline appearing on the state’s license plate.  It’s located directly across the street from our building on the grounds of the University of Wyoming stadium.”

Historical Site You Must Visit: Wyoming Territorial Prison, where Butch Cassidy served an 18-month stint; upon his release in 1896, he became a part of the infamous Wild Bunch Gang.

What the Kids Will Love: Butch Cassidy Days, on June 25-26, when a prison escape will be re-enacted, with young cowpokes encouraged to help with the capture of the convicts (many escape attempts were made in the early 1890s due to the lack of guard personnel).

 

Lawton/Fort Sill, OK

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to Geronimo’s grave in the Apache cemetery at Fort Sill, where the Apache medicine man died in 1909.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Geronimo’s grave is quite popular, but so are the graves of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker and his mother Cynthia Ann, at the Fort Sill cemetery.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The reconstructed 1840s Red River Trading Post at the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton; re-enactors bring it to life during spring and fall encampments.

What the Kids Will Love: Getting a passport stamp and souvenir for visiting six Fort Sill attractions along the Discovery Trail.

 

Leadville, CO

Old West Claim to Fame: The Love Triangle of silver king Horace Tabor, who had a secret relationship in 1880 and eventually (after first bungling it) divorced his wife to marry Elizabeth Doe, nicknamed “Baby” Doe Tabor.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1879 Tabor Opera House, named after Baby Doe Tabor, whose life is much like an operatic tragedy, as she went from rags to riches before dying penniless at the Matchless Mine.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The gold and silver mining camp at Mary Murphy Mine, which operated from 1870-1925; to descend into a hard rock mine, head to the 1890s Hopemore Mine on Breece Hill.

What the Kids Will Love: The town’s athletic competitions, ranging from ski joring in March to burro pack races during Boom Days in August.

 

Lewiston, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: Lewis and Clark passed through Nez Perce Country in 1805, and Lewiston, at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, is named for explorer Meriwether Lewis.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: One of the deepest river gorges in North America, Hells Canyon at Hells Gate State Park.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, between Lewiston and Lolo Pass, where you can visit the site of Lewis & Clark’s first meeting with the Nez Perce, the 1860 gold mining town of Pierce and the Palouse prairies above Lewiston.

What the Kids Will Love: The Camas Prairie Railroad Locomotive 92, in Locomotive Park (the short line railroad is the same one featured in the Charles Bronson Western Breakheart Pass).

 

Lewistown, MT

Old West Claim to Fame: Lewistown’s rich heritage began when the Metis hauled their belongings in Red River Carts and settled here in 1879; daily reminders of Metis culture are found while driving down the roads Morasse, Ouellette and Janeaux, the last bearing the name of Metis trader Francis Janeaux.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Yogo Gulch, home to the cornflower blue sapphire mine in the Little Belt Mountains, west of Lewistown (if you’re looking to actually mine some sapphires, visit Spokane Bar Mine near Helena or Gem Mountain near Philipsburg).

Historical Site You Must Visit: Gravesite of E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott, cowboy pioneer and author of We Pointed Them North, at cemetery near the Officers’ Quarters House of the 1880 Fort Maginnis.

What the Kids Will Love: The masked bandits who hold up the Charlie Russell Chew-Choo (while you get to enjoy dinner as you watch antelope and coyotes on this scenic 56-mile round trip of the Judith Basin area the cowboy artist painted).

 

Lincoln, NM

Old West Claim to Fame: Site of the climax of the Lincoln County War, when a four-day gunfight in July 1878 culminated in the death of Alexander McSween; Pat Garrett hunted down one of the Lincoln County Regulators, Billy the Kid, in July 1881.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Lincoln Torreon, a stone tower built by early settlers to defend against Apache attacks, where sharpshooters were stationed in the 1878 war.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The entire town of Lincoln, frozen in the 1870s-80s, offering up Lincoln County War sites such as the Tunstall store, with its original 19th-century merchandise.

What the Kids Will Love: The Old Lincoln Days re-enactment of Billy the Kid’s 1881 jailbreak at the old Lincoln County Courthouse and jail, and the Buffalo Soldiers re-enactors at Fort Stanton Live!, held at the 1855 Fort Stanton, in August.

 

Logan, UT

Old West Claim to Fame: Logan Canyon is named for Mountain Man Ephraim Logan, who famously trapped with Jedediah Smith’s party; he eventually lost his life in the spring of 1828.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The 1878 Tabernacle, the oldest still-standing structure built by the Mormon settlers who founded this town in 1859.

