The Wild West

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The Wild West

The 150-year-long conquest of the American West was one of the most colorful eras of American history. From the moment that small bands of settlers set out across the Appalachian Mountains in the 1750s to the closing of the frontier around 1890, Americans sprawled and fought their way across thick forests, vast prairies, and soaring mountains, claiming as their own lands once inhabited by Native American tribes, or by Spanish or Mexican settlers, if they were inhabited at all. Fierce battles with Native Americans, protracted wars with the British and the Mexicans, and the sheer difficulty of taming the wilderness shaped the expanding American nation. But when people today think of the "Wild West," they do not think of land claims, wars, or early conflicts with Native Americans in the forested East. Instead they think of gunfights in dusty western towns, masked outlaws holding up trains, cowboys on horses, and stalwart lawmen protecting law-abiding citizens. The Wild West has been romanticized, but it is based in fact. In this chapter, we will explore the real-life Wild West.

Guns and lawlessness

Guns and lawlessness were a part of the frontier experience from the very beginnings of westward expansion. From the moment that settlers began moving across the Appalachians and into the Ohio Valley, the gun was an essential tool. The settler's rifle was a guarantee that he would never go hungry—and a means of fending off the Native Americans.

Yet the real Wild West experience is defined not by battles with Indians or claiming land, but by the competition among settlers for access to and control of the riches of the western landscape. Beginning with the California gold rush of 1849 and 1850 and continuing through the cattle booms of the 1860s and 1870s, a number of booms drew people westward in search of easy money and excitement. Many of the people who participated in these booms were law-abiding citizens and hard workers who valued integrity and honesty. But among them were also cheaters and outlaws, degenerates who escaped old problems in the East and created new ones in the West. Horse thieves, claim jumpers, cattle rustlers, and cold-blooded killers, these western outlaws were despised by upright citizens of the West, and they contributed to the most colorful conflicts in the long history of western expansion. These conflicts occurred in mining camps and cattle towns, on wagon trains and in saloons, and among outlaws and lawmen.

The gold rush

One of the first and the most dramatic of the western booms occurred in 1849 and 1850 in the Sacramento Valley of California. In January 1848 James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill on the American River. Word of his discovery brought prospectors first from throughout the territory (soon to become a state) and then from throughout the world. Camps sprang up overnight near areas where gold was discovered to accommodate miners who had staked claims. Enterprising merchants set up tent stores and charged the men exorbitant rates for food and supplies. Food was scarce, and those selling it often ended up with more money than the prospectors.

These mining camps were among the first American boomtowns. Because they formed so quickly and haphazardly, many of them did not have any established law enforcement. Mining camps were often filled with outcasts from civilized society who took whatever they wanted and were curbed only by the threat of revenge. Miners struggled to maintain their claims. Many carried weapons, and it was not unusual for a thief to be killed for "jumping" another man's claim. Violence was common in the mining camps, with fighting on streets and in the barrooms. Contributing to the bawdy atmosphere of early mining towns were the prostitutes who entertained the men for money.

Even the "established" town of San Francisco was known for its violence. As a port city, San Francisco saw a rapid influx of immigrants from around the world. Some countries, such as Nicaragua and Australia, dispatched convicts to California just to clear their prisons. One group from Sydney, Australia, formed a gang known as the Sydney Ducks. Violent career criminals, the Sydney Ducks conducted a reign of terror on the city streets that culminated in a particularly brutal robbery of a retail store in 1851. The San Francisco business community was finally prompted to take action, forming a citizens' committee, called the Committee of Vigilance, to try the offenders and to drive other criminals from the city. Vigilante justice (justice dealt out by citizens who take the law into their own hands) became the primary form of justice in gold rush country, as in much of the West. (See Chapter 6 for more about the gold rush.)

The cowboy frontier

The classic hero of the American West is the cowboy. Historian Walter P. Webb described this heroic figure in The Great Plains: "There is something romantic about him. He lives on horseback as do the Bedouins [an Arabian desert tribe]; he fights on horseback, as did the knights of chivalry; he goes armed with a strange new weapon which he uses ambidextrously [with both hands] and precisely; he swears like a trooper, drinks like a fish, wears clothes like an actor, and fights like a devil. He is gracious to ladies, reserved toward strangers, generous to his friends and brutal to his enemies. He is a cowboy, a typical Westerner." This is the cowboy of legend, who populated dime novels and romantic films.

