Thanks to True West Magazine for this content – check out their original post at http://www.truewestmagazine.com/badlands-bison-rough-riders/
Badlands, Bison and Rough Riders Medora, North Dakota, is the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Teddy Roosevelt first came to Medora, North Dakota, in September of 1883 to
hunt buffalo. He so loved the region that he later operated two ranches there, and included the town on a Presidential tour in 1903.
He later recalled that visit, saying the entire population of the Badlands “down to the smallest baby had turned out to greet me.” He “shook hands with them all” and regretted that he couldn’t spend more time with them.
The Roosevelt name still echoes at venues around town, including in the Medora Musical, an outdoor variety act based largely on the 26th president. Over three summer months, the patriotic, Western-style show draws as many as 125,000 people to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre.
“If you plan to go over a weekend, expect a sellout,” says Natalie Beard, executive director of the Medora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re quiet until June 1 and all of a sudden it’s a different place. Things start jumping.”
The town has about 350 hotel rooms, but only 112 residents. Still, it ranks as North Dakota’s most popular destination, a place of great beauty on the western edge of the Badlands.
The biggest draw is the 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park,
the entrance to which bumps against downtown. Visitors can take a 36-mile loop drive through the park, past grazing buffalo, wild horses and stunning rock formations.
The Marquis’ Dream
Set on the Little Missouri River, the town began in 1883 as a stop on the Northern Pacific Railway. Its founder, the 24-year-old French nobleman, Marquis de Mores, named it after his bride, Medora von Hoffman.
His two-story frame chateau, now part of a state historic park, has 26 rooms furnished in the finest 1880s style. Be sure to stop at the restored von Hoffman House nearby, built by Medora’s parents and recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Take a walking tour of Medora’s charming downtown, with its board sidewalks and quaint shops. The Rough Riders Hotel, completed in 1885 and originally called the Metropolitan, was renamed in honor of Roosevelt’s famed 1st Volunteer Cavalry, which stormed San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.
The lobby doubles as a library with a massive stone fireplace and floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with books about Roosevelt.
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame features a 15,000-square-foot interpretive center with exhibits that explain all aspects of the area’s Western heritage. Visit the Western Heritage & Cultures exhibit on the second floor of the museum to read about its honorees, including Sitting Bull and popular Western author Louis L’Amour.
At the Billings County Courthouse Museum, see exhibits about the pioneers and a fine gun collection. Former mayor and local historian Doug Ellison recommends reading the notes that cowboy actor Tom Mix wrote to the ranch family he worked for near town.
Mix married his third wife, Olive Stokes, in Medora in 1909. “She visited from Oklahoma and Mix pursued her here, intending to marry her,” says Ellison. “She came to buy horses and left town as Mrs. Tom Mix.”
After touring the museum’s Hall of Honor, which tells about sheriffs who’ve served Billings County, stop at Ellison’s Western Edge bookstore, where Ellison will tell you all about Fred Willard, a little-known Black Hills gunfighter who became the first sheriff. Ellison is writing a book about Willard.
Medora has a strong Custer connection, too. On May 28, 1876, as his command marched toward legend at the Little Big Horn, they camped along Davis Creek, about 15 miles southeast of town.
Unaware of what awaited them, Frank Neely and William Williams, who served under Maj. Marcus Reno and survived the fight, took time to carve their names on a sandstone bluff. Those etchings are still visible at a site called Initial Rock.
Leo W. Banks is an award-winning writer based in Tucson. He has written several books of history for Arizona Highways.
While we generally think of the Wild West as the era of the revolver—and it certainly was—the last decade of the 19th century and the dawning of the 20th century saw the debut of the automatic pistol. Early autos like the Borchardt (1893), “Broomhandle” Mauser (1896), Luger (1900), and early 1900s Colts had become available and a small number were finding their way into the hands of Westerners. Men who had made their reputations with six-shooters were taking notice of the new semi-auto handguns and a few started packing these slab-sided auto pistols.
Notable frontier figures Bat Masterson and Buffalo Bill Cody and some lawmen owned auto pistols. One former outlaw, who, ironically, started his lawless career with percussion revolvers, chose a semi-auto sidearm for protection in the early 1900s. He was none other than Frank James, the older brother of the infamous Jesse James, and former Confederate guerilla raider, train and bank robber, and deadly member of the notorious James-Younger gang of the 1860s and ’70s.