Historical Site You Must Visit: 1884 Logan Temple, with grounds that comprise a full city block of approximately 10 acres.

What the Kids Will Love: The Great American West Rodeo on June 10-12, 2011.

 

Mandan, ND

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to North Dakota’s oldest state park, Fort Abraham Lincoln, highlighting its re-created Mandan village and the last home of George A. Custer before he perished with his 7th Cavalry men at the Little Big Horn in 1876.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Life-sized bronze of a one-time deputy sheriff who would later become our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, in front of Mandan Depot.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The wilds of the Missouri River, explored by Lewis & Clark during their 1805-06 expedition; it’s best seen via the Lewis & Clark Riverboat.

What the Kids Will Love: Old West re-enactors, chuckwagon races and rodeo parade at the Mandan Rodeo, a Fourth of July tradition.

 

Medora, ND

Old West Claim to Fame: Buffalo hunting brought Theodore Roosevelt to the Badlands in 1883, and he credits his time ranching in the Dakotas for preparing him for his presidency (his Maltese Cross cabin, originally seven miles from Medora, is at the national park named for him, accessible from Medora).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Chateau de Mores, the short-lived home of Marquis de Mores, who founded the cowtown in 1883 to establish a beef processing operation.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Sully Creek park, south of Medora, where Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully fought the Sioux in the 1864 Battle of the Badlands.

What the Kids Will Love: The Old West town-styled playground at Medora Children’s Park, and the new Western-style Medora Musical performed June 10 through September 10, 2011.

 

Monticello, UT

Old West Claim to Fame: Robert LeRoy Parker, before he became Butch Cassidy, and some of his cohorts hid out at the Carlisle Ranch at the Blue Mountains near Monticello after his first bank robbery in 1889 in Telluride, Colorado.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Three Kiva Pueblo in Montezuma Creek Canyon between Monticello and Blanding. (We also recommend the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Hovenweep National Monument.)

Historical Site You Must Visit: The high desert country stronghold for outlaws, Robbers Roost, near Moab; have fun exploring canyons that provided a haven for Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch Gang.

What the Kids Will Love: Pioneer Day in July, commemorating the 1847 arrival of Mormon settlers to the Salt Lake Valley.

 

Nacogdoches, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: Billed as the “oldest town in Texas,” Nacogdoches got its start when Spanish trader Antonio Gil Y’Barbo received designation from Spain in 1779 that it was a pueblo.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Treaty statue in Eugenia Sterne Park, portraying Sam Houston and Cherokee Chief Bowles to illustrate the temporary 1836 peace treaty with Indians to avoid complications in the Texians’ fight against the Mexicans.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1830 Sterne-Hoya Museum, a Victorian-style museum that served as a gathering place for many significant figures in Texas history including Sam Houston, Thomas J. Rusk, Davy Crockett, Charles S. Taylor and Cherokee Chief Bowles.

What the Kids Will Love: The reconstructed Old Stone Fort, thought to have been built by Y’Barbo.

 

Newport, WA

Old West Claim to Fame: First named Newport in 1893, the town served as a river port for the steamers operating between Albeni Falls and Z Canyon until the Pend Oreille River Bridge was built in 1927.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The “Big Wheel,” a 16-foot Corliss steam engine and flywheel to represent the town’s late 1800s steam sawmill, at Centennial Plaza.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1894 Kelly’s Tavern, still serving up libations and food as it did for the early-day miners, loggers and railway workers.

What the Kids Will Love: The buffalo herd at the nearby Kalispel Indian Reservation; you’ll often see the buffalo traveling along the Pend Oreille River.

 

North Platte, NE

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the 1886 Scout’s Rest Ranch, where Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody lived.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Wild West Memorial, at Cody Park, near the site of Cody’s 1882 spectator rodeo, the Old Glory Blowout; the memorial shows a life-sized bronze of Cody in a gazebo surrounded by flags of the 48 states he visited with his Wild West show.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard, considered to be the world’s largest classification yard, plus more rail attractions at the Cody Park Railroad Museum.

What the Kids Will Love: The miniature Buffalo Bill Wild West show at Fort Cody Trading Post.

 

Northfield, MN

Old West Claim to Fame: The Northfield Raid, a foiled bank robbery attempted by the James-Younger Gang in 1876.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The First National Bank robbery site; if you want to get your picture taken with re-enactors, the best time to come is during the Defeat of Jesse James Days celebration in September.