For all the glory and romance attached to the image of the cowboy, his job was as low and gritty as can be imagined: he herded cattle. The first cattle to arrive in the New World came to Mexico with the Spanish in the 1500s, and under Spanish rule cattle raising became an important way of life for many Mexicans. In 1821, after Mexico won its independence from Spain, it offered free land to Americans if they would settle in Texas and become Mexican citizens. Writes Albert Marrin in Cowboys, Indians, and Gunfighters: The Story of the Cattle Kingdom: "Americans poured into Texas by the thousands. They were a mixed lot, people from all walks of life. Some were shady characters anxious to keep a step ahead of the law. If one day the sheriff was looking for someone, the next he might find G.T.T. (GONE TO TEXAS) chalked on the front door." Taking advantage of Mexican laws granting 4,438 acres of land to cattle ranchers, the new Texans (who were mainly from the South) brought their herds of cattle along with them.

The British breed of cattle introduced by the Texans soon mingled with the wild Spanish cattle that roamed Texas to form a breed known as the Texas longhorn. Writes Marrin: "The longhorn was an amazing beast. Lanky and swaybacked, with big ears and long legs, it varied in color from black to red, yellow, white, and spotted. It weighed from eight hundred pounds for youngsters to twice that for ten-year-olds....[Its horns] measured three to five feet from tip to tip." The longhorn was extremely durable, capable of protecting itself on the open range, finding grass in the most hostile climates, and locating water where men could find none. Cowboys claimed that the longhorn was also the meanest animal on earth, and stories abounded of longhorn bulls rampaging and killing men. One story told of a longhorn that attacked and nearly defeated a squad of American soldiers.

Before the Civil War (1861–65), many Texans owned cattle but few got rich from it. After the Civil War, however, the situation changed. Rising beef prices in the Northeast created a demand for cheap meat, a demand that had not existed before the war. Railroads built during the war made it possible to ship beef from the Midwest. Suddenly cattle that were worth four dollars in Texas were worth forty dollars if they could be brought to northern markets. The only problem facing cattle ranchers was how to get the cattle to market. Their answer was the cattle drive, in which cowboys herded thousands of cattle north to railheads (points on a railroad where traffic stops) in Kansas. From there the cattle could be shipped east and money could pour into the pockets of Texans. And so the cattle boom began.

The cattle boom

In 1866, ranchers across Texas hired tough young men to ride out onto the range (open, unfenced grasslands) and bring all the cattle marked with the rancher's brand back to the ranch to ready them for the drive north. By spring some 260,000 cattle in dozens of herds began to move northward toward Sedalia, Missouri, which was at that time the western terminus of the railroad. Driving a herd of cattle across prairies and rivers was difficult, but the cowboys' troubles increased as they entered Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Indians demanded ten cents a head for the cattle to cross their land and threatened to frighten the cattle into stampedes if the fee was not paid. Even worse, farmers in Missouri and Kansas, fearful of a disease carried by Texas cows, stopped whole herds at the border and threatened to shoot any cattle or cowboys who crossed. (Kansas farmers later passed laws forbidding Texas cattle from entering the settled portions of the state.) Finally, armed Kansas ruffians known as jayhawkers demanded payment from the cowboys and were ready to kill man and beast to get it. In the end the first cattle drive was a bust: of the 260,000 cattle that started out, only 35,000 cattle reached the railheads.

Though many ranchers saw their dreams of riches die on the cattle drive of 1866, one man saw an opportunity.

The Cattle Drive

Working as a cowboy on a cattle drive was one of the most difficult, dusty, and dangerous jobs a man could have. Leading the drive was the trail boss, whose job it was to plan the route, find water, locate campsites, and lead his cattle north. The trail boss also helped select a work crew, hiring one cowboy for every 250 to 300 head of cattle; this meant that a typical herd of 2,000 to 3,000 longhorns would require eight to twelve cowboys. These cowboys looked after the animals on the long journey north, riding alongside and behind the herd, keeping them moving and preventing them from breaking into a dangerous stampede. One of the most important members of the crew was the cook, often known as the Old Lady. Usually an older cowboy, the Old Lady woke before the rest to prepare meals and stayed up late to clean up after dinner. A good cook kept the cowboys happy with good "grub," tended wounds, and took care of other domestic duties. He was the second-highest-paid member of the crew behind the trail boss. The lowest-paid member of the crew was the wrangler, a younger cowboy who looked after the herd of workhorses.

