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Legends Letter

June, 2009


Speedracing with my granddaughterHope you'll are enjoying the warmer weather and had a great Memorial Day weekend! As usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. Lots of stuff going on in the last couple of months. Probably more information than you want to hear, but I'll give ya the Reader's Digest version.


Unfortunately, I lost my mother in April and I'm afraid I haven't been the most productive person. My computer and my phone both died quick deaths, providing all kinds of communication issues. The phone was quick to replace, but the laptop was in the "shop" for three weeks. Ugh! In the meantime, hubby Dave's job is in limbo land as his company is for sale. They laid off half the staff and the rest don't know if they still have a job beyond a couple of months. On the good side of that, Dave may be coming to work for Legends of America sooner than we planned.


lake cottageOn the not so good side, we've already cancelled several trips this year in anticipation of what may come. Always have to have a Plan B and C. In the meantime, we've been working on this little "guest cottage" as a permanent home for Legends of America down at our place at the Lake of the Ozarks, which has gotta be done if Dave's gonna come on board. So adjustments and plan changes a plenty. And, to boot, I fractured a rib over Memorial Day weekend. I had a feeling this was going to be a year for change, but come on! Ok, I'll stop whining.


We didn't make it to San Antonio as we had hoped, nor the Salton Sea in southern California, and our planned trip to the northern California gold fields and National Parks this summer may also go to the wayside. But, all is not lost. Now, ya'll might not find this as interesting as I do, but, I've GOT to travel and write about history, so I figured I would do it in my own backyard. Hence, a new website called Legends of Kansas. Now, before you go "rolling your eyes" that there's nothing in Kansas but flatland, you just might be surprised.


The "Land of Ahs," has an extremely rich history of the Old West, some vicious battles during its fight for statehood which some say were the "first battles" of the Civil War, dozens of old forts, pioneer trails, and believe or not, some very interesting scenery at places such as Monument Rocks, the first designated National Natural Landmark, and Mushroom Rock State Park. But, not to worry, just because the focus has temporarily changed just a little, the rest of the American West will continue on at Legends of America.


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 - Holbrook, Arizona


The Old West - Legends, Myths, & Campfire Tales


Ghostly Legends - Ghosts of the Queen Mary


Featured Book - The Quotable Cowboy




Bumper Sticker Wisdom 


If you can't change your mind, are you sure you still have one?


Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.



I Haven't Been The Same Since That House Fell On My Sister.



Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!  



New Additions



Virginia City, nevada, 1866Well, you are going to see a lot of Kansas, but we've got more for you including the old mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. Thanks to our reader Maureen, who took a bunch of photos and allowed us to use them, we traveled "virtually" to this historic city. (p.s. - especially in the next year, we could really use some help in the picture department for destinations in the west - notably, Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota, Washington, and south Texas.)


We've also got several additions for Colorado since we're sure there will be several of you headed to the Rocky Mountains this summer. Check out the Dinosaur National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park.


Speaking of National Parks, here's a bit of news for you if you're not already aware. This summer, the federal government is waiving fees for three weekends this summer. Hoping this will help boost local economies across the country, all 147 National Park Service sites that charge entry fees will waive them for June 20 and 21, July 18 and 19, and August 15 and 16. Those fees usually range from $3 to $25.


So, as your taking advantage of one of few benefits of national spending that can directly effect you, see our new article on the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, plus dozens of others we've already featured such as the Chaco Culture National Park in New Mexico, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, Death Valley in California, the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, and many more.


Well, as most of you know, I am enamored with ghost towns, and on a recent trip through western Kansas and another brief venture into the Flint Hills, I think I've discovered the Land of Ahs just might have more ghost towns than any other state, and right here in my own backyard. These old settlements are unlike the ghost towns we all quickly imagine -- the mining camps of Colorado, Montana and other states. These are the result of a 75 year decline in agriculture. My epiphany soon led to an article called Emerging Ghost Towns of the Plains. A number of ghost towns are currently in the making all across the vast plains from North Dakota to Texas, and everywhere in between.


We've also got a few more interesting Old West characters including Joseph G. McCoy, cattle baron and originator of the Abilene Cattle Trail; John Brown, the radical abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery; Charles Rath, a buffalo hunter on the Plains, and several more.