Historical Site You Must Visit: If you aren’t lucky enough to get a reservation to stay here, you should at least visit the 1877 Archer House River Inn, along the banks of the Cannon River.

What the Kids Will Love: Retracing the route of the James-Younger Gang on the Outlaw Trail Tour; the guide brochure is available at the chamber.

 

Oakdale, CA

Old West Claim to Fame: Home to the Sierra Railroad, which has been chugging since 1897.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Sydnor-Prowse House, the city’s oldest building dating to 1869 and home to the  Oakdale Museum.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Nearby Knight’s Ferry, with a 330-foot covered bridge built in 1863 (and history as a ferry crossing since 1848), and a restored, circa 1857 mill and mill office.

What the Kids Will Love: The Oakdale Cowboy Museum encourages kids to dress up as cowgirls and cowboys to give them added insight into the cattle drive era.

 

Oregon City, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: Known as the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains in 1844, Oregon City harks back to fur traders

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Willamette Falls, the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest and where John McLoughlin established a claim for Hudson’s Bay Company in 1829.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1846 home of John McLoughlin, who commissioned the first city plat three years earlier.

What the Kids Will Love: Candle dipping, dressing up in period clothes for photo ops and the pioneer toys at the End of the Oregon Trail Visitors Center.

 

Prescott, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: Prescott’s Whiskey Row has served libations to legendary Old West figures including Doc Holliday, the Earps and Lillie Langtree.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders statue at the tree-lined Courthouse Plaza, a serene urban counterpart to Rowdy Row; the Rough Riders gathered at the plaza in May 1898 before eventually heading out to serve in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Arizona’s oldest frontier bar, the 1877 Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row.

What the Kids Will Love: Seeing the 1860s come to life during living history events held on the second Saturday of each month at the Sharlot Hall Museum; military life is illuminated at Fort Whipple Museum on the third Saturday of May, August and November.

 

Preston, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: The Bear River Massacre, during which California Volunteers attacked Shoshones on January 29, 1863; the massacre site is a few miles  northwest of Preston.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Those interested in Mormon history enjoy posing in front of the 1895 Oneida Stake Academy; for other pioneer landmarks, keep traveling the Pioneer Historic Byway toward Yellowstone park.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Nearby Franklin Historic District, which features the Hatch House and other Mormon pioneer buildings of this 1860 town.

What the Kids Will Love: The movie Napoleon Dynamite was actually filmed in the town of Preston where the character attended high school; yes, Ritewood Egg Farm is a real place.

 

Red Bluff, CA

Old West Claim to Fame: Notable Red Bluff pioneer William B. Ide was among the group of Americans who, in 1846, revolted against Mexican rule to raise the Bear Flag and proclaim the Republic of California; a state park bearing Ide’s name houses his 1850 adobe house among other buildings.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Cone-Kimball Clock Tower, first built in 1886 until a fire destroyed it in 1984; rebuilt as a cornerstone for the community in 2008.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The nearby gold mining town of Shasta, now a historic park that offers up 1850s-era buildings including a restored 1861 courthouse.

What the Kids Will Love: The Red Bluff Round-Up, a rodeo held since 1920 that takes place this year from April 15-17 ; kids particularly enjoy cheering on the Wild Horse Race.

 

Sacramento, CA

Old West Claim to Fame: John Sutter hired James W. Marshall to build a sawmill for him; when Marshall discovered gold at Coloma, his 1848 find set off the famous Forty-Niner Gold Rush and caused Sutterville to be eclipsed by Sacramento.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The two-story adobe main building, built between 1841-43, at Sutter’s Fort, where you can learn about the trade colony established here by John Sutter.

Historical Site You Must Visit: History galore is found at Old Sacramento, with 28 acres offering up history museums and sites sharing the town’s Pony Express, railroad and gold heritage.

What the Kids Will Love: Staying in the Delta King Hotel, an authentic 285-foot riverboat that plied the Sacramento River during the Prohibition era.

 

St. Joseph, MO

Old West Claim to Fame: Where the Pony Express got its start (1860), and outlaw Jesse James met his end (1882).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The home where Jesse James was killed on April 3, 1882, by his fellow gang member Robert Ford.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Patee House, an 1858 luxury hotel that served as the headquarters for the Pony Express during 1860-61.

