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Legends Letter

May, 2007


Kathy Weiser

Ok, gang, I've been back from Arizona for a couple of weeks, and ohmagosh, what a lot of material I picked up while I was there. Hope you won’t be too bored with the Grand Canyon State by the time I’m done. We had a wild ride, ventured into some places we probably shouldn’t have, miscalculated the time and necessities along the way, and still only got into one argument during our drive over crusty desert and steep mountain ranges.

Ok, so, as the crow flies, from Nogales to Bisbee, Arizona is probably about 50 miles. Even when you travel it the way you’re "supposed to," per the many online map programs, taking good roads, it’s only about 85 miles. Nah, let’s take the back roads, crawling right along the Mexican border.

Now, I'm not saying it was a bad idea. We were just ill-prepared. I just had to see these ghost towns along this old, what ended up being mostly dirt road (though our map didn't tell us that.) And, ghost towns I saw, including Harshaw, Duquesne, and Lochiel, before moving northeast, and taking a rugged trip back into the ghost town of Sunnyside. Then, we made our way to the Coronado National Memorial. Now, while this National Park has some great history and some great views, there isn't much else. What did I expect to see -- Coronado's old tent? It IS a memorial, not a historic site, for goodness sake!

Anyway, by the time we got to the visitor's center, we had been on the road some six hours, with only two bottles of water and a yukky tuna sandwich from a grocery store in Patagonia hours before.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached Bisbee, our tempers were short and we didn't enjoy this old mining town nearly as much as we should have.

What we DID get was an adventure!  Looking back, we can laugh about it -- he haw. But, at the moment, it was a bit scary. So, along this remote piece of dirt, we see no less than 10 border patrol trucks. We also spy lots of jugs of water sitting next to or near the road. Why, I ask? Dave informs me that these are left for the illegals - too many of them have died in the desert crossing.

Oh, ok. The day before, on our way to Nogales, again on a winding dirt road, we had come across a "flock" of them, running through a grassy field and quickly squatting down as our vehicle approached.

Inevitably, we got stopped by the Border Patrol. An SUV on these back roads is suspect -- could be hiding all kinds "things" in the back. I assumed this meant illegal aliens. Hmmm, we quickly found out that there's more. Evidently, not only do these old trails harbor illegal aliens, but also a bevy of drug traffickers. Mr. Border Patrol informs us that there's few "legitimate" people who travel these back roads for fear of running into these drug runners. In any event, these two touristy folks, me, complete with cowboy hat and ghost town guide book, were allowed to pass. This was just one day on our week long adventure. To see the day by day events, check out the Legends Blog.

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 - Virginia City, Montana


The Old West - The Dalton Gang


Featured Book - All American Cowboy Grill


Ghosts & Mysteries - The Legend of La Llorona





Bumper Sticker Wisdom 


People are more passionately opposed to wearing fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than bikers.


A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.




If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?








New Additions to Legends of America



Well, for better or worse, the vast majority of "what's new" is Arizona - especially Tombstone. Though a lot of people "bag" Tombstone because it's no longer an "authentic" ghost town or because it's too commercial, it was exactly as I expected it to be and I loved it!!  For "commercial," it's one of the best, and we had a lot of fun in those restaurants, saloons, museums and shops. In any event, I can't walk in a place like that without being flooded with visions from a century ago, and the many people that once strolled those dusty streets. Check out some of these characters, such as Nellie Cashman, who was one of the first female entrepreneurs of the west, as well as an "Angel of Mercy;" John Heath who masterminded the Bisbee Massacre and was hanged by vigilantes in Tombstone ; William Breckenridge, the Cochise County Deputy Sheriff under Johnny Behan; Fred White, Tombstone's first marshal who was killed by "Curly Bill" Brocius; and last but not least -- of course, Virgil Earp.


While delving into all these folks' history, I keep running into actual accounts written in the 19th century - newspaper articles, legal testimony, etc. So, you'll also see Tombstone Historical Text, which provides an interesting view of how "they saw it then."


These excerpts are just part of a growing list of Historical Text, which is becoming massive with new "actual accounts" daily, as well as additions that have been on the website for a while. Check out the new newspaper articles on the Dalton Gang Raid in Coffeyville, Kansas.


