Questions tagged [old-west]

The Old West was a period of American history spanning the second half of the 19th century in the land west of up the Mississippi. Use this tag for questions about Cowboys and Indians, gunslingers, showdowns at high noon, and so on.

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What was the process to claim ownership of unclaimed land in the old West

Was wondering about the process of claiming land in the Old West (US) in the 1860-1890 time period. If I was in Nevada, say, and saw a valley that I wanted to have as a ranch, and there was no other ...
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Who kept official records in 19th century America? [closed]

I'm curious about records and archives in America during the 19th century. Was there any record keeping done? Who did it? Was there a place people could have gone to view public records? For example ...
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When did the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad connect Baltimore city to any Ohio city?

Found a lot of information about Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (including a map from 1874 which both cities are connected), but can't find when and how, specifically, the company made the connection. ...
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When did the last (non-tourist) commercial stagecoach line run in the USA?

Stagecoach at Holladay Express Office, Boise City, Idaho, circa mid-1860s. Source: A Stamp a Day- National Stamp Collecting Month: The Mail Coach Background Across from my office is a small Wells ...
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How did western saloons lock up for the night?

Old western saloon doors have spaces under them, which means people can still crawl under them and get in even if the doors are locked. How did the saloon owners lock up at night to keep people from ...
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Did the old-west style duels (as depicted in movies) actually occur?

Not sure whether this is better off here or on movies.se It's a well-known movie cliché where two gunslingers stand in the middle of the street (possibly at high noon), staring intently at each other,...
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How frequent were murders by Mormon Danites in the 1850s?

During early Mormon history, there was a band of clandestine assassins known as the "Danites" or the "Sons of Dan". They committed a form ritualized murder known as Blood Atonement. The group and ...
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Antique Colt Pistol Ammunition

I'm trying to create an accurate display of a 1902 Colt Bisley revolver (Peacemaker family) and need some technical help with cartridges of the era. I'm selecting cartridges to be displayed along ...
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Meaning of the words “Wanted Dead Or Alive”

What is the meaning of the famous words "Wanted Dead Or Alive"? Did they mean that it was for some reason legal for ordinary people to kill the fugitive described on the poster? Is there still this ...
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Questions regarding Royal Gorge Railroad War in Colorado

I am seeking information about the Colorado Railroad War, also known as the Royal Gorge Railroad War, in the Royal Gorge, Colorado. I am specifically wondering if this conflict was resolved through a ...
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What hard, physical evidence is there that Davy Crockett actually died at the Alamo?

It's often stated (perhaps correctly) that Davy Crockett perished while defending the Alamo in Texas during the revolution against the Mexicans. Many legends about this hero of the West, however, say ...
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Are there good examples of American frontier gangs terrorizing towns?

There's a cliche in western cinematography about a gang of bad guys terrorizing a small town. My question is: did such things really happen? Thought behind my question is that settlers might be tough ...
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When did prostitution become illegal in the United States and why? [closed]

In the old west, it appears that prostitution was a viable means of making a living, Perfectly legal, or at least not prosecuted. What was the status of prostitution in more established states in the ...
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Why were there so many known (and caught) stage coach robbers?

I mean, the most simplest way to prevent getting caught is leaving no tracks behind. E.g. you should have three men (should be enough, in my opinion), and then set a trap for the stage coach. As soon ...
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What were the crime rates In the American Old West?

Hollywood filmography presented a violent and morally complex vision of the American West during circa 1850 to 1900, according to which the West was a place where life was insecure and where property ...
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How many firearms were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA?

How many firearms in total were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA (cumulatively, not simultaneously)? The timeframe is what I would consider "Old West" timeframe, but starting ...
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What percentage of the population in the “Old West” actually carried handguns?

I'm hoping cenus information and historical gun manufacturing records make this an answerable question. What percentage of the population in the Old West actually carried handguns? Was it a minority ...
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When did Americans become safe from highway robbery?

The other day a friend and I were reconciling our memories of "shotgun" rules, the customs by which American teenagers determine who sits in the front passenger seat of a car. The concept derives from ...
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Did anyone find gold in California before 1848?

Is there any documentation or evidence of anyone finding gold in California before the discovery at Sutter's Mill in 1848?
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Were labor shortages ever a problem for the railroads in the Old West?

Many different rail lines were built in the western United States from the 1850s onwards. Was construction ever delayed/canceled due to difficulty in finding workers, or due to workers leaving the ...
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Did non-Indians go into Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)?

From 1854 to 1907 there was a territory reserved for American Indians (aptly named "Indian Territory") in what is now the state of Oklahoma. How exclusive was this territory? Did non-Indians go ...
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Did American Indians disrupt railroads in their regions?

In the Old West, many railroads went through Indian-occupied areas. Are there any documented instances of the Indians ever sabotaging the railroads? Please provide dates and circumstances where ...
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Did Native Americans sabotage telegraph lines running through their territory?

In the 1800s in the Western US, there were a number of telegraph lines running through territory mostly inhabited by Indians. Did they ever sabotage the lines?
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Where did the railroad companies find workers to build the rails?

In the building of the various transcontinental railroads in the western US during the late 1800s, how did the railroad companies find workers? I suppose I'm looking for an answer like "They paid a ...
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Where were the Mormons going?

From what I've heard, when the Mormons left Illinois in 1846 they hadn't decided where exactly they were going to settle. Did they have some choices they were looking at? Did they have a route they ...
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Is there evidence that working for the Pony Express was dangerous, or not dangerous?

So I was thinking about what it was like working for the Pony Express and I am wondering was it an extremely dangerous job? I'm thinking that given the success of the Pony Express it must not have ...