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Legends Letter

May, 2008

 

Kathy in Nevada with a stupid hatWell gang, we haven't been anywhere interesting the last month as far as Old West destinations, as Dave had a little foot surgery and just hasn't been up to the task. We'll get him whipped into shape and headed out for a long "hike" soon.

 

We temporarily relocated to our little lake view in Warsaw, Missouri from Kansas City, as there's no stairs in this lil' shack and Dave's been working from "home" as I play nursemaid. Think I'm much better at this website business.

 

On the good news side, being down here gives me an opportunity to find a little "balance" in my life. In Kansas City, we live in a maintenance free townhouse - they mow the lawn, they do the landscaping, take care of the fence, roof, etc. So, there are literally days when I don't leave the house, sitting in my cramped little office, surrounded by books, postcards, and Route 66 paraphernalia, I just hole up and geek. Sometimes, I just wear my "indoor uniform," i.e.; jammies for days. Oops, shouldn't be telling you that.

 

Anywho, down here, with everything lush and green, I find myself constantly outside, planting, raking, or moving the constantly proliferating rocks that tend to "grow" in the yard. Or, sometimes, er, many times, just sittin' and lookin' at the lake. Well, whatever it is, it rejuvenates me out of the winter blues, makes me less of a cranky ole' woman, and gets some much needed exercise after sitting in my jammies all winter. Thank goodness for spring and summer!!

 

Some other good news - next month is our 5th anniversary! Can't believe I've been at this for that long. Time truly does fly when you're having fun. A lot of you have been around the entire time, or for several years anyway, and I just want to say a big THANK YOU!

 

This lil' ole' website, which began as a personal hobby before making its way into a full-time business, is the most satisfying "job" I've ever had in my life and thanks to all you readers, it's gonna keep on keepin' on!

 

In the meantime, it's given me a lot of time for catching up on lots of new stuff, especially Utah, as promised, plus several Old West characters.

 

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 - Shaniko, Oregon

 

The Old West - Big Nose George Becomes a Pair of Shoes

 

Ghostly Legends - Arkansas White River Monster

 

Featured Book

 

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Bumper Sticker Wisdom 

 

Consciousness: that annoying time between naps

Suburbia: Where they cut down all the trees and then name streets after them.

My Kharma Ran Over Your Dogma

 

Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!

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New Additions to Legends of America

 
 

Utah, Utah, and more Utah. Well, never having visited the Beehive State, I was a little short on tales, so now I'm filling it up, or trying to anyway.

 

One of the most moving places that we visited was the Mountain Meadows Massacre site, where approximately 120 pioneer men, women, and children in a wagon train from Arkansas were murdered by a band of Mormons set on a holy vengeance in 1857. Though I had already written about the massacre, suddenly I just had to know more. So when I get obsessed and start digging into all the details of some piece of history, it lands here. You will now find updates to our original article, as well as Historical Accounts written in the 19th century, a list of the Wagon Train Members, Victims & Survivors, and finally a list of the Primary Assassins. The entire history of this event is not only fascinating but continues to generate fierce controversy and deep emotions even to this day. Finally, one cannot speak of Utah, without mentioning the man who made this one time remote region into a state - Brigham Young.

 

On a different path were the many ghost towns of Carbon County, a coal mining mecca at the turn of the century. Throughout the county, numerous ghost towns speak of the coal mining heydays that were such a vital part of the county's economic and social development. Though many of these survived as late as the 1970s, the hills are dotted with ghost towns today. On Consumers Road can be found the remnants of Coal City, Consumers, Sweet, and National. Further north in Spring Canyon are the old townsites of Peerless, Spring Canyon, Standardville, Latuda, Rains, and Mutual. These places were fascinating and filled with tales of fortunes, mining tragedies, violence, and outlaws.

Yet more Utah history can be found at the Zion National Park, the forgotten ancient peoples of the Fremont Indians , and the sandstone ghost town of Silver Reef. All in all, we were thrilled with Utah , its history and geography.

