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Legends Letter

January, 2008


Here I am a day late and a dollar short again. Well, friends and neighbors, I must first give you my sincerest apologies for not providing the "new" content that ya'll are all used to and have come to expect. Seriously, it's the best part of my "job." But, then there's those other mundane parts as well, and I've been in shopping cart hell!! Scuze my language. Remember I told you that we were gonna have a new shopping cart in January. Well, that was the delay in getting out the newsletter, I was hoping to have it done before this went out. But, now we got another kink in the cog. My web host says I'm just too darn popular and they can't handle it anymore, so I got just a few days to get this get this whole big ole' website moved somewhere else. Yikes, yikes, yikes!! What that means to you is that next week, the website could be unavailable for a day or two as we change our hosting location; though we're doing our best to make sure that any downtime is at a minimum. If you do get an outage, please be patient, it will be back! In the meantime, I've already moved the bulletin board. Please come see the new one - it's terribly lonely out there with just a few members. Here's the link: 


With all this administrative junk, I can't even provide you with any great recent adventures -- no meaner than hell motel operators, nor Arizona border patrols, no almost falling off of steep railroad grades, no nuthin'. Oh yeah, I never told you about the steep railroad grade adventure. Ok, well, I will resurrect that escapade on the Alpine Tunnel Trail for next month.


Well, back to the site -- I've got the funniest feeling that this just might be one of the busiest years I've ever had. Ya know, this website now has more than 5,000 pages, gets some 300,000 unique visitors (that means first time visitors) a month, and some 25 million hits per month (yes, I said million.)


Still, it's just lil' ole' me putting this together, so I'll hope you'll bear with me. Hubby Dave is gettin' ready to come "on board" a little more (even though he has a full-time job and already does all the shipping for Legends' General Store.) He's one heck of a writer and has a real interest in the 1920's, especially all those "mobster" outlaws, so look forward to that comin' soon. In the meantime, he's started his own blog called Legends of America Tech. He gives you some behind the scenes stuff in running this business, but mostly he just gives away my quirkly personality (in my opinion.) Anywho, check it out! 


In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoy the newsletter and the website!!


Kathy Weiser, Owner/Editor





In this Edition: 


New Additions


Featured Travel Destination


The Old West


Featured Book




Bumper Sticker Wisdom 


Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!


As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

It's lonely at the top, but you eat better

Okay, who stopped the payment on my reality check?


Hardwater SoapLegends of America Advertising!

See your ad HERE!

New Additions to Legends of America



No, during the holiday season we didn't get "out" much other than just a couple of the "required" parties, which, I hate by the way - give me the kitchen table and a beer!! Still, regular life beyond the website must go on.........


Though new content has been a little lean, we do have a few new things. You'll see a whole bunch of new railroad stuff. Just makes sense to me - it was one of the biggest parts of the Old West. From Railroad History to Railroad Tales, it's all great stuff! Check out some of this Railroad History - Building Along The Santa Fe Trail, Penetrating The Pacific Northwest, and the biggest railroad disaster in American History -- The Ashtabula Disaster. And even more fascinating are the railroad tales - see An Encounter With Train Robbers, Bill Bradley, Gambler & Gentleman, Blue Field, Arizona & An Indian Scrimmage and The Mysterious Signal.


We also delved a little more into the California Gold Rush - Check out these new tales: Placerville, California - Hub of the Mother Lode, Coloma, California - Gold Town to Ghost Town, and James Marshall - Discovering Gold in California.


And, there's more historic destinations as well. Goldfield, Arizona, a gold mining ghost town that died twice, has been revived today as a tourist attraction. The Lost Dutchman Mine is one of the best treasure tales in the history of the American West. Shrouded in mystery, the mine is not only allegedly extremely rich in gold, but is also said to have a curse upon it, leading to a number of strange deaths, as well as people who mysteriously go "missing” when they attempt to locate the old mine. And, don't miss Fort McDowell, situated in the midst of  Indian country and surrounded by mountains, it became the embarkation point for many of the skirmishes involved in the Apache Wars.


Well, I think that's enough "new" for now, so I'll be mosyin' on.


Old West Factoids:


On August 19, 1884 John H. ‘Doc’ Holliday shot bartender Billy Allen in the arm over $5 at Leadville, Colorado.


About 1/3 of all gunmen died of "natural causes," living a normal life span of 70 years or so. Of those who did die violently (shot or executed), the average age of death was 35. The gunfighters-turned-lawmen lived longer lives than their persistently criminal counterparts.






Featured Travel Destination 


Bodie California Today


Bodie, California - A Ghostly Ghost Town


"A sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion."


-- Reverend F.M. Warrington said of Bodie, California in 1881

Like many other mining camps of the American West, Bodie, California quickly took on a lawless and wild reputation after gold was discovered. Today, it's a California State Park, filled with historic buildings as well as the Bodie Curse.

When mining began to decline along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, prospectors began to cross the eastern slope in search of their fortunes. One such man named William (aka: Waterman) S. Bodey, discovered gold near a place that is now called Bodie Bluff in 1859. Alas, the poor man died in a snow storm that very winter and never saw the new town that would be named after him.