What the Kids Will Love: Dressing up as a pioneer in the “Family Life on the Frontier” exhibit at the Pony Express National Museum (housed in the Pikes Peak Stables where that lone rider rode out in 1860).

 

Salina, KS

Old West Claim to Fame: Salina is the westernmost town on the 1858 Smoky Hill Trail, considered the fastest trail to the gold fields in Colorado.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The site of the 1857 battle at Gleniffer Hill in Indian Rock park; the Cheyennes, Arapahos and Sioux were driven back by the Kaws, Delawares and Pottawatomies.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Cottonwood Ranch, the Pratt family’s 1885 sheep ranch on the high plains, featuring original buildings including a stone washhouse with an underground cellar.

What the Kids Will Love: That they can touch everything at the Yesteryear Museum—from the 1860s sawmill to agricultural threshers; the Smoky Hill Museum is also touch-friendly, allowing kids to step inside a full-sized sod dugout.

 

Santa Clarita, CA

Old West Claim to Fame: Some claimed that Placerita Canyon’s Oak of the Golden Dream is the site of California’s first gold discovery in 1842.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Vasquez Rocks, the alleged hideout of Tiburcio Vasquez and setting for countless Westerns.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita Valley, where Westerns have been filmed since 1915; you can walk down the Western Street set in the footsteps of Gene Autry, Tom Mix,  Roy Rogers, Gary Cooper and John Wayne. The place really livens up during the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, held this year from April 27-May 1.

What the Kids Will Love: The Spaghetti Western murder mystery express and other dinner train excursions at the FIllmore & Western Railway.

 

Sturgis, SD

Old West Claim to Fame: The “Star Spangled Banner” began its journey to becoming the national anthem in 1931 after Fort Meade commander Caleb H. Carlton had it played at retreat each day in 1892.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Nearby Bear Butte—an almost-volcano that continues to play a role as a sacred mountain for several tribes of Plains Indians.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The cavalry museum sharing the artifacts of 1878 Fort Meade, established by the 7th Cavalry of Little Big Horn fame under their post commander Col. Samuel D. Sturgis.

What the Kids Will Love: A closer look at the Black Hills Gold Rush via an underground tour of the Homestake Gold Mine in nearby Lead.

 

Tahlequah, OK

Old West Claim to Fame: The capital city of the Cherokee Nation; as the capital, it is also the leader in sharing Cherokee history via interactive tours led by tribal members, particularly Trail of Tears history at the Cherokee Heritage Center and at the graves of trail survivors in Ross Cemetery.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Oklahoma’s oldest building, the 1844-1875 Cherokee Supreme Court, offering up a museum sharing the judicial system, Cherokee language and Oklahoma’s first newspaper Cherokee Advocate.

Historical Site You Must Visit: NEW! The Cherokee National Prison Museum is opening this summer, so be among the first to check out the jail that held Indian Territory prisoners from 1875-1901.

What the Kids Will Love: The games and crafts with period re-enactors during the 1860 Lawn Social, held every June at the 1854 home of merchant and Trail of Tears survivor George M. Murrell.

 

The Dalles, OR

Old West Claim to Fame: Known as the End of the Oregon Trail after the route reached here in 1843; once emigrants arrived at The Dalles, they had to float their wagons down the Columbia River.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Pulpit Rock, where Methodist missionaries Jason and Daniel Lee preached to the Wascopam after founding their mission here in 1838.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The surgeon’s quarters, the only building left from the 1850 Fort Dalles, which now shares military history; your tour also includes the 1895 Anderson Homestead.

What the Kids Will Love: The Dalles-Dash geocache hunt; get passports at the chamber and return with it completed for a geo coin.

 

Vernon, TX

Old West Claim to Fame: Known for Doan’s Crossing, in the bend of the Red River, just north of Vernon, where Jonathan Doan established his store in 1878, along the Western Trail cattle drive. An interesting marker at the site shares the brands of famous Texas ranches.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Former Wilbarger County Jail, built in the late 1850s, located south of the Courthouse Square.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1881 adobe home of Corwin F. Doan, Jonathan’s nephew and partner of the trading post at Doan’s Crossing.

What the Kids Will Love: Learning about Poco Bueno, a famous sire of Quarter Horse champions who stood 15 hands high. They can visit his grave (where he is supposedly buried in a standing position) at the entrance to Waggoner Ranch, and they can learn more about the ranch at the Red River Valley Museum.

