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Legends Letter

April, 2008

 

Kathy Weiser - Cowgirl Drawing

We just got back from a wild ride in Utah and what a great trip!! Logging more than 2,000 miles in about 5 days, we covered a number of National Parks and a whole bunch of ghost towns. Dave attends a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada every year, and most times I tag along for at least a portion of it. Quite frankly, Las Vegas bores the heck out of me, but there's lots to see when you rent a car and get the heck out of "Dodge." In the last several years, I've covered most every place that's day-trippable from the Sin City, but I had two days on my own before we headed out to Utah. I did find two "new" mining camps that I hadn't covered yet - Goodsprings and Searchlight, Nevada and I also took the opportunity to retrace just a small portion of Route 66, including Needles, California and Oatman, Arizona.

 

While I'm toodling around the mountains and cliffs of Arizona, I get quite the strange phone call from someone from OK Magazine regarding Route 66. I'm a thinkin' an Oklahoma magazine, right? Nope, it's that Hollywood magazine and they end up using a quote and publishing our website name in this weeks addition. Very cool! Dave tells you more HERE

 

When Dave finally gets his conventioning wrapped up, we then headed east into southern Utah, a place I have never had the opportunity to visit before. We first make our way northward stopping at the ghost town of Silver Reef, before making our way eastward along the Virgin River. Dork that I am, I can't resist having my picture taken beneath the town sign in Virgin, Utah. Then onward across southern Utah to the ghost town of Grafton, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Staircase National Monument, Canyon Lands National Park and Arches  ational Park, with a few Utah State Parks thrown in between. This is absolutely breathtaking landscape and I've never seen such changes in geography in such a short span of mileage. From desert, to mountains, pine trees, snow, towering red cliffs, and what I can only describe as something that looks like another planet, southern Utah is amazing. But, is it possible to get National Park weary? I know that sounds terrible, but after several days, we were ready for another scene. We then headed north for more ghost town views along the Colorado border and in Carbon County, before making our way back to Nevada.

 

Amazingly, I even managed to keep up with my blog for a change as I visited these many places. You can see the journey HERE. And, for once, there were no major "adventures" that could lead me down a path to some kind of trouble. Well, there was that horse that bit me and my weird "animal attraction" - more on that on the blog as well -- HERE.

 

Guess I better get going. 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 - Oatman Arizona

 

The Old West - Slicker War of Missouri

 

Ghostly Legends - Cheyenne, Wyoming

 

Featured Book

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Bumper Sticker Wisdom 

 

Do they ever shut up on your planet?

 

 

I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.

 

 

If you don't like the news, go out and make some.

 

Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!

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New Additions to Legends of America

 
 

Fort Caspar, WyomingBefore we set out on this month's trip, I got on a roll about Old West forts. Kind of like ghost towns to me, I find these places fascinating, and determined once again to have the most comprehensive list on the web, you'll find lots of new ones. In Wyoming, read about Fort Bonneville, Fort Caspar, Fort H.W. Halleck, Fort Reno, Fort Yellowstone, and more. In Utah, you find summaries of Fort Buenaventura, Fort Deseret, Fort Duchesne, Cove Fort, and Fort Utah and Fort Douglas, which is allegedly haunted. In Nebraska there are Camp Sheridan, Fort Atkinson, Fort McPherson, Fort Mitchell and lots of others. And in Montana, you'll find both military and trappers forts at Fort Assinniboine, Fort Custer, Fort Maginnis, Fort Missoula, and Fort Owen.

 

I also got obsessed with expanding some of our current lists especially the Indian Wars, where I added up named Military Campaigns of the Indian Wars and an Indian Wars Timeline, as well as adding the The U.S. Army's perspective on the Indian Wars in article entitled Winning The West: The Army In The Indian Wars. I also did a major expansion to our Gunfighters List so that we can finally say with absolute certainty, that you can find more gunfighters here than anywhere on the world wide web!

For more on the Old West, see The Lawless Horrell Boys of Lampasas, Texas, John Selman, a Wicked Lawman and Vicious Outlaw, and William "Russian Bill" Tattenbaum, the Noble Outlaw. And then, writing up Utah when we got home. I couldn't wait to add articles on all these Utah ghost towns. Two of our favorites were the two old Mormon settlements of Fruita, located in the Capitol Reef National Park and Grafton, just outside of the Zion National Park. Both of these old farming communities were so beautiful that we could have moved there.