Although Frank James had been living the straight and narrow life for years after his 1883 acquittal for robbery and murder, by 1904 circumstances required his packing a gun once more. What this ex-rebel raider chose as his last sidearm was a 1903 Colt Hammerless Pocket Auto in .32 ACP (Automatic Colt’s Pistol) chambering.
Introduced in 1903 as Colt’s second pocket auto, but its first automatic with a concealed hammer, the handy little handgun was called the “Model M,” and ad vertised as a nine-shot automatic with a magazine capacity of eight rounds, plus one in the chamber. It was also promoted as an ideal hideout pistol since it was “flat like a book in the pocket.” Another John Browning-designed pistol, the 1903 Hammerless traced its design principles back to Browning’s patent of April 20, 1897, and to December 22, 1903,which covered the concealed hammer design. While barrels on the first 71,999 guns measured four inches, all models after that had 33⁄4-inch barrels. With the exception of the later-produced military models, there was no magazine safety.
Standard finish on the .32 Hammerless was blue, although other coverings were offered. Grips varied throughout production, with three types of hard rubber Colt logo’d panels used up through 1924. Later, checkered walnut with the Colt medallion adorned those up through 1945. Few guns in Colt’s history can boast of the production numbers of the 1903 .32 Hammerless with a total of 572,215 manufactured between 1903 and 1945.
In 1904, while Frank James and fellow ex-gang member Cole Younger were promoting “The Great Cole Younger and Frank James Historical Wild West Show,” trying to run it as an honest business, the owners had ideas of their own and brought in gamblers, con men, grifters and other lawless types. Concerned about the thugs the bosses were bringing with them, and after an attempt by the owners and managers at strong-arming the two former outlaws, Frank and Cole quit the show amidst a quarrel where threats were made and guns were drawn. From then on, both James and Younger “went heeled” once again.
Afterward, Frank went on a lecture tour and, while in Butte, Montana, later that year, a man who supposedly a relative of a cashier killed in the 1876 Great Northfield Raid, threatened to kill Frank James. Not one to shirk a fight, James armed himself with the 1903 Colt Hammerless. When the local authorities asked Frank to leave town, the old outlaw replied, “I will go when I am ready.” Fortunately, the would-be shooter, who was armed with a .45 caliber wheelgun, was subdued before Frank arrived at the theater where he was speaking. Even at 60-plus years old, Frank James and his 1903 Colt Hammerless were not “a pair to draw to.”
What do you think?
Content courtesy of True West Magazine – check out the original post here http://www.truewestmagazine.com/virgils-sixgun/
Virgil’s Sixgun At the Old West’s best-known gunfight, Virgil Earp may have used this state-of-the-art sixgun.
Although the infamous Gunfight Near the OK Corral is arguably the best known and most written about shootout in the Old West, little is known about exactly which guns were used by the combatants. The only firearms that can be identified with any certainty are the two 7½-inch barreled, .44-40 Colt Single Action Army revolvers used by Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury. These Frontier Six-Shooters were retrieved at the site, right after the fight and were recorded. Identification of any other firearms, such as Wyatt Earp’s sixgun, the shotgun used by Doc Holliday, or the Winchester rifle fired by Tom McLaury, is strictly speculative. There is one gun however, at least in this firearms student’s mind, as well as that of a number of OK Corral aficionados, that quite probably saw action during this legendary fracas. That weapon is Virgil Earp’s sixgun.
Virgil was known to have preferred, and often carried, a Smith & Wesson (S&W) New Model No. 3 revolver, in .44 S&W Russian caliber. It is quite likely that it was this same shooting iron that he had tucked in his waistband when he, as Tombstone’s chief of police and a deputy U.S. marshal, confronted the “cowboys,” and moments later fired during the gunfight.
Although there were several variations of the New Model No. 3 produced—including the Target, Turkish and the Frontier models—based on production dates of the various versions, it would have been the standard model Single Action that Virgil owned at the time of the OK Corral fight. Introduced in 1878, S&W’s New Model No. 3 represented the last of the company’s No. 3 series, and marked the pinnacle of their top-break single-action design. Also referred to in S&W’s 1883 catalog as the “Army Model,” the sixgun retained much of the basic profile of the earlier American, Russian and Schofield revolvers, but with a less-pronounced hump (sometimes called the “knuckle”) at the rear top of the back strap of the grip, along with a redesigned, rounded butt shape (considered by many as the most comfortable large-frame single-action grip style ever produced). While it continued the use of the earlier S&W-style, circular or “bow type” trigger guard, the distinctive hooked or spurred trigger guard, as found on the Second and Third Model Russians, was offered as an option. Another factory offering was an optional attachable shoulder stock.
