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Legends Letter

March, 2009


Lake SnowHappy Weird Weather, all! Don't know if this has something to do with "Global Warming," or more likely, is just typical of Missouri weather, but just this week, I have been digging in the dirt in a sleeveless shirt, watched it pour warm rain at 66 degrees, and stared at a snow covered lake. It was pretty, but it was also pretty weird. In the time its taken me to put this newsletter together, I've been back outside, digging in the dirt (albeit, very muddy) again in 65+ degrees and it's supposed to be 70 tomorrow. No doubt, I'm preaching to the choir, as it is seemingly "weather weird" everywhere.


In the meantime, I've just been itching to get on the road. It's been  too long since I've been a site-seein' and turning up the dust on lonely roads. As the schedule is hectic, I've planned just a brief trip out to western Kansas at the end of the month, wanting to see some things I either haven't seen as a kid or haven't seen at all (even though I grew up in Kansas.) Though the "Land of Oz," is by far, not one of the primary tourist destinations in the U.S., for the history buff, it is filled with loads of tales and historic sites, from the many pioneers that crossed these vast prairies on the Santa Fe Trail, the Butterfield Overland Dispatch to Denver during the Colorado gold rush, the homesteaders that planted themselves here in order to ensure that Kansas became a free-state, Indian Wars, rough and rowdy cowtowns and more!


So, I called up an old friend and at the end of the month, barring any unexpected blizzards or more weird weather, we'll be off. Can't wait to get some new pics, some new tales, and lots more history.


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 - Fort Smith, Arkansas


The Old West - Frontier Remedies & Cures


Ghostly Legends - Phantoms of Vallecito Stage Station


Featured Book - Route 66 Images Packagel



Hardwater SoapLegends of America Advertising!

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New Additions and Feature Stories



In anticipation of our trip westward, I sometimes like to write about places before I visit -- that way I'm sure not miss anything. So, I spent quite a little bit of time writing about Kansas Forts. I think there just might have been more forts in Kansas than any other state. Though many of these have returned to Mother Nature, the "Sunflower State"  once had a variety of forts that protected the trails, sites that were Confederate and Free-State during Bleeding Kansas days, and places that served as trading posts during the early years of westward exploration. Many of these destinations, I have already checked out, such as Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Scott, and Fort Blair in the eastern part of the state. However, there are more out west that I'm very much looking forward to, such as rediscovering Fort Dodge, Fort Hays, and Fort Harker ; checking out Fort Larned for the first time, and traveling the old path of the Butterfield Overland Dispatch along the Smoky Hill Trail. Along the line, we'll also take a 60 mile round-about detour along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway.  


While I was checking all this out and continually bumping into stagecoach stories, I went on another one of my "benders," suddenly being obsessed with stagecoaches, their trails, tales, lines, and people -- from the stagecoach kings to the drivers. Now, that's a big project that will continue to grow for a while. In the meantime, check out a few interesting stagecoach personalities including John Warren Butterfield, John Braden, Ben Holladay, Henry James "Hank” Monk, and more. Also see the "powerhouses" that ran the staging business including American Express, the Butterfield Overland Stage Company, Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company, and Wells, Fargo and Company. But, the most interesting thing to me are the Stagecoach Tales, which provide a peek at some of the very interesting stories along the many routes -- check out A Journey to Denver via the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, Knights of the Lash, Phantoms of Vallecito Stage Station, and lots more. And, this bit of stagecoach history is just scratching the surface --there will be many more to come.


On different subjects, you'll see a bit about Colorado Train Trips and Train Travel in Texas as well as a little more about Washington state including Fort Vancouver, Travel Destinations in Grays Harbor County, and Washington State Parks.

With the help of one of our readers we also "discovered" another New Mexico ghost town -- Lake Valley, a formerly rich silver mining town.


Now, I feel as if I've met my "quota" so on I go to another adventure, or, mebbe, a mundane task.



Bumper Sticker Wisdom 

Yes, this is my pickup. No, I will not help you move.

Tell me to "stuff it." I'm a taxidermist.

Free horse apples for all tailgaters.


Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!


Old West Wisdom:


A closed mouth gathers no boots.

Don't name a cow you plan to eat.

Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for. 




Native American Proverbs:


They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind. - Tuscarora

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand. - Tribe Unknown.

When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. - Arapaho



Featured Travel Destination 



Fort Smith National Historic SiteFort Smith National Historic Site - On the isolated edge of the American Frontier, Fort Smith was established on Christmas day, 1817. Under the command of Major William Bradford, the soldiers’ initial task was to keep the peace between the Cherokee and Osage tribes. However, this function was short lived and the fort closed seven years later.


However, that was not to be the end. Two years after Arkansas gained statehood, an act of Congress approved a second fort in 1838. Designed as a massive fortification, the army was not nearly so enthusiastic for the rebuilding of the fort as were the politicians.

Due to this reason, labor difficulties, and budget overruns, it would be eight years before it was completed.

When the garrison was finally done in 1846, less than half of the original number of buildings were constructed. The fortification wall, originally designed to be twelve feet high, ended up being anywhere from six to twelve feet tall and cannon platforms that were to be built at the corners of the fort, were never completed. Eventually, these platforms were converted into warehouses.

This second fort was designated as the "Motherpost of the Southwest" in the 1850’s, supplying military forts further to the West. During the Civil War, the fort became a focal point of operations, as both armies utilized the location.