Well, I got a bunch to catch up on, so I better get moseying.



Did you know?


California has the most  National Park Service units at 23.


Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.


On a clear day, the visibility at Bryce Canyon National Park often exceeds 100 miles!


The Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon achieves a depth of over 1200 feet.




Custom Greeting Cards - Combining our great vintage photographs with words, wisdom and proverbs of the Old West, these photo cards are unique to the Legends' General Store.  




Recipe for Buffalo Stew


1 buffalo

2 rabbits

Salt and pepper


Cut buffalo in bite-size pieces. Salt and pepper. Cover all with brown gravy. Cook over kerosene fire about four weeks at 465 degrees. This will serve 3800 people. If more are expected, two rabbits may be added. But do this only in an emergency. Most people do not like hare in their stew.


Featured Travel Destination 



Greetings from HolbrookHolbrook - Too Tough For Women or Churches - Both an Old West town and a Route 66 community, Holbrook got its start in 1881 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad laid its tracks through the area that was then known as Horsehead Crossing. The following year a railroad station was built and the small settlement’s name was changed to Holbrook in honor of H.R. Holbrook, the first chief engineer of the railroad.


Primarily called home to cowboys, cattle ranchers and railroaders, the settlement soon took on all the vices of a typical Wild West town, complete with a saloon called the Bucket of Blood. Law and order were non-existent, gambling was popular, and painted ladies far outnumbered "proper women.”


Members of the Hashknife OutfitIn 1884, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, better known as the Hashknife Outfit, began operations in Holbrook. The second largest cattle ranch in the U.S., the cattle company had some 60,000 head of cattle, and employed hundreds of cowboys.
Holbrook initially welcomed the money of the cattle company and its associated cowboys, until they saw what they were in for. The buckaroos of the outfit quickly gained the unsavory reputation of being the "thievinist, fightinest bunch of cowboys” in the United States.  Many of the cowboys working for the Hashknife Outfit were wanted men and on two occasions, they were linked to train robberies at Canyon Diablo.


The sudden presence of so many cowboys also gave rise to rustling, robbery and gunfights. Much of the rustling was done against the Hashknife Outfit itself.


Stagecoach and train robberies became an almost recreational pastime for cowboys and drifters in the area. And, when the cowboys came off the range, with money in their pockets and whiskey on their minds, it was time for Holbrook to "look-out!" In 1886 alone, there were twenty-six shooting deaths on the streets of Holbrook, which was called home to only about 250 people at the time.


It was somewhere along this time that the St. Johns Herald reported: "The Salvation Army is going to visit Holbrook. A good field for operation."


There was obviously a need for law enforcement in the settlement and Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens is credited with bringing it to the wild and crusty town in 1887. 


Though still lawless, Holbrook gained the honor of county seat in 1895, and just three years later a new courthouse was built. This historic building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to stand today, operating as the Holbrook Visitor Center and Museum.

By 1914 Holbrook was said to be the only county seat in the U.S. that didn't have a church. However, it did have one of the famous Fred Harvey Restaurants, housed in several old boxcars on a rail siding.

By the time Route 66 made its appearance, the wild and lawless town had become more settled, and the narrow strip of asphalt became a symbol of hope to the city and the many travelers of the Mother Road.


Today this city of a little more than 5,000 souls offers a great opportunity to explore Navajo, Hopi and Apache country, as well as the nearby Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest National Park, and its many Route 66 era icons.


More ...


Featured Book:


The Quotable Cowboy by Kathy EtlingThe Quotable Cowboy by Kathy Etling:

Cowboys remind us when life was simple, when everything was black and white, and when hope lay upon the horizon like a pale rising sun. Americans are heirs to their myth and legacy, no matter where we hang our hats. A perfect gift for any outdoors person! Hardback.





Cowboy Wannabe

More than anything, Bob wanted to be a cowpoke. Taking pity on him, a rancher decided to hire the lad and give him a chance.

"This," he said, showing him a rope," is a lariat. We use it to catch cows."

"I see," said Bob, trying to seem knowledgeable as he examined the lariat. "And what do you use for bait?"



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!