A herd on the trail moved about ten miles a day. Leading the way was the trail boss and the Old Lady with his wagon. To the side rode most of the cowboys, who kept wandering cattle from separating from the rest of the herd. Bringing up the rear, and eating the dust of several thousand shuffling cattle, were the drag men. Cowboys joked that the drag was where a cowboy learned to curse.

Cowboys faced many dangers on the trail. Depending on the spring rains, the rivers they had to cross could be raging torrents or pits of quicksand. The cattle had to be coaxed into the water, and if they were spooked the entire herd might panic and turn back, or drown themselves swimming in circles. Prairie fires were another danger, for they sometimes swept so quickly across the plains that neither cattle nor cowboys could get out of their path. Tornadoes, hailstorms, and lightning strikes also posed dangers, but the worst threat of all was the stampede. Skittish animals, longhorns sometimes bolted when alarmed, and the panic of one could set the whole herd into flight. If all three thousand cattle charged at once, there was little that could stop them, so cowboys were constantly on the lookout to prevent a stampede from starting. The worst stampedes occurred at night, when a lightning strike or a sharp noise might alarm the herd and send them charging into the blackness. The cowboys had to wake quickly, mount their horses, and charge after the herd, unable to see any perils that might lie in their way. Stampedes killed cows and men by the dozens on the trails north.

At the end of the five-hundred- to eight-hundred-mile journey lay civilization—or so the small cow towns of western Kansas seemed to men who had seen only one another for weeks on end. The cattle were sold, the men were paid, and the cowboys could explore the pleasures of a cow town.

Joseph M. McCoy, an Illinois livestock dealer, realized he could not solve the problems posed by Indians or the weather, but he thought he could help the cowboys avoid crossing settled territory and provide them with a secure railhead: a town from which they could ship their cattle to the East. Taking advantage of a Kansas law that allowed Texas cattle into the unsettled western half of the state and of the westward-reaching arm of the Kansas Pacific Railroad being built across the state, McCoy located a shabby little collection of buildings known as Abilene and declared that this would be the destination of the next cattle drive. McCoy set about creating a town, hauling in lumber and building an office, a hotel, a barn, and massive holding pens. McCoy even sent men south to promote the new town. Though the cattle drive of 1867 was small, all thirty-five thousand cattle brought to Abilene were sold, and word spread that the market was open once more.

Abilene boomed in the coming years. In 1868, about 75,000 cattle arrived in the town after following the Chisholm Trail northward from Texas. In 1869 the number grew to 350,000, and in 1871, 700,000 cattle passed through Abilene on their way to market. Soon other towns began to bustle with the growing cattle boom. According to Laurence I. Seidman, author of Once in the Saddle: The Cowboy's Frontier, 1866–1896, the Salina, Kansas, County Journal reported on the impact of Texas cattle on the area: "The entire country east, west, and south of Salina down to the Arkansas River and Wichita is now filled with Texas cattle. There are not only 'cattle on a thousand hills' but a thousand cattle on one hill and every hill. The bottoms are overflowing with them and the water courses with this great article of traffic. Perhaps not less than 200,000 head are in the State, 60,000 of which are within a day's ride of Salina, and the cry is 'still they come!'"

The wild life of a cattle town

The cattle boom changed Abilene considerably. Soon the town was crowded with traders, railroad men, and ranchers, all flush with the cash that flowed through the cattle trade like water. And it was crowded with cowboys, eager for some fun after weeks of grueling labor on the trail. In his autobiography, We Pointed Them North, cowboy Teddy Blue Abbott explained what he and other cowboys were after:

"I was looking for fun, and that I believe was the case with nine-tenths of them. They were wild and reckless, it is true, and to understand that you would have to know the kind of life they led. They were not like those city fellows with a saloon on every corner. They didn't get to drink very often. They were out there for months on end, on the trail or living in some cow camp, eating bad food, sleeping in wet clothes, going without everything that means life to a man ... and when they hit the bright lights of some little cow town, they just went wild."