Internally however, the new Model No. 3 incorporated a number of improved parts, such as a rebounding hammer with a manual half-cock notch (standard on all New Models except those with factory target sights), an improved cartridge extractor mechanism, a shorter barrel extractor housing, and a better cylinder retention mode, which omitted the need for a separate cylinder catch and retaining screw.
This state-of-the-art automatic cartridge ejector (when opened fully) S&W featured the traditional fluted cylinder, and factory finish was either blued or nickel-plated. Barrel lengths varied from a short 3½ inches up to 8 inches, with the 6½-inch barrel being standard. Weighing in at around 2 pounds, 8 ounces with the 6½-inch tube, grips of checkered hard rubber with the S&W monogram logo, or walnut, were standard. With a total of 35,796 standard model No. 3 Single Actions manufactured up until 1912, all of the New Model No. 3’s frames were turned out by 1898, which qualifies them as antiques. However, back when Virgil faced the cowboys that blustery day of October 26, 1881, if he was packing his S&W New Model No. 3, he would have been confident in the knowledge that he was facing danger with one of the most advanced six-shooters of the day!
Thanks to True West Magazine for this content – check out the original article and more of their great stories at http://www.truewestmagazine.com/new-doc-photo-discovery/
New Doc Photo Discovery? A museum in Silver City believes Doc Holliday can be seen in a local historical photograph.
Look closely at the street scene from Silver City, New Mexico. Notice the skinny cat standing by the third stagecoach window, right hand in pocket, left hand on lapel. Could that man be John Henry “Doc” Holliday?
He does not appear to be throwing up blood, drunk, cranky or ready to draw down, but the man in the photo certainly resembles the revered gunfighter who participated in the 1881 Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
We know the Earp party, including our favorite tubercular dentist, spent the night in Silver City, New Mexico, on April 15, 1882, while fleeing Arizona after Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. A Wells Fargo historian confirmed that the man sitting atop the coach, holding an envelope, is the Wells Fargo agent in Silver City, G.M. Huffaker. Some historians believe that Wells Fargo was helping Earp evade the law.
The Silver City Museum, which owns this image, sent the photo to us to investigate. A notation in the museum’s collection stated the picture was taken “sometime between May 1881 and September 1882.”
We donned our Pinkerton hats and began poking around.
Old West photo collector Robert G. McCubbin took a look and dumped cold water on the Holliday possibility. Comparing it with the full-length shot of Holliday taken in Prescott, Arizona, he says the mustache doesn’t match and the chin is more pointed in the Prescott photo. He concludes the stagecoach group “could be anyone of that period,” adding that Holliday probably would not have allowed himself to be photographed while on the run.
Gary Roberts, Holliday’s biographer, says, “…while, for historical reasons, I would like this to be a photo of the vendetta posse, I have to conclude that there is insufficient evidence to confirm that it is.”
What about the purported date for this photo? The stagecoach rests in front of the Meredith-Ailman building. Was that bank around in mid-April 1882?
Yes, the bank was around, but the building looked different then. Susan Berry, retired director of the Silver City Museum, helpfully plowed through old newspapers and found evidence that she believes places the photo after April 1882.
The New Southwest reported that a street lamp was placed in front of a building two doors north of the Meredith-Ailman building in early July 1882. The far right side of the picture shows the street lamp, which wouldn’t have been there in April.
The same newspaper reported, on July 29, the installation of large gilt letters above the doorways on the new iron front of the Meredith-Ailman building. Those gilt letters are present in this photo.
The photo, Berry concludes, was taken no earlier than late July 1882. It probably was shot before November 14, when the bank re-opened, and it was taken before May 11, 1883, when the Higbee building (next door to the bank and hidden by a tree) got a second story.
Although this is a fantastic period photo, our skinny guy is not our famous gunfighter with his posse. Such results can break the hearts of the most stalwart of latter-day Pinkertons. But we won’t give up. Only two confirmed adult photos of Holliday exist and those are not enough for a man of such legend.