 

We ran into more great ghost towns in the desert near the Colorado border. Thompson Springs, Utah reminds me of a Route 66 ghost town with good reason, as it died when it was by bypassed by I-70. The same was true for Cisco, a parched old railroad town where Dave was sure we were going to get kidnapped, shot, or worse. And in Sego Canyon, we get to see not only the old coal mining camp of Sego, but also some centuries old Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.

Back in Nevada, I enjoyed a sunny afternoon with several old timers at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, and made a tour through the old mining camp, but no longer ghost town, of Searchlight.

 

Stay tuned, I've only scratched the surface of writing up Utah, there's lots more to come.

 

Gotta run!

 

Old West Factoids:

 

Sixty-Five U.S. Deputy Marshals were killed in the line of duty between 1875 and 1891 while enforcing the law for "hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

 

America's first train robbery is believed to have occurred on October 6, 1855 in Jackson County, Indiana. The two bandits, John and Simeon Reno, took $13,000 from the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.

 

There were about 45,000 working cowboys during the heydays of the cattle drives. Of those, some 5,000 were African American.

 

Annie Oakley, who's real name was Phoebe Anne Mozee, never lived farther west than Ohio.

 

Charles Goodnight, on his first cattle drive to Colorado, invented the chuck wagon by revamping an Army surplus wagon. Devising the cowboy version of meals on wheels, the wagon was complete with compartments for bacon, beans, coffee, spices, flour, and liquor.

 

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Featured Travel Destination 

 

 

Oatman Arizona Main StreetOatman - A Living Ghost Town - One of my all time favorite places in the American West -- Oatman, Arizona is not only filled with the typical tales of a ghost town, but is also on old Route 66.  

 

Just across the Colorado River and up the hill from Laughlin, Nevada, Oatman isn't exactly ghost town, but close enough, considering that it once boasted almost 4,000 people and now supports just a little over 100 residents year-round.

 

In its heyday, from the early 1900s to the 1940s, Oatman and the nearby town of Gold Road were the largest producers of gold in Arizona.

Gold was first discovered in Oatman in 1902 by a man named Ben Taddock who, while riding along the trail, saw free gold glittering on the ground and immediately filed a claim. A tent city soon sprang up as other miners heard of the gold find and flocked to the area.

 

In 1909 the town changed its name in honor of Olive Oatman, who was kidnapped as a young girl by Apaches after they had massacred her family. The Apaches then sold her to the Mojave Indians, whom she lived with for five years. Olive was rescued in 1857 near the site of the town.

 

The settlement then began to fall on hard times until more rich veins were discovered in 1910 and 1915.

 

When Route 66 was first built in the 1920s, several supporters worked to have the highway parallel the railroad through Yucca, where its supporters lived. However, Oatman was at its peak as a mining community and had more clout. So, even though it made the drive more difficult on those old Model-T's, the road took the hazardous journey up Sitgreaves pass and bypassed Yucca.

 

By 1930, it was estimated that 36 million dollars worth of gold had come from the mines. The town boasted two banks, seven hotels, twenty saloons and ten stores. There were nearly 20,000 people living in Oatman area.

 

But like other mining towns in the Old West, Oatman's gold was finally depleted and when Route 66 was changed to bypass the town in 1952, it was soon reduced to a ghost town with a population of only 60.

 

Though Oatman is only a shadow of it's former self, it is well worth a visit to this lively "ghost town” that provides, not only a number of historic buildings and photograph opportunities, but the sights of burros walking the streets, as well as costumed gunfighters and 1890s style ladies strolling.

 

More ...

 

Featured Book:

 

From Hardtack to Home Fries by Barbara HaberFrom Hardtack to Home Fries by Barbara Haber

Culinary historian Barbara Haber takes a unique approach to the history of cooking in America, focusing on a remarkable assembly of little-known or forgotten Americans who helped shape the eating habits of the nation. New, paperback.

 

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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!

 

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The Old West

 

 

A ShootingSlicker War of Benton County, Missouri - In the old fashioned tradition of a Hatfield and McCoy type feud, was the "Slicker War" of Missouri in the 1840s. The feud was between Hiram Turk and his three sons against Andy Jones and his four sons. What started out as a family affair eventually drew in more people in the "war” that would last over the next several years.