Fresh off the trail, cowboys galloped through town on their horses, riding up on the wooden sidewalks and shooting holes in water barrels just for kicks. Some spent their newly claimed money on fancy clothes and a new hat; others went to church. But most tied off their horses and made their way to the center of any cow town: the saloon. Bellying up to the long bar that stretched the length of the room, a cowboy could enjoy a whiskey or—if it was a small town—a variation of rotgut, raw alcohol diluted with water and flavored with whatever the bartender had on hand. Some cowboys gambled at one of the many gaming tables scattered throughout the room; the less experienced hands might well be taken in by a cardsharp (a cheater who took advantage of unskilled players). Poker was the cowboys' favorite game, though others played keno, chuck-a-luck, or faro. Other cowboys sought out dance partners in nearby dance halls. After weeks on the trail, the cowboys thought even the homeliest dance-hall women looked good; for seventy-five cents a man could dance with a woman for ten minutes. For a little more money, he might take her down the hall to one of the tiny, private bedrooms for more intimate attention.

Dancing Cowboys

The Best of the American Cowboy quotes Abilene's founder, Joseph McCoy, describing the uproarious behavior of cowboys in a dance hall:

Few more wild, reckless scenes ... can be seen on the civilized earth than a dance-house in full blast in one of the many frontier towns. To say they dance wildly ... is putting it mild. The cowboy enters the dance with a peculiar zest, not stopping to [remove] his sombrero, spurs, or pistols, but just as he dismounts from his cow-pony so he goes into the dance. A more odd, not to say comical, sight is not often seen than a dancing cowboy; with the front of his sombrero lifted at an angle of fully forty-five degrees; his huge spurs jingling at every step or motion; his revolvers flapping up and down like a retreating sheep's tail; his eyes lit up with excitement and liquor, he plunges in and "hoes it down" at a terrible rate, in the most approved yet awkward country style; often swinging his "partner" clear off the floor for an entire circle, then "balance all" with an occasional demoniacal yell. After dancing furiously, the entire "set" is called to "waltz to the bar," where the boy is required to treat his partner, and, of course, himself also, which he does not hesitate to do time and again.

The boom in Abilene brought settlers into the region, which meant that the quarantine line for Texas cattle also moved westward. By 1871 Abilene was forced to give up the cattle trade, and other towns farther west took up its joys and its burdens. Newton, Kansas, served the cattle trade for just one year; Ellsworth, Kansas, welcomed cows to town from 1871 to 1875, as did Wichita from 1872 to 1876. Dodge City, Kansas, however, holds the record for the longest-lasting cow town, for it served the cattle trade between 1877 and 1885. Between 1866 and 1885 some eight million longhorns traveled the trails north to Kansas from ranches across Texas and throughout the Great Plains. "In just one generation," writes Marrin, "the cattle kingdom spread from Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. At its height, this cattle kingdom covered an area of 130 million acres. It changed a nation's eating habits. Never before, in the entire span of human history, were so many people able to have meat on a regular basis."

After 1885 a number of factors led to the end of the cowboy era. The increased settlement of Kansas finally led to the closing of the cattle towns, and expanding railroad lines meant that ranchers could usually find closer places to drive their cattle, if they had to drive them at all. Huge blizzards that struck the Plains in 1886 and 1887 killed off cattle by the thousands, proving that cattle couldn't just be left to fend for themselves. Finally, farmers claimed increasing amounts of western land, and ranchers were forced to purchase and fence land for their cattle. Men who were once cowboys now became farmhands, but the legend of the cowboy lives on still in the novels, films, and television shows that celebrate those tough and fiercely independent men.

Cowboys and killers

Cattle towns, like mining towns and railroad camps across the West, were rough places, filled with men tough enough to endure the difficult life they had chosen, or desperate enough to make a new life in the Wild West. Though it is clearly an exaggeration to say that the West was filled with tough guys and desperadoes, it certainly claimed a larger proportion of hard and colorful characters than had ever been seen in American history. The tough guys of the West—gunfighters, bank and train robbers, cattle rustlers, and marshals and lawmen—have become legendary giants, and their exploits fill many books. The following sketches offer just a glimpse of those characters and incidents that made the West wild.

Wes Hardin

Perhaps the most brutal and prolific killer in the history of the West was Wes Hardin (1853–1895). Born John Wesley Hardin in Texas, he was a teenager when the South was defeated in the Civil War. Hardin took the loss hard and vowed that he would carry out his revenge on any Northerner who crossed his path. His career as a killer began at age fifteen when Hardin killed an ex-slave with whom he had argued. Believing that the Union soldiers who came to arrest him would not treat him fairly, Hardin ambushed and killed the three men. He then took off for the West, where he learned to gamble and further honed his skills as a killer. Joining a cattle drive in 1871, Hardin killed seven men while on the trail. Not yet twenty, he had become one of the most feared gunmen in Texas.