In 1861 the Bunker Hill Mine was established as well as a mill, though the camp was called home to only about twenty miners. Bodie grew slowly and remained an insignificant mining camp for 17 years. The Bunker Hill Mine and Mill, on the west slope of Bodie Bluff, changed hands several times during the years before being sold to four partners in 1877. The name was changed to the Standard Mining Company and within months the partners discovered a significant vein of rich gold ore. Profits rose dramatically and by the end of 1878 Bodie's population had soared to some 5,000 people. The Standard Mine would yield nearly 15 million dollars in gold over the next 25 years.


Miners, gamblers and business continued to flood the area and by 1879, Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000 and 2,000 buildings. Before long the town supported some 30 gold mines, 65 saloons, numerous brothels, gambling halls, and opium dens, as well, as a number of legitimate businesses, including three newspapers, several churches, a couple of banks and a school. Every other building on the mile long main street was a saloon. Three breweries worked day and night, while whiskey was brought into town in 100 gallon barrels.

Like many booming mining camps, Bodie soon earned a reputation for violence and lawlessness. Killings were sometimes daily events and robberies, stage holdups and street fights were common occurrences in the camp.

Over the next several decades, Bodie would suffer a series of tragedies, until finally, all the gold was gone and, but six people remained in the dying town.

However, in 1962, after years of neglect, Bodie became a State Historic Park. Today, it is designated as both a California Historic Site and a National Historic Site. The old settlement is one of the largest and best preserved ghost towns in the West, boasting over 200 buildings.


Though its lawless days are over, its legends continue with a number of friendly resident ghosts, along with what's known as the Curse of Bodie, which brings bad luck to anyone who does harm to this old place. 


More ...

Featured Book:

Images of Route 66 by David Wickline

Images of 66, By David Wickline - If you've ever traveled even a little portion of Route 66, you'll know that some of the great vintage icons and photo opportunities are hard to find. Not with this book! It's like no other Route 66 book -- this one is an interactive photographic journey across the entire length of the Mother Road. This massive 386 page book has more than 2,000 images of those many "must stops" along Route 66, includes addresses and background, where possible. Click HERE for more.



Free eNewsletter


Our eNewsletter features articles on the Old West, travel destinations, ghostly legends, and subscriber only specials from our Legends' General Store. Sent directly to your inbox, grab a cup of coffee and travel the historic paths of the American West. Sign up today!


Did You Know?


North Dakota grows more sunflowers than any other state.


In New Mexico , it is against the law to dance around a Sombrero.


In Death Valley, the Kangaroo Rat can live its entire life without drinking a drop of liquid.


Arkansas has the only active diamond mine in the United States.



The Old West



Stagecoach AdvertisementCalifornia Gold Rush - There are dozens of historical events that created the "atmosphere" of the Old West. One of the biggest was the California Gold Rush. The "yell" for gold was the first call for Westward Expansion. It never stopped.


In the cold morning hours of January 24, 1848, James Marshall, a construction foreman at Sutter’s Mill, was inspecting the water flow through the mill’s tail race. The sawmill, on the banks of the American River in Coloma, California, was owned by John A. Sutter, who desperately needed lumber for the building of a large flour mill. On that particular morning, Marshall not only found the water to be flowing adequately through the mill, but also spied a shiny object twinkling in the frigid stream. Stooping to pick it up, he looked with awe at a pea-sized gold nugget lying within his hand.


News of gold, free for the taking, quickly spread. The gold discovery sparked almost mass hysteria as thousands of immigrants from around the world soon invaded what would soon be called the Gold Country of California. The peak of the rush was in 1849, thus the many immigrants became known as the '49ers. Some 80,000 prospectors poured into California during that year alone, arriving overland on the California Trail, by ship around Cape Horn, or through the Panama shortcut. The majority of them came in one immense wave during mid summer, as covered wagons reached the end of the California trail. At the same time, sailing ships were docking in San Francisco, only to be deserted by sailors as well as passengers.

The gold discovery wrought immense changes upon the land and its people. California, with its diverse population, achieved statehood in 1850, decades earlier than it would have been without the gold.

The peak production of placer gold occurred in 1853. Every year after that, less gold was found, but more and more men were in California to share in the dwindling supply. Thousands of disillusioned gold seekers returned home with little to show for their time, glad to escape with their health.

The California Gold Rush is generally considered to have ended in 1858, when the New Mexican Gold Rush began. These hearty pioneers found the land unbelievably productive, and ultimately California's great wealth came not from its mines but from its farms.


More ...


What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


I just want to let you know that I really enjoyed the newsletter this morning. Keep up the good work! Gary

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Your newsletter is so darn interesting. Thanks for it! - Nancy I just want to thank you for all your information on the totems -- you they really came through for me. In being able to help my daughter, who is in the military interpret a dream. - Irene

Hi Kathy, I ordered a photo from your company and just received it. I was very delighted with it and will recommend your product and services to my associates. Also, thank you for very fast delivery. I am doing a presentation on antique and historical photography to our local historical society, and will be showing this photo of the post mortem of Jessie James. - Judith from down under.



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Legends of America


A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded


28926 Cedar Hill Loop

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Kathy Weiser





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