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Legends Letter

May, 2006

 Kathy Weiser

Well, I didn't get many articles added in the month of April as I was too busy playing with pictures and postcards and such, but I'm back...........!!  And, you'll see it in the many new tales to be found this month.  Plus, I'm trying to stock you up as I prepare for a two week vacation through Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.  Stay tuned for some "gettin' hitched" photos from New Mexico as I finally give up my single cowgirl ways and settle down to matrimonial bliss. In fact, if you're reading from New Mexico and get a hankerin' to join us for a brewsky, just show up at the Laguna Vista Saloon in Eagle Nest, where we're gonna have a hitchin' party on Monday evening, June 19th.


Dave AlexanderWhat this really means is that ole' cowboy Dave is becoming a permanent part of the Legends of America team.  In fact, our long term goals include Legends becoming big enough to keep us both busy full time as we settle down on some large ramblin' ranch in the mountains somewhere.  Well, time will only tell and you'll be sure to hear about it when it happens.


While we're on our leisurely vacation, we'll be visiting some sites we've seen in the past and pick up a few new places that haven't been graced by my camera.  Stay tuned for Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle, the historic sites in and around the one-time wild and rowdy city of Las Vegas, New Mexico and nearby Fort Union.  We'll also take in a little of Taos and Santa Fe before traveling to Albuquerque's big Route 66 Festival, held June 23-25, and meeting up with all those folks with their great photography, cars, books, and more.


Homeward bound sees us taking a circle route through Colorado, visiting Mesa Verde, Durango, Silverton, and Ouray before making our way up to Fort Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming .  Then onward through the Nebraska plains before dropping back down to the homestead in Kansas.


If you're new to Legends of America, we focus on travel destinations that appeal to the nostalgic and historic minded.  Not really interested in the glitter and glitz of the big cities, we hunt out those places with a little "elbow room," lots of history, and hidden attractions.   


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


Kathy Weiser, Owner/Editor





In this Edition: 


New Additions


The Big Texan on Your Route 66 Journey


No Law Can Make It Respectable!


Ballarat - Death Valley Ghost Town


Featured Book - Haunted Heritage


Coming Next Month:


Gettin' Hitched!


Mebbe more.  



Old West Factoids: 


Texas was the most active gun-fighting state, with some 160 shoot-outs from the 1850's through the 1890's.


Billy the Kid was born in New York City on September 17, 1859.

New Additions to Legends of America



Do your vacation plans include any of America's 388 National Parks?  Not only are these many places filled with breathtaking scenery and wildlife, they also provide an abundance of history and tales of legends and lore.


To help you decide which one might be best, check out these two new articles: Picking the Perfect National Park For Your Family Vacation and Enjoy A National Park Vacation.  In addition to those National Park favorites that we've already written about, including Crater Lake in Oregon , the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, and many more, we've added up two new great parks - the Badlands National Park in South Dakota and Death Valley, California.


Speaking of the Golden State, I promised you some California Treasure Tales, and ohmagosh, there just might be more "lost treasure" there, than any other state in America.  Check out a few of these - Honey Valley Treasure, Desert Steamers in Death Valley, Lost Mines of California, and Bandit Hordes.  And these are just a few - there's more!.


As for roadside stops, we found some interesting ones in Arkansas.  Photo opportunities abound at Booger Hollow's Double Decker Outhouse, in Hope, the self-proclaimed Watermelon Capital of the World, and the  World's Largest Spinach Can in Alma.  There are also said to be a couple of monsters in the midst including the Boggy Creek Monster in the area of Fouke, Arkansas, and another hiding in the depths of the White River.


Want to look for more monsters and legends on your summer vacation - here are a few more tales: Bear Lake Utah Sea Monster, Banshee Of The Bad Lands, The Voyager Of Whulge, Tommyknockers of the Western Mines, and Bigfoot.

When you find 'em - be sure to take a picture and send it to us!!  Hehe.