Though Hardin tried to settle down with a wife on a farm, his killing of two lawmen and a gambler led to his capture and imprisonment in Gonzales, Texas. Hardin soon escaped, holed up with relatives, and took part in an obscure family feud that lasted for some years. But Wes Hardin had advanced to the top of the list of most-wanted criminals in Texas and could have no peace in that state, so he changed his name and headed to Florida. Tracked down by Texas Rangers, Hardin was captured and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Serving time in the prison in Huntsville, Texas, Hardin studied theology and law. Upon his release in 1895, he went to El Paso to practice law but soon found that he preferred gambling and drinking. He was sitting in a saloon on the night of August 19, 1895, when gunman John Selman walked through the door and shot Hardin through the back of the head. The murderous Hardin had killed forty men in his lifetime and was one of the least romanticized of the western outlaws.

The fistfighting marshal

By June 1870 the cattle center of Abilene was badly in need of a marshal who could bring some semblance of order to a town plagued by hundreds of brawling cowboys. It found such a marshal in Tom "Bear River" Smith, a former New York policeman who had made a name for himself breaking up a riot in Bear River, Wyoming. Marrin describes him as a "solid, muscular man with blue-gray eyes and a soft voice [who] didn't smoke, drink, gamble, or use foul language." Smith wore guns but preferred not to use them. Instead, he confronted lawbreakers with two weapons they were not used to: his fists.

"Smith's first act," writes Marrin, "was to post signs in the saloons and gambling houses: ALL FIREARMS ARE EXPECTED TO BE DEPOSITED WITH THE PROPRIETOR." This rule didn't sit well with ruffians who were used to wearing their guns wherever they went. One such cowboy named Big Hank came up to Smith and asked, "Are you the man who thinks he's going to run this town?" Smith stared him down and demanded that he hand over his guns. When Big Hank refused, Smith flattened him with a hard right to the jaw, took his guns, and ordered him out of town. "Big Hank meekly obeyed," relates Marrin, "never again to set foot in Abilene. He had been totally humiliated." Southerners, it seemed, believed that fighting with one's fists was ungentlemanly. "Being punched in the face, knocked into the dirt, and disarmed was the worst indignity a cowboy could suffer. Smith had used a 'secret weapon' cowboys did not understand. And that in turn added to his reputation as a lawman."

Tom "Bear River" Smith went on enforcing the law in his newfangled way throughout the summer, and he succeeded in ridding the town of gunfighting. But his fists were no defense against the ax a disgruntled farmer used to chop off Smith's head when Smith came to arrest him one night in November 1870. Smith's tombstone calls him "a fearless hero of frontier days who in cowboy chaos established the supremacy of law."

The Fence Cutter's War

For years Texas ranchers had allowed their cattle to roam the open range, sending cowboys out to sort the cattle by brands when it came time for the spring roundup. This system worked well in a territory where there simply wasn't enough wood or rocks to build fences and where public lands were free for use. In the late 1870s, however, forward-thinking ranchers began using a new invention—barbed wire—to enclose lands, reserve precious water sources for their cattle, and cut down on the number of cowboys they needed to hire. Little did these ranchers know that they would soon spark a war between those who had the money to fence and those who did not.

Putting up fence was a rich man's game. It required land and money to buy the fencing. According to The Book of the American West contributor Wayne Gard, the Frying Pan Ranch spent some thirty-nine thousand dollars erecting a four-wire fence around a pasture of 250,000 acres in 1882. But what troubled the non-fencing cattlemen most was that the fencers were enclosing public water sources and keeping others from grazing cattle on public land. By 1883, when a drought made good grazing land scarce, small ranchers and homesteaders began to pressure lawmakers to ban the fencing of public lands. When they received no government assistance, they banded together in small groups with names like Owls, Javelinas, or Blue Devils and, under the cover of night, began to tear down the offending fences. "In Tom Green County," writes Gard, "night workers cut nineteen miles of fence on the ranch of L. B. Harris. The Fort Worth Gazette reported that they piled a carload of Harris' wire on a stack of cedar posts and lighted a $6,000 fire." Other ranchers received similar treatment. The Fence Cutter's War was on.