When the war was over; however, the post began to lose its usefulness and within five years both Officers’ Quarters were destroyed in fires. In the summer of 1871, U.S. Army troops left Fort Smith for the final time.

However, the facility was not to be vacant for long. When the federal court was relocated to Fort Smith from Van Buren, it took up residence at the old fort. The federal court had jurisdiction over Indian Territory which had become filled outlaws who thought the laws did not apply to them.

Replacing Judge William Story, whose tenure had been marred by corruption, Judge Isaac Parker arrived at Fort Smith on May 4, 1875. For the next twenty-one years Parker served as Judge, later earning the nickname of "Hanging Judge" for the number of death sentences he handed down. During his tenure, 79 men were hanged at Fort Smith.

With the coming of federal courts in Indian Territory, Fort Smith's jurisdiction ended. Judge Parker died two months later.

Today, Fort Smith has been designated as National Historic Site, which includes the remains of the two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas.


Featured Book:


66 Images Package


Images of Route 66 by David Wickline

Images of Route 66 - Volume II by David Wickline





An interactive photographic journey across the entire length of the Mother Road. The first book is 386 pages with 2,000 images of those many "must stops" along Route 66. Volume 2 features 2,100 photos.    





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The Old West



Old Time RemediesFrontier Remedies & Cures - Ok, though we say it all over the place, that these old cures and remedies are for interest only and we don't recommend that you use them, we get blasted here and there for even "publishing" them. On the other hand, we also get feedback, that people try these things and they work. In any event, it's an interesting piece of history.


I smile to think of what they used

To help us kids survive,

But I am "going on" 69

And very much alive.

My sorest throats were eased, and I

Still hold no bit of rancor

To think of sucking sugar lumps

With a drop or two of camphor.



Back in the ole' days, they wanted to heal their illnesses every bit as much as we do today. Unfortunately, they didn't have the means, but, ya gotta give them credit for trying. Some of these old remedies, believe it or not, have actually worked to develop the medicines of today.


So, here's a couple of things they tried back then:

  • Acne - Wash your face with a wet diaper.

  • Anemia - Eat raw liver and drink fresh blood.

  • Baldness/Thinning Hair - Smear your head with fresh cow manure.

  • Burns - Put fresh calf feces in a flour sack, cover the burn and leave it overnight.

  • Prevent Colds - Eat an onion sandwich and wash your hair.

  • Earache - Have someone blow tobacco smoke into the ear five times while saying, "Hurt, hurt, go away; go into a bale of hay.”

  • Mumps - Tie a black sock around your neck.  To keep mumps from going down on a boy, tie a red cloth around his waist.

  • Sore Eyes - Catch some bedbugs and crush them. Mix with salt and human milk. Rub this mixture on the eyes night and morning.

This is just a "taste" of these many remedies. More ...




Did You Know??

Stage drivers drove from the right side of the seat?

The first gold strike in the Old West was made by Jose Ortiz in 1832 south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in what would quickly become the boom town of Delores.

Established in 1827, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is the oldest military post in continuous operation west of the Mississippi.




Custom Postcards - Legends of America and the Legends' General Store introduces our own line of custom postcards. Utilizing original graphic designs and our own photographs, these postcards are exclusive and can only be found here! To see this new and expanding collection, click HERE!


Custom Arizona Postcard  Custom Old West Postcard  

Ghostly & Other Strange Legends



The Phantoms of Vallecito Stage Station, California - Not only is the Vallecito Stage Station in San Diego County, a California Historic Landmark, it is also reportedly haunted.


Located on the west side of the forbidding Colorado Desert, the name "Vallecito" means "Little Valley," which dates back to the times when the Spaniards were exploring this vast land. The valley, with its natural spring and grasslands, was a welcome relief to travelers after crossing the desert, which they called "The Journey of Death."


The road through the valley was the only wagon road into southern California and during California's Gold Rush days, thousands of prospectors passed through Vallecito, refreshing both themselves and their animals.


In 1854, two men by the names of Samuel Warnock and Joseph Swycaffer, implemented the first regular mail route in southern California. The semi-weekly horseback delivery between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona made Vallecito a regular stop along its route. In the fall of 1857, the nation received its first overland Atlantic to Pacific mail service when James E. Birch's San Diego-San Antonio mail began operation. The forerunner of the Pony Express and the northern stage lines, it was a known as the "Great Southern Overland," but more familiarly called "The Jackass Mail."

Though a welcome relief after days of exhausting travel through the desert, the stage station also had its dark side. Like numerous other places of the Old West, the station was witness to murder, robberies, and daily human miseries. It is from this darker side, that the station allegedly became haunted by the spirits of those who had met their death there -- natural or otherwise.

One of the ghostly tales is the specter of the White Horse of Vallecito that allegedly began with a stage robbery long ago.


More ...


What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


This web site is fantastic! This lady, Kathy R Weiser, has done a better job than most everything I've ever seen!!! I sure wish there were more like her. I'm 72 and have been doing research and metal detecting for 45 years. This website is the greatest!!  - Daniel - Arizona


I live in Oklahoma and am a real old west enthusiast and I found your web site one day by accident. I am currently working in Iraq, and when things get slow I like to go into your site and read the stories. Keep up the good work and I'll keep reading your interesting articles. -- Doug - Oklahoma



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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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