The Old West



Around the campfireLegends, Myths & Campfire Tales of the American West From the beginning of time, people have told stories, relegating their friends and families with tales of adventure, hard times, interesting people, frightening experiences and everyday life. Sometimes these were truths, others exaggerations, and occasionally nothing more than tall tales. The more interesting of these narratives were passed around from friend to friend and from parents to children, sometimes altering along the way or growing in strength to the point that they became legends, folklore, or questionable myths. Oral history, proverbs, jokes, and popular beliefs were interwoven into music, dance, cultures, and sometimes even into history itself.

  The Old West is filled with folklore, Native American mythology, and real truths that make for wonderful campfire tales. Around the campfire or a roaring hearth can be heard the approach of galloping horses, the whispers of phantoms in ghost towns, the far-off sounds of pistols blazing,  and the sighing moans of the winds drifting through the ancient trees of hunting, mining, and cowboy camps.


Some of the more popular tales include Pecos Bill, who grew out

of the imagination of southwestern cowboys. Pecos Bill personifies the frontier virtues of courage, strength, and humor. The mythical folk hero, first written about in 1923 by Edward O’Reilly, is said to have been based on tales told by range hands at the end of a long day of tending cattle. Personifying the frontier spirit of the American West, the legendary "man” displayed superhuman feats that grew with each telling around the campfire.


Another popular legend is that of La Llorona (pronounced "LAH yoh ROH nah"), the Weeping Woman of the Southwest, which 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.


BansheeAnother similar tale is the Banshee Of The Bad Lands, where a ghostly figure is said to haunt the Badlands of South Dakota. Thought to have been either a white victim of a red man's jealousy or an Indian woman who was killed there, the banshee's cries have chilled the blood that would not have cooled at the sight of a bear or panther.


Other interesting tales include Bad Medicine, The Death Ship of the Platte River, El Muerto - The Headless One of South Texas, Jackalopes in Wyoming - Myth or Reality?, The Salt Witch of the Nebraska Plains, and dozens of others. Check them out HERE


Old West Wisdom


Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.


Never take to sawin' on the branch that's supportin' you, unless you're bein' hung from it.


Generally speaking, fancy titles and nightshirts are a waste of time.


The wildest critters live in the city.


The best way to cook any part of a rangy ol' longhorn is to toss it in a pot with a horseshoe, and when the horseshoe is soft and tender, you can eat the beef.  






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 Queen Mary in Long Beach, CaliforniaGhosts of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California - Resting in Long Beach Harbor is the HMS Queen Mary, a colossal ship that was bigger, faster and more powerful than the Titanic. The 1,000-foot ship began her life when the first keel plate was laid in 1930 at the John Brown shipyard in Clyde, Scotland. The depression held up her construction between 1931 and 1934, but she was finally completed, making her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936.


For three years the grand ocean liner hosted the world’s rich and famous across the Atlantic Ocean, but when World War II broke out in 1939, luxury travel immediately ceased and the ship was transformed into a troopship that would become known as "The Grey Ghost.”


Its duty to the war complete, the Queen Mary was refurbished and resumed her elegant cruises in July, 1947, maintaining weekly service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New York. However, by the early 1960’s, transatlantic cruises were falling out of fashion, due to air travel becoming affordable for the masses. In 1963, the ship began a series of occasional cruises, first to the Canary Islands and later to the Bahamas. However, without central air conditioning, outdoor pools, or other amenities now commonplace on cruise ships, she proved ill suited for the work. In 1967, she was withdrawn from service after more than 1,000 transatlantic crossings.


That same year, the Queen Mary was sold for $3.45 million to the city of Long Beach, California, for use as a maritime museum and hotel. On December 9, 1967, she made her final voyage to Long Beach. After 1,001 successful Atlantic crossings, she was permanently docked and soon became the luxury hotel that she is today.


Internationally recognized, the historic floating hotel and museum attracts thousands of visitors every year. It has also attracted a number of unearthly guests over the years. In fact, some say the Queen Mary is one of the most haunted places in the world with as many as 150 known spirits lurking upon the ship. Over the past 60 years, the Queen Mary has been the site of at least 49 reported deaths, not to mention having gone through the terrors of war, so it comes as no surprise that spectral spirits of her vivid past continue to walk within her rooms and hallways.


More ...


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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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