We want more and vow to keep looking. If you’re out there, Doc, hold fast. We’ll find you.
Tucson-based Leo W. Banks drinks a toast to Doc Holliday whenever he visits the Palace Saloon in Prescott, Arizona.
Today we celebrate another great “Wild West” destination as featured by True West Magazine online. The original post is available here
Deadwood, South Dakota: Entertaining Guests Since 1876 Sponsored by the City of Deadwood, South Dakota
In 1876, miners looking for gold in the Black Hills came across a mess of dead trees and a gulch full of gold. They staked their claim and Deadwood was born. It didn’t take long for the tiny gold camp to boom into a town that played by its own rules.
Bars, brothels and gaming halls made up the original Main Street that would become home to legendary characters like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. While men like Sheriff Seth Bullock and Mayor E.B. Farnum tried to tame the town, the outlaw spirit never really died. Today, Historic Deadwood is still the wildest town in the West.
The entire town is a registered National Historic Landmark; but there is more to this mountain town than meets the eye. In recent years, several new properties have been built in Deadwood offering resort amenities like deluxe suites, day spas, and infinity pools. Deadwood guests can also enjoy fine dining in restaurants that feature gourmet local flavors – like elk, pheasant and bison – prepared by world-class chefs. While the food is five-star, the atmosphere remains as casual and comfortable as your favorite pair of boots and jeans.
If you’re looking for entertainment – day and night – Deadwood is the place. You’ll find 24/7 gaming with $1,000 bet limits. Try your luck at live table games, roulette, craps and the newest slot machines. Retail stores line the streets where you’ll also find live music just about every day of the year. Deadwood also hosts some of the largest – and wildest – events in the Black Hills. From the national award-winning Days of ‘76 rodeo and Kool Deadwood Nites to the free concerts with Grammy Award-winning artists on Main Street, Deadwood events are a history-making good time.
While Deadwood has evolved over the years, it has never forgotten its Wild West roots. From early May to Labor Day, visitors can enjoy daily reenactments of shootouts as well as the most famous event in Deadwood’s history – the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok and trial of his assassin, Jack McCall. Visitors can take a guided bus or walking tour and interact with Old West characters that roam the streets deputizing guests. The museums and historic Mount Moriah Cemetery – the final resting place of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock and others – are filled with stories of this town’s legendary past.
Tucked in the northern reaches of the Black Hills, Deadwood is surrounded by natural beauty and outdoor adventure. You can hike, fish, mountain bike, ATV and horseback ride through the ponderosa pines of the Black Hills National Forest. The town of Deadwood also sits on the trailhead of the 109-mile Mickelson Trail that stretches from the northern hills to the southern tip of the forest. If you love off-road adventure, Deadwood is the place to stay. You’ll find outfitters and challenging trails nearby.
Fortune and adventure seekers won’t be disappointed when they come play in Deadwood, South Dakota. After all, it’s been entertaining guests since 1876.
Plan your trip here:
Thanks to the Tombstone Vigilantes, on which this information is sourced
Resignation of Virgil W. and Wyatt S. Earp as Deputy Marshals
Tombstone, February 1, 1882
Major C. P. Dake, United States Marshal, Grand Hotel, Tombstone-
Dear Sir: In exercising out official functions as deputy United States marshals in this territory, we have endeavored always unflinchingly to perform the duties entrusted to us. These duties have been exacting and perilous in their character, having to be performed in a community where turbulence and violence could almost any moment be organized to thwart and resist the enforcement of the process of the court issued to bring criminals to justice. And while we have a deep sense of obligation to many of the citizens for their hearty cooperation in aiding us to suppress lawlessness, and their faith in our honesty of purpose, we realize that, notwithstanding out best efforts and judgment in everything which we have been required to perform, there has arisen so much harsh criticism in relation to our operations, and such a persistent effort having been made to misrepresent and misinterpret out acts, we are led to the conclusion that, in order to convince the public that it is our sincere purpose to promote the public welfare, independent of any personal emolument or advantages to ourselves, it is our duty to place our resignations as deputy United States marshals in your hands, which we now do, thanking you for your continued courtesy and confidence in our integrity, and shall remain subject to your orders in the performance of any duties which may be assigned to us, only until our successors are appointed.
Very respectfully yours,
Virgil W. Earp
Wyatt S. Earp