Of course, we "bumped" into some ghosts in Tombstone. Well, not really, but intrigued with the many stories, we vastly expanded our Tombstone Hauntings article. Last, but not least, on the Tombstone front, was a major expansion of our Tombstone Gallery. What used to be just vintage photos of Tombstone has now been expanded to include current photos, as well as the history of these historic building.


You'll also find a fascinating tale of Mining and Murder in Ruby, Arizona, and a tour along the Ghost Town Trail which passes through a once thriving mining district and includes the ghost towns of Gleeson, Courtland, and Pearce.


Oh, and there's plenty more, I just gotta catch up.


I did sneak in just a couple of non-Arizona items. See the infamous Cook Gang who terrorized Oklahoma in 1894. And, also take a look at the many Civil War battles that were fought in Missouri . Because the "Show-Me-State" was "on the fence" as to whether it was pledging pro or anti-slavery, its battles were fought primarily within its own state lines, pitting neighbor against neighbor. In the end, the divided state suffered the third largest number of engagements during the war at 1,162. Only Virginia and Tennessee had more. When it was over Missouri lost 27,000 of its valiant sons. See the Control Missouri Campaign of the Civil War.


Last, but not least, I've been inundated by what I call Postcard-O-Mania. What that means is that I bought about 300 in Arizona, am sitting on probably 2,000 and am working on buying out an estate of almost 6,000. Just call me postcard girl. Anywho, there's a bunch already and a whole lot more comin'!!


Ok, I gotta get back to finishing up Arizona, cuz Texas is on the horizon for next month!  


Route 66


Did you know?......


Current maps do not include old Route 66. The last stretch of the road disappeared from "official” maps in 1984.


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


85% of old Route 66 is still drivable.


In 1984 Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a federal highway. However, daily use of the road had been gradually replaced in earlier years by the Interstates. The road was decommissioned due to public demand for better transportation as the old road deteriorated after World War II.



From Legends' General Store

Postcard-O-Mania: From postcards of the Old West to Route 66, people, animals, and soon, every state in the union, you'll find hundreds of both new and vintage postcards HERE!

Route 66 Postcard




Featured Travel Destination 




Livery and Blacksmith Shop, Virginia City, MontanaVirginia City - A Lively Ghost Town

Thinking of going somewhere cooler? Visit Virginia City, Montana, a ghost town that is very much alive. Frozen in time, this historic city provides one of the best-preserved examples of the many mining camps of the American West.

Perched high in the Rocky Mountains in a bowl along Alder Gulch, Virginia City got its start when gold was discovered on May 26, 1863. It all began when six prospectors were camped along a small stream shaded by alder trees. Thomas Cover, Henry Edgar, Barney Hughes, William Fairweather, Henry Rodgers and Bill Sweeney were randomly searching the hills when Fairweather and Edgar decided to prospect a rim rock.  As the pair were working in the creek, Edgar began to find small amounts of gold in his pan. The others soon joined him and by evening, all of them had found enough of the precious metal to know they had made an important strike.

Within a year, some 10,000 people were living in a number of mining camps lining the Alder Gulch and in 1864, Congress created the new territory of Montana, separating it from Idaho Territory. Just a year later, Virginia City stole the state capitol site from nearby  Bannack.


Like other mining camps, Virginia City, especially with its vast amounts of gold traveling the trails, was subject to outlaws. Road Agents were rampant in the area, one of which was called the Innocents and led by none other than the County Sheriff  -- Henry PlummerVigilantes ended up hanging the man, but historians of today believe that it was the vigilantes themselves, who were behind the rampant crime wave.


In the end, Virginia City died a quick death when the mining played out. The capitol was moved to Helena and the city lay mostly abandoned. However, today this old mining camp has been preserved. More than 200 historic buildings continue to stand, inviting some 70,000 tourist each year to events, museums, shops, and restaurants.



More ...