Last but not least, we've also lined a few "new" outlaws including Burt Alvord, Henry Newton Brown, Scott Cooley, Joaquin Murrieta, the Lee Gang, the Ruggles Brothers, and the first known mass murderers in the nation - the Bloody Benders.


And, naturally, you can't have the outlaws without the lawmen so we've added up a few of these courageous characters as well:  An expose on Heck Thomas, and if you can't get enough of these characters, I've started what I will call The Most Comprehensive List of Old West Lawmen on the Web.  For now, it's just the List of Old West Lawmen until it grows a little more, but even now you'll find dozens of well known and unknown characters here.  And make, sure you come back and check, cuz every time I run into a new one, he'll make the list.


Guess I better mosey on!  Until next month, Happy Travels!!


Featured Travel Destination:  Would you like to showcase your travel destination in the American West?  Be it a city or a place, just click here to see how to make that happen.  If your city has historical value and great places to visit, your town could be featured on our home page and in our newsletter.  Just zap us an Email.



From Legends' General Store

Federal Soldiers Photo PrintsCivil War & Military Photo Prints  - Vintage photographs of confederates, federals, cavalry, battlegrounds, and more!


  Conquered banner - Civil War 


Bumper Sticker Wisdom


My mind is like a steel trap: rusty, dangerous, and banned in 37 states.


Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot.


Where there's a will, I want to be in it.


Belief is no substitute for knowledge.


Featured Travel Destination 



A Very Large Steak on Your Route 66 Journey


While not technically on Route 66 today, the original Big Texan Steak Ranch first stood on Route 66 along East Amarillo Boulevard when it was built in 1960. It all began in 1959, when Bob Lee went seeking a large steak in the midst of "cow country.” To his surprise, Amarillo sported not a single cowboy steak house, which Lee soon began to rectify.

A year later, The Big Texan Steak Ranch opened, claiming to serve the largest steak in Texas. But simply serving the largest steak wasn’t enough, Lee soon began promoting a Free 72 ounce Steak Dinner if customers could eat the whole thing in less than an hour. It wasn’t long before the promotion gained national attention and travelers thinking of Amarillo, immediately associated it with the Big Texan Steak Ranch, making the restaurant a "must stop” for travelers of the Mother Road.

When I-40 barreled through Amarillo, bypassing Route 66, Lee moved the restaurant nearer the traffic, but the famous steakhouse retained its reputation as a Mother Road landmark. In addition to its more than 40 year old steak promotion and seating for 450 in its restaurant, the Big Texan also sports a motel, Old West entertainment, a gift shop, and even a Horse Hotel, all decorated to resemble an Old West town. The Lee family continues to operate the complex that is not only lots of fun, but also provides a delicious steak.

For those with a very large appetite the Big Texan is a "must stop" on your Route 66 journey through the Texas Panhandle.


From Legends' General Store


Route 66 Postcard Route 66 Postcards - Legends of America and the Legends' General Store has collected numerous postcards for our Route 66 enthusiasts.  To see this varied collection, click HERE!


We've just got in a bunch of new ones!  Check em' out!


Barstow Station, California  Chicago Navy Pier



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They too can receive updates when we add new content, provide product specials from our Legends' General Store, and more!  Click HERE to sign up for the newsletter.

The Old West


HBO Deadwood's Seth Bullock and Al SwearingenNo Law Can Make It Respectable!

What am I talkin" about?  DeadwoodHBO's Deadwood  premier anyway.  On Sunday, June 11th at 9:00 PM ET, HBO will premiere the third season of Deadwood.  Now, I dunno about the rest of you folks, but I'm waiting with bated breath.  Now, I'm not a television nut, but when it comes to history and the Old West days, I just can't resist.  Absolutely loved the first season, a little disappointed in some of the writing last season, but still looking forward to the show.  I mean, come on!  Most those folks back in them there days were lucky if they finished the eighth grade, much less these long monologues and above board conversations that even I have to get out the dictionary to understand. But, I still like the plot and the action, even if it isn't always historically accurate -- it is fun!! 