 

Migrating from Tennessee around 1839, Colonel Hiram Turk and his family set up a store and a saloon south of Warsaw. Though the family was described as well-educated and courteous, they were also known to never back down from a fight. Also moving to Missouri in the 1830s was the Andy Jones family from Kentucky. The Jones family settled along the Pomme de Terre River and before long, their gambling and horse racing habits were well known. They were also suspected of counterfeiting.

 

The whole affair began on Election Day of 1840 when Turk's store was serving as one of the local polling places. When Andy Jones came in, he and one of Hiram's sons, Jim, got into an argument. The dispute soon escalated into a fight that included Hiram Turk and his other sons, one of whom, named Tom, pulled out a knife. Though no one was seriously injured in the scuffle, the Turks were charged with assault and starting a riot.

 

Witnessing the entire skirmish was a neighbor named Abraham Newell. However, on the day that the Turks were to face a judge, Jim Turk threatened Newell with a six-shooter if he were to testify against them. When gun play erupted, Jim Turk lay dead on the ground and Abraham Newell soon disappeared from the area.

 

Taking vigilante-like action, Turk's sons publicly announced that they and their allies were going drive out the seedier elements of the area, including thieves, counterfeiters, and murderers. This obviously included the Joneses. Area residents of Benton and Polk Counties (Hickory County was later formed from southern Benton and northern Polk County) began to ally themselves with the two factions.

The Turk "Posse” was quick to make unwelcome visits on virtually anyone allied with the Joneses, often tying them to trees and whipping them with hickory switches. These beatings were known at the time as "slickings,” hence the " Slicker War.”

 

Slicker organizations also operated in St. Charles and McDonald Counties in eastern Missouri, as well as several other areas throughout the state.

 

More ...

 

What our readers are saying about Legends of America:

 

Your e-newsletter fascinates me every time I open it. What research it shows. - Diane, Phoenix, Arizona

 

Great Site!  Incredibly important to preserve our American historical landmarks, whether they be buildings, roads, bridges, what have you. Would be nice to see the entire Route 66 "refurbished" rather than the old remaining sections simply preserved. - Steve, Hawaii

 

Kathy.... you are amazing! Don't change a thing. I have read your newsletters for quite some time now and find myself going over and over the interesting material you include in each issue. Your writing style is truly a gift and very much appreciated here. Congratulations for creating the best site on the internet. - Utah

 

 

 

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Ghostly Legends

 
 

Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1868.The Ghosts of Cheyenne, Wyoming - Cheyenne, Wyoming got its start in July, 1867, when General Grenville M. Dodge and his survey crew platted the site now known as Cheyenne, Wyoming in anticipation of the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad through the territory. By the time the first track was built some four months later, 4,000 people had already migrated to the new city. The railroaders and first settlers were quickly joined by gamblers, saloon owners, thieves, opportunists, prostitutes, miners and cowboys, as well as legitimate business men. The fledgling city, busting at the seams, was a wild and lawless place during its first days so it should come as no surprise that it is said to be one of the most haunted places in Wyoming. In the days preceding Halloween, a Cheyenne Trolley offers two tours per night for ghost hunters hungry for the tales. Here are but a few of the legends we've picked up along the way.

 

At the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, formerly Fort D.A. Russell, established in 1867, a number of legends persist that

many  old cavalry soldiers continue to linger at the base, often seen walking upon the grounds or in the dormitories. At the 1886

St. Mark's Episcopal Church ghostly tales persist that the historic church is haunted by a stone mason who was killed while helping to build the church as well as its original priest. Many have claimed to have heard the sounds of a church pipe organ, that was once located in the bell tower, though it has long been removed. Others have reported that the church bells sometimes ring of their own accord, and and whispers come from unseen entities.

 

The most haunted building in town; however, is allegedly the Plains Hotel, a luxurious hotel that opened in 1911.When a newly married couple checked in here years ago, the bride caught her groom with another woman and after killing them both, she turned the gun upon herself. All three are said to haunt this historic hotel, which is fully restored and continues to cater to travelers today.

 

More ...

 

Did You Know??

 

The old round barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma is the most famous and most often photographed barn on Route 66.

 

More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States.

 

Fort Robinson, Nebraska was once a World War II German P.O.W. camp and is now a state park.

 

John Steinbeck, in his novel Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, was the first to refer to Route 66 as "Mother Road.”

 

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Kathy Weiser

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