Many of us can only imagine what it was like to live in the Old Wild West.
There are so many great films and folk stories that capture the theme of ‘cowboys and Indians,’ saloon brawls, outlaws, and good old-fashioned “shoot outs,” that make us want to go back in time to experience the excitement for ourselves.
So, here are 15 Old Wild West photos that will leave you breathless:
1.The Rufus Buck Gang
The Rufus Buck Gang was an outlaw multi-racial gang whose members were part African-American and part Creek Indian. The group operated in the Indian territory of the Arkansas-Oklahoma area from 1895-1896 and included: Rufus Buck, Lewis Davis, Sam Sampson, Maoma July, and Lucky David.
After killing U.S. Deputy Marshal John Garrett in 1895, the gang started robbing stores and terrorizing ranches in the Fort Smith area. At least two female victims who were raped by the gang died of their injuries.
The Rufus Buck Gang members were eventually captured outside Muskogee by a collective effort from law enforcement and the Indian police of Creek Light Horse, and they were all hanged on July 1, 1896.
2. Wild West Show Cowgirls
The Parry sisters were well-known performers, and Martha Allen was a star cowgirl. The girls were trick riders with the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show.
The Parry sisters began their career in 1906 with the Buffalo Bill show, and then performed with the 101 Ranch until 1917 when Juanita Parry died in a performance at Madison Square Garden.
3. Rose Dunn
Rose Dunn was known for her beauty and her romantic involvement with outlaw, George Newcomb. The gangmembers Newcomb was involved with were infatuated with Rose because of her good looks and calm demeanor. They were incredibly defensive of her, and she became loyal to them as a result.
Newcomb had a $5,000 bounty place on him and he was wanted dead or alive. So, Rose’s brothers shot and killed him as he was dismounting in front of their house to visit her, and they split the bounty money.
Rose was often accused of setting Newcomb up.
4. The Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers formed in 1823 to protectthe Texas border at all costs after the Mexican War of Independence.
They gradually became the West’s most infamous law enforcement agency, killing a great deal of notorious outlaws, including notorious bank robber Sam Bass.
5. Belle Starr
Belle Starr was a famousfemale outlaw who was often associated with notorious criminals like Jesse James. Shortly after her marriage to a Cherokee man named Sam Starr, Belle began bootlegging and stealing horses.She did time jail time and was shot to death in 1889.
It was quite rarefor cowboys to bathe due to their rough and rugged lifestyles. Long cattle drives left very little time for optimal hygiene routines.
In the photo above, a few cowboys find a waterhole to freshen up after a long day.
7. Death Valley
In 1849, a group of people on their way to the California gold fields left their wagon train to follow what they believed to be a short cut.
However, the map they were following was inaccurate, and they ended up an area that had not been charted before. For several months, the travelers wandered the valley and were on the brink of starvation.
Once they finally staggered out, one traveler said, “Goodbye, Death Valley,” rendering its ominous name.
8.Bloody Bill Anderson
William T. Anderson, or “Bloody Bill” was one of the deadliest and most brutal pro-Confederate guerilla leaders in the American Civil War. He was even known to lead a band of Confederate guerillas to capture a train full of Union soldiers in Missouri in 1864, killing 24 of them.
This photo was taken near Fort Defiance, New Mexico in 1873. These were some of the Navajo that were dispossessed of their homeland during the treacherous “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo, when the United States government had Indians removed from their land (1863-1864).
10. Olive Oatman
Olive Oatman is often recognized by the interesting tattoo on her chin. She and her sister were both kidnapped by an Indian tribe when she was 14 years old and they were then sold to the Mohave tribe.
The Mohave treated the two sisters very well. In fact, they were also invited to join the tribe. To follow the Mohave custom, the girls tattooed their faces and arms. Unfortunately, Olive’s sister died while with the Mohave, and Olive was later “rescued” by soldiers from Fort Yuma.
However, Olive didn’t want to leave the tribe because she was married to a Mohave man and had two sons with him.
Most people recognize Annie Oakley as “Little Miss Sure Shot,” the American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter.
Her unique talented was showcased at the age of 15 when she won a shooting match with traveling-show marksman Frank E. Butler, whom she eventually married.
The couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show a few years later. Oakley became a renowned international star, performing before royalty and heads of state.
12. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, 1893
Buffalo Bill began working at the age of seven after the death of his father. He became a rider for the Pony Express at the age of 14, served the Union during the Civil War, and also served as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars.
However, his true legend began when we launched the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in 1893, taking his company on tours all around the United States.
13. A Wild Game of Poker
Gamblers are surrounding a poker table at an Old West Saloon. During the 19th century, developing small towns were mostly populated by men, which provided for plenty of drinking, gambling, and brothel activities.
14.Transcontinental Railroad Workers
In 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies to build a transcontinental railroad that would link the United States from east to west.
The two companies worked over the next seven years to make the transcontinental railroad a reality. In the photo, track is being laid in Nevada as the Central Pacific forces build the western link of the railroad on May 10, 1868.
15.The Dalton Gang
This group of outlaws was also known as the “Dalton Brothers” because three of its members were brothers. They specialized in train and bank robberies.
Two of the brothers (Grat and Bob) were killed during a bank robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1892. The other brother, Emmmet, survived and was captured. He spent the next 14 years in jail.