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The Old West


The Dalton Gang


The Dalton Gang has been exterminated -- wiped off the face

of the earth. -- Galveston Daily News, October 6, 1892


Amazingly, the leaders of this group, Bob and Grat Dalton started out serving on the "right" side of the law, following in older brother Frank Dalton's footsteps. Frank, who was commissioned a Deputy Marshal for the federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, often asked his brothers to help him in pursuing outlaws during his posse rides. When Frank was killed in a gun battle with the Smith-Dixon Gang, Grat Dalton took his place as a Deputy Marshal in 1889. Bob soon followed, working for the federal court in Wichita, Kansas. For a short time, the brothers served with distinction on the side of the law. But, a narrow margin separated the lawless from the law enforcers during those rough times.  Slipping from one side to the other, Bob Dalton, along with his brother Emmett, were charged with selling whiskey in the Osage Nation on March 21, 1890. Jumping bail, they soon became fugitives and obviously decided that small crimes, such as selling whiskey, just wasn't enough.


After rounding up a number of other lawless elements,  the likes of "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, "Blackfaced Charlie" Bryant, "Texas Jack" Broadwell, Bill Doolin, and others, they began a robbery spree in Oklahoma that would last until the final attempt in Coffeyville, Kansas.


Netting thousands of dollars from their multiple bank and train robberies, the outlaws gained fame across the nation as their exploits were told in hundreds of newspapers. Whether they got greedy or were looking for yet more fame is unknown, but their final robbery was to be their biggest yet - robbing two banks and the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas.

In early October, 1892, brothers Bob, Grat and Emmett Dalton, along with Bill Power and Dick Broadwell set out towards Coffeyville. Arriving on the night before, they made camp four miles west of town and on the morning of October 5th descended upon Coffeyville in disguises. They divided into two groups, with Grat, Power and Broadwell entering the C.M. Condon & Co. Bank, and Bob and Emmett crossing the plaza to enter the First National Bank. 

But the outlaws' ruse to disguise themselves failed, and within minutes, word was on the street of the attempted robberies. Next thing you know bullets are flying into the banks from the locals and an all out gunfight was on. Less than fifteen minutes after the robbers had entered the banks, eight men were dead and three were wounded. Killed were Dalton Gang members Bob and Grat Dalton, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell. Though suffering some 23 gunshots, Emmett Dalton amazingly survived to be sent to prison. In addition to the bandit deaths, local men Marshal Charles Connelly, Lucius Baldwin, George Cubine, and Charles Brown lay dead.

More ...


Old West Factoids:

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

Harry Longabaugh became known as "the Sundance Kid” because he served a jail term for horse stealing in Sundance, Wyoming .

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

One out of 17 emigrants on the Oregon Trail would not survive the trip. The most common cause of death was cholera.


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Old West Wisdom


Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money can not be eaten. -- Cree Indian Prophecy


The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.


If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.


Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Ghosts & Mysteries



La Llorona - The Weeping Woman of the Southwest


The legend of La Llorona (pronounced "LAH yoh ROH nah"), Spanish for the "Weeping Woman," has been a part of Hispanic culture in the Southwest since the days of the conquistadores. The tall, thin spirit is said to be blessed with natural beauty and long flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, she roams the rivers and creeks, wailing into the night and searching for children to drag, screaming, to a watery grave.


No one really knows when the legend of La Llorona began or, from where it originated. Though the tales vary from source to source, the one common thread is that she is the spirit is of a doomed mother who drowned her children and now spends eternity searching for them in rivers and lakes. 


The stories vary in the telling, with some saying that  the beautiful woman, who was allegedly named Maria, killed her children, while others say that they drowned when she was not paying attention. In either case, she evidently mourned them day and night, refusing to eat and walking along the river in her white gown searching for her boys -- hoping they would come back to her. Crying endlessly as she roamed the riverbanks, her gown became soiled and torn.  As she continued to refuse to eat, she grew thinner and appeared taller until she looked like a walking skeleton. Still a young woman, she finally died on the banks of the river.


In addition to our story on La Llorona, you will also see a number of interesting tales from our readers HERE.


Before I started writing about New Mexico, I had never heard this legend, but in the Southwest, virtually anyone you talk to has heard of her. More interesting, I ran into a number of folks who don't believe in ghosts, but do believe in La Llorona. Hmmm. The legend has perpetuated itself through the centuries by parents attempting to control their unruly children.


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