In 1883 fence cutting was reported in half the counties in Texas. Many fence cutters left ominous notes promising that fencers would meet an early end if they kept on enclosing land. Fencers replied in kind, posting signs that fence cutters risked their lives if they touched another fence. Though there was no loss of life in the Fence Cutter's War, the effects were dramatic. Newspapers estimated that losses from the war totaled twenty million dollars, and settlers moved away from areas where the hostilities were fiercest. Finally, in 1884 the state legislature passed laws forbidding the fencing of government lands and established fines for those involved in fence cutting. Fencing soon became the norm, in Texas and elsewhere. The fence cutting wars were at an end.

The end of the Wild West

When the West was wild, it was wild indeed. Gunfighters disrupted growing towns with their seemingly random violence, and armed bandits sometimes made travel difficult and costly. Lawmen—some former criminals themselves—attempted to keep the peace but sometimes did so with violence of their own. Violence was a regular part of life in the West, which had few laws or authorities. But this violent, unrestrained period of western history did not last very long. Prior to the Civil War, violence had never been perceived as an epidemic. After the war, however, the cowboy era brought hundreds of young, aggressive men into the frontier, where they clashed with the thousands of settlers who began pouring out into the western territories. Conscientious, solid citizens were trying to civilize the West, and they found the lawlessness of cowboys and other western characters a real threat. For example, the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Daily Leader declared, "Morally, as a class, cowboys are foulmouthed, blasphemous, drunken, lecherous, utterly corrupt. Usually harmless on the plains when sober, they are dreaded in towns, for then liquor has an ascendancy over them." The Wild West, which thrived between roughly 1866 and 1890, seemed so wild because the rudeness and violence of the frontier clashed with the sensibilities of an encroaching civilization.

By 1890 the forces of order had largely triumphed in the West. Towns across Kansas barred the cattle trade and rid themselves of the wild cowboys. No longer able to live the free life of the cowboy, many men returned to farms and to the civilizing influence of families. Railroads stretched across the continent, bringing settlers to once-remote areas. With the settlers came churches, civic organizations, family life, and, perhaps most important, law and order. In 1893 historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861–1932) noted something that was probably obvious to many in the West: the frontier was closed, and the West was no longer wild.

For More Information


Dary, David. Seeking Pleasure in the Old West. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Dykstra, Robert R. The Cattle Towns. New York: Knopf, 1968.

Glass, Andrew. Bad Guys: True Stories of Legendary Gunslingers, Sidewinders, Fourflushers, Drygulchers, Bushwhackers, Freebooters, and Downright Bad Guys and Gals of the Wild West. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

Granfield, Linda. Cowboy: An Album. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1994.

Horan, James D. The Authentic Wild West: The Outlaws. New York: Crown, 1977.

Landau, Elaine. Cowboys. New York: Franklin Watts, 1990.

Rainey, Buck. Western Gunfighters in Fact and on Film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998.

Rosa, Joseph G. The Taming of the West: Age of the Gunfighter, Men and Weapons on the Frontier, 1840–1900. New York: Smithmark, 1993.

Savage, Jeff. Cowboys and Cow Towns of the Wild West. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1995.

Steckmesser, Kent Ladd. The Western Hero in History and Legend. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Web sites

The American West: A Celebration of the Human Spirit. [Online] (accessed April 14, 2000).

The Great American Gold Rush. [Online] (accessed April 14, 2000).

Internet Resources about Black Cowboys and Pioneers. [Online] (accessed April 14, 2000).

Ranch-Hands and Rangers: The Cowboy West. [Online] (accessed April 14, 2000).


Abbott, E. C. "Teddy Blue," and Helena Huntington Smith. We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.

Adams, Ramon F., ed. The Best of the American Cowboy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.

Altman, Linda Jacobs. The California Gold Rush in American History. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997.

The Book of the American West. New York: Julian Messner, 1963.

Forbis, William H. The Cowboys. New York: Time-Life, 1973.

Marrin, Albert. Cowboys, Indians, and Gunfighters: The Story of the Cattle Kingdom. New York: Atheneum, 1993.

O'Neil, Paul. The Frontiersmen. New York: Time-Life, 1977.

Seidman, Laurence I. Once in the Saddle: The Cowboy's Frontier, 1866–1896. New York: Facts On File, 1991.

Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. The California Gold Rush: West with the Forty-Niners. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.

Webb, Walter Prescott. The Great Plains. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1931.