 

Wallace, ID

Old West Claim to Fame: Its Silver Valley earned this town the nickname “Silver Capital of the World” as Shoshone County is the only place on earth where, since 1884, more than a billion ounces of silver have been mined.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Bordellos! You have your choice of the oldest wood frame in town, the 1891 Lux Building (today’s Sixth Street Melodrama), or the Oasis Bordello Museum, a bordello operating from 1895 to 1988.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum, housed in the 1902 depot; learn about the branch line along the Mullan wagon route the NP completed to Wallace in 1891.

What the Kids Will Love: Biking on the Hiawatha Trail, on the former Milwaukee Road, offers a great opportunity to share Wallace’s railroad history; back in 1887, area’s narrow gauge rail was disconnected from major routes, meaning ore sacks had to be transferred by hand onto steamboats before cargo was conveyed to Northern Pacific in Coeur d’Alene.

 

Walnut Grove, MN

Old West Claim to Fame: Little House children’s series author Laura Ingalls Wilder lived at Palm Creek, near Walnut Grove, from 1874-76.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Ingalls Dugout site marker (especially if you’ve read On the Banks of Plum Creek) or the dugout replica at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum not only shares memorabilia from the Little House on the Prairie TV show but also settler buildings that include an 1898 depot.

What the Kids Will Love: A fun July respite on the banks of Plum Creek is the Wilder Pageant, sharing the story of the author’s life.

 

Wickenburg, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: The Vulture Mine became the most productive gold mine in the history of Arizona, and it was first discovered by the town’s namesake, Henry Wickenburg, in 1863; you can tour original mining structures at Vulture City.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe steam engine 761, an 1890 vintage, or the 1900 Southern Pacific drover caboose, which both pay homage to the Santa Fe railroad’s 1895 arrival to Wickenburg.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Hear Wickenburg’s pioneer history by pressing audio buttons at downtown sculptures and sites; the tour is narrated by Arizona State Historian and True West’s answer man Marshall Trimble.

What the Kids Will Love: Aspiring artists can glory in the Western art displayed at Desert Caballeros Western Museum, while all kids can find adventure with their families at guest ranches around town.

 

Window Rock, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: Window Rock serves as the seat of government for the Navajo Nation, the tribal government of the second largest American Indian tribe in the United States.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Tségháhoodzání (Window Rock), where the Navajo go to collect water for their rain ceremonies.

Historical Site You Must Visit: To gain an understanding of Diné Bikéyah (Navajoland) and of Navajo leaders the tribe reveres, like Chief Manuelito, visit the Navajo Nation Museum.

What the Kids Will Love: Eating frybread and dancing along to the powwow drum beats during the Navajo Nation Fair, held in September.

 

Winnemucca, NV

Old West Claim to Fame: The 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid reminded folks of the 1900 bank heist by Wild Bunch Gang members; it was one of the few U.S. holdups where Butch and Sundance worked together (the Humboldt Museum can fill you in on the rest of the story).

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Since Winnemucca literally means “place by the river,” the Humboldt River is a popular photogenic spot; a French trader settled along these banks in 1850 and called the area French Ford.

Historical Site You Must Visit: Just as they catered to the stomachs of Basque sheepherders, the 1863 Winnemucca Hotel and the 1898 Martin Hotel still serve up Basque cuisine.

What the Kids Will Love: During mine tours by Newmont Mining Corporation, kids can learn how mining has changed since the first mining claim was made on Winnemucca Mountain in 1859.

 

Yuma, AZ

Old West Claim to Fame: Fans of 3:10 to Yuma might be surprised to learn that the 1876 territorial prison, although impressive, is not what brought the town its fame; Yuma’s Colorado River Crossing did, as it helped Forty-Niners reach California and thousands of supplies sail upriver to Yuma to outposts throughout the Southwest.

Popular Landmark to Take Your Picture in Front of: Beneath the original 1876 archway to the cells at the Territorial Prison park; during your visit you’ll learn about notable prisoners such as Arizona territorial stagecoach robber Pearl Hart.

Historical Site You Must Visit: The 1864 Yuma Quartermaster Depot, with five structures from the active Army period that lasted until 1880, when the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Tucson and the quartermaster corps moved to Fort Lowell.

What the Kids Will Love: The Johnny Cash impersonator at the 3:10 to Yuma Anniversary in April, which celebrates the anniversary of the town banding together to save the Yuma Territorial Prison.

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