In the meantime, if you find yourself wondering what's fact and fiction, check out our Deadwood HBO page that will straighten it all out for you.  Who are the real characters, who are fiction, what really happened in Deadwood, and when.

For those of you that are diehard fans, this could be the last season of the show.  Ouch!!  Only show I watch!  Anywho, though the series has already lasted almost as long as the "real" Deadwood gold rush, those of us that are avid fans long for more.  HBO has opted to not renew the actors' contracts and the "Deadwood" creator, David Milch, has been shifting his attention to another program. Though HBO says they are still having conversations about the series continuing, the actors have been freed to pursue other commitments. 

I can't imagine Seth Bullock being anyone other than Timothy Olyphant, Al Swearengen someone other than Ian McShane, and so on. 

In the meantime, there is a huge rush of fans who are rallying to keep the program.  If you too, are one of these folks, check out a couple of these sites:

Read more about HBO Deadwood's potential demise HERE!


What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


The site was great, I  was looking at it for over an hour. I enjoy the history of the Old West , and I feel that I was born 100 years late! Thanks - Pro Bull Rider, May, 2006


I just wanted to thank you for a most enjoyable website. I've recently become somewhat fascinated with Route 66, and have appreciated your stories/photos and look forward someday to traveling it. I told a fellow Okie friend of mine about the "Spook Lights" story, and the first thing he's wanting to know, is if I'd 'had-a-few. Oddly enough, he'd never heard of it. Anyway, great website, keep up the good work! - Paul, Tulsa, Oklahoma , May, 2006


My wife and I are really looking forward to get going treasure hunting in new way! And, that is partly due to the info we got from reading your articles. We hope to be sending our new finds and pictures in the near future. Thank you so much. - Marlene and Steve, May, 2006


Tell us what you think!

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Ghost Towns



Ballarat - Death Valley Ghost Town


Sitting at the base of the Panamint Mountain Range of Death Valley, Ballarat began in 1897 as a supply point for the mines in the canyons of the Panamints.  The main mine supporting the town was the Radcliffe in Pleasant Canyon just east of town.  Between the years of 1898 and 1903, the Radcliff would produce 15,000 tons of gold ore.


The settlement, built of adobe bricks, soon sported seven saloons, three hotels, a Wells Fargo Station, post office, school, a jail and a morgue, but not a single church.  This wasn’t that kind of town.  Wild and wooly, the settlement was where the miners went to blow off some steam and relax after a hard day in the mines.  With a large population of men, the town catered to them, providing a number of "painted ladies” for their enjoyment. 


Today, this lonely ghost town still sports a couple of full-time residents and the little store is open most afternoons and weekends. Though the land is privately owned, visitors are welcome. Four-wheeling is the most popular activity, but for those who like to sightsee, the scenery is stunning and virtually unmarred by human signs.


Most of the Ballarat's adobe buildings have returned to the earth, but some crumbling walls and several foundations can still be seen, as well as a number of old miners’ cabins and other tumbling shacks.


Featured Book:  

Haunted Heritage by Michael Norman and Beth Scott

The authors have compiled an astounding collection of American ghost stories. Based on interviews with eyewitnesses, unearthed ancient archives, overheard tales, and actual paranormal visitations and explorations. From the "Haunts of Ivy," a survey of university ghosts, to an overview of spectral lights, from revolutionary spirits in New England to beyond the grave occurrences in the Badlands, Haunted Heritage is the ghost story collection for all of North America.  New - Hardback.

Feedback and Suggestions



We always appreciate feedback about the website and our newsletter.  Do you have a suggestion about content that you would like to see, or perhaps, would like to contribute a photograph or a story?  We would love to hear about it!  We also want to hear about suggestions for improvement.  See a link that doesn't work or a picture that doesn't appear -- please let us know.  Just drop us a line at our  Email address and tell us what you think.






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Legends of America


A Travel Guide for the Nostalgic & Historic Minded


28926 Cedar Hill Loop

Warsaw, MO 65355



Kathy Weiser





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