 

But, not getting too stuck in one place, you'll find a large expansion in our Gunfighter List, with specifics on Frank MacNab, killed in the Lincoln County War, and cowboy gunfighter, Josiah Gordon "Doc" Scurlock. Another one of the many feuds of the American West can be found in the Tutt-Everett War, a political dispute in Marion County, Arkansas that escalated into major violence. And, not forgetting the "ladies," you'll find Kitty Leroy, a gunfighter and gambler, who was one of the Old West's best women poker players who ran a saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota.

 

Last but not least you will find an eerie "ghost town lake" in southern California called the Salton Sea. Like the name sounds, this lake, the largest in California, is salty, and as the saline levels rose it began to kill the wildlife and the resorts, resulting in a coastline of ghost towns. In addition to numerous abandoned structures, one of these old towns also displays one of the quirkiest places in the Golden State - Salvation Mountain, an artificial religious folk-art mountain that sits right outside Niland, California.

Ok, nuffs, enough.

 

 

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Old West Factoids:

 

Lewis and Clark never knew it, but the Spanish sent out four expeditions between August, 1804 and August, 1806 to try and stop them.

 

Contrary to popular thought, most cowboys didn't shoot up the the many towns that they arrived in, as most of them didn't carry guns while they were riding.

 

From 1778 until 1871, the U.S. Government ratified 370 treaties with the Native American Tribes. After 1871, acts of Congress, executive orders and executive agreements replaced the rarely enforced treaties.

 

When the town prostitute and do-gooder, Virginia Marlotte, died in Pioche, Nevada , she was given the biggest funeral in the town's history.

 

Jesse James was called "Dingus" by his friends.

 

 

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Featured Travel Destination 

 

 

Shaniko HOtelShaniko, Oregon - Wool Capitol of the World - An almost ghost town, the Shaniko area was first settled by a pioneer named August Scherneckau. Arriving after the Civil War, Scherneckau bought a farm near the present site of the town and when Indians pronounced his name as Shaniko, the locality became known as such.

 

On the stage route from The Dalles to central Oregon , the Scherneckau ranch soon became the site of a stage station. The first post office was established on May 23, 1879, with August Scherneckau as its first post master. Officially called Cross Hollows for the local topography, the post office lasted only eight years, closing on May 27, 1887.

 

In 1900, an official community was planned and built by businessmen in The Dalles for the terminus of the Columbia Southern Railroad. The station was to be utilized to collect the enormous quantities of wool being produced in central Oregon – a role, it continued to play into the 1940’s.

In the 1910 census, Shaniko claimed a population of 600 and its future seemed assured. However, in 1911 the Oregon Trunk Railroad, linking Bend (70 miles to the south) to the Columbia Gorge, began to draw business away from the more isolated Shaniko. Soon thereafter, a fire destroyed much of the downtown business district and there were no funds to reconstruct the damaged buildings. Although homesteaders, ranchers, and sheep men continued to reside in the area, Shaniko began to fade.

Today, this almost ghost town supports a population of just 20-25 people, but there is much to see in Shaniko and many claim it is the best ghost town in Oregon. The enormous sheep sheds of that era still stand on the edge of town.  Several of its buildings are maintained in an Old West theme, complete with authentic boardwalks and false fronts.

Still standing are the old water tower, the City Hall complete with old jail, the school, and post office. The Shaniko Hotel is the town’s biggest attraction. Restored to its former grandeur, the hotel features an antique shop, history of many of the families who once lived in Shaniko, and a café with home cooking that is said to the best in the area. The old Shaniko Livery Barn now stands as a museum featuring a number of antique cars in their original state. Next door is the Shaniko Sage Museum, also available to visitors. A number of antique and gift stores have been established in the other historic buildings in the tiny downtown district.

More ...

 

Featured Book:

 

Route 66 Packages - Several groupings that discount our many Route 66 books.

 

EZ66 Guide for Travelers by Jerry McClanahan  Route 66 eight state map series  Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide  Images of Route 66 by David Wickline

 

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!

 

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The Old West

 

 

Big Nose George ParrotOutlaw Big Nose George Becomes a Pair of Shoes - Huh?? Read on.

George Parrot, also known as George Francis Warden, George Manuse, George Curry, and Big Nose George, is infamous not only for being hanged as an outlaw, but also for being the only man in American history who became a pair of shoes after his death.

