Stories of the Ol’ West


Old WestLong before any cowboy arrived on the silver screen, the world has had a love affair with the American West. Here are a few true Wild West stories that will bring you back into the old western days!

1. Failed bandit Elmer McCurdy’s dead corpse actually led an interesting life. In 1911, Elmer McCurdy robbed a passenger train which he thought contained thousands of dollars. The outlaw was disappointed when he only made off with $46 and was shot by lawmen shortly thereafter. McCurdy’s unclaimed corpse was then embalmed with an arsenic preparation, and sold by the undertaker to a traveling carnival, exhibited as a sideshow curiosity. For nearly 60 years, his body was bought and sold by various haunted houses and wax museums for use as a prop or attraction, finally ending up in a Long Beach, California, amusement park funhouse. During filming in 1976 for the television show “The Six Million Dollar Man,”  McCurdy’s finger (or arm, depending on the account) broke off, revealing actual human tissue. Testing by the Los Angeles coroner’s office revealed the prop’s true identity, McCurdy. He was then buried at the famous Boot Hill cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas, 66 years after his death.

Billy the Kid2. Billy the Kid wasn’t left-handed. This famous tintype photograph of Billy the Kid shows him with a gun belt on his left side, fueling assumptions that the outlaw, originally named William Bonney, was left-handed. However, a majority of tintype cameras produced a negative image that appeared positive once it was developed, making an end result the reverse of reality. Also, we know the picture was a mirror image, suggesting that Billy the Kid was a righty because he poses with his Winchester Model 1873 lever-action rifle. It appears on the photo to have a loading gate on the left side, but Winchester only made 1873s that load on the right.

3. The 1849 California Gold Rush wasn’t America’s first gold rush, or even the second. In 1799, Conrad Reed found a large yellow rock in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Neither he nor his father had any idea what it was. Reportedly, the family used it as a doorstop for years, until a visiting jeweler recognized it was a 17-pound gold nugget and the rush was on. Eventually, Congress built the Charlotte Mint to manage the sheer volume of gold dug up in North Carolina. In 1828 gold was discovered in Georgia, leading to the nation’s second gold rush. Finally, in 1848, James Marshall struck it rich at Sutter’s Mill in California, causing thousands of Forty-Niners to move west in seeking their fortunes.

For even more of an Old-West feel, come on in and enjoy our fantastic food and take a break. Enjoy the environment of the Saloon for an evening for yourself, or in our dining room for a night the family is sure to remember!

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