The outlaw, known for his large nose and thusly most often called "Big Nose George,” was a member in a gang of road agents and horse thieves who terrorized Wyoming.

However, when the gang attempted to rob a train they were stopped by lawmen who gotten a tip of the robbery and the outlaws fled, later splitting up and taking off into different directions. But, Big Nose George's big mouth would get him in trouble in Montana when he got to drinking and bragged about his exploits. In no time, Wyoming lawmen picked him up and returned him to Rawlins in 1880. Sentenced to be hanged on April 2, 1881, George escaped on March 22nd, but was quickly apprehended. No longer tolerant, the townspeople then dragged him from the jail with lynching on their minds. As a crowd of about 200 people gathered, the vigilantes severely botched the first two hanging attempts, but on the third try, Big Nose George died at the end of a rope.

The body was left hanging for several hours until the undertaker removed it. Having no family to claim the corpse, Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Osborne took possession of it, in order to study the outlaw's brain to determine if there might be a reason for his criminal behavior.

 

Big Nose George's Death Mask and Shoes,After the study; however, his skin was used to make a pair of shoes and a medical bag, his skull would serve as an ashtray and a door stop, and some of his bones were buried in a whiskey barrel, not found until 1950.

 

Today, the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming, proudly displays Big George’s death mask, his skull, and the infamous shoes made of the outlaw's skin.

 

More ...

 

 

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Ghostly & Other Strange Legends

 

 

White River Monster, ArkansasArkansas' White River Monster - A strange creature is said to lurk within the White River outside Newport, Arkansas. In fact, this legend is so widely accepted that the Arkansas State Legislature created the White River Monster Refuge adjacent to the Jacksonport State Park. Furthermore, the resolution made it illegal to "molest, kill, trample, or harm the White River Monster while he is in the retreat."

 

"Whitey,” as the locals call him, has been sighted frolicking in the White River for more than a century and a half. The creature was first spied by the Quapaw Indians who once inhabited the area and the tale was passed down from generation to generation. According to this first account, the creature overturned a brave’s canoe before sinking back into the depths of the river. During the days of the Civil War, Whitey was accredited for overturning a loaded Confederate gunship.

The White River Monster is described as snake-like, about thirty feet long with a spiny backbone, and makes a loud bellowing noise. Most of the many reports came from fisherman and campers along the White River.

In 1924, a Little Rock resident reported having seen the creature, further describing it as having a dingy gray, crusted hide.

In 1937, a farmer named Bramleltte Bateman who lived south of Newport proclaimed to have seen the animal several times, saying:  "The animal rises to the surface in the late afternoons and floats or swims around 5 to 15 minutes with its head underwater.” Intending on capitalizing on the sensation, Bateman soon set up a viewing area where he charged a 25˘ for a chance to see the monster, and also sold sandwiches and soft drinks. Though business was brisk for a short time, no one else ever saw the creature.

In 1966, three people fishing also saw Whitey, describing it as having a tail like a mermaid’s, a long body, arm-like flippers and a head shaped like a monkey’s.

 

And yet more stories are told everyday. Whitey has become Newport’s local celebrity as his facsimile leads the Christmas Parade every year and the legend has created a hubbub of souvenir shops, signs, and other promotions in Newport.  White River’s version of the Lock Ness monster has  also been documented in newspapers and books around the world as well as in several television documentaries.

 

More ...

 

Did You Know??

 

Seattle's houseboat population is the largest east of the Orient.

 

Sam Walton founded his Wal-Mart stores in Bentonville, Arkansas.

 

The bola tie is the official state neckwear in Arizona.

 

Though most people say that Kansas is "flatter" than a pancake and it certainly look like it is, it actually slopes from an elevation of more than 4,000 feet long the Colorado border to 700 feet on the Missouri line.

 

63% of Idaho is public land managed by the federal government.

 

Daniel Boone lived longer in Missouri than in any other state and regarded Missouri as his home.

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Feedback and Suggestions

 

 

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Legends of America

 

A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded

 

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Kathy Weiser

Owner/Editor

  www.legendsofamerica.com

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