Chuckwagon tells us how it used to be, …or maybe, ought to be… or should have been… in the Old West. Yeee Haaaw!

Tales Of The Old West…  
Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction! Here are a few tales of the Old West that will cause you to shake your head (or at least scratch it), and roll your eyes. 

 “Butch Cratchity And The Sunburned Kid”

At times, down through history, real facts have become easily distorted. For instance, it really wasn’t Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid who robbed the payroll in my hometown, as reported to every third-grade history student. No, no, noooo indeed! Long ago, I took it upon myself to straighten out all these historical blunders! Yes, yes, and only I, Chuckwagon, history intransigent sui generis extraordinaire ““ 🙂 will soon put an end to this preposterous, pagan poppycock, baseless, infuriating balderdash, and erroneous, whimsical nonsense!

You see, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were incorrigible phonies! They were actually thrust into history books in a nasty conspiracy designed to confuse the western population. Both failed sausage-makers by trade, they made the worst wurst, sad, synthetic salami, and the most hideously horrible hot dogs in hooligan holdup history! Their caustic, killer kielbasa contained something called molecular acid, and their “corrosive concoction” often burned holes right through their grinding machine.
You see, the genuine desperados, the real banditos, who really robbed the payroll, blew up a train, and hid out in Robber’s Roost were actually, Butch Cratchity and the Sunburned Kid, the second and third cousins of my grandmother’s sister’s husband’s fathers kid, a mediocre jazz pianist kicked out of a second-rate blues band from Saddleblanket Bend, New Mexico.
Now most folks in these parts say that Butch Cratchity was really an amiable and amicable sort of saddlebum who later became an antagonistic, apostate, apoplectic, the direct result of a harsh and punitive case of harrowing, hindering, HEMORRHOIDS!”, caused by his scabrous and stubbled saddle. And it was often said that the obdurate outlaw would often slam doors in front of ladies, steal candy from kids on Halloween, and put soap in the town’s drinking water from time to time ““ all the prescriptive performance of pervasive pain!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 1899 that Butch was introduced to Doc Bosco B. Bunswarmer’s “Compound Concoction H”, and finally found relief”, eventually becoming a normal outlaw able to perform robberies and other less furtive felonies with some semblance of revealing criminal refinement. Oh yes” the demise of the Sunburned Kid and Ol’ Butch Cratchity? Well pards, it seems they had their clocks cancelled by an irate group of jealous, hostile, husbands known as the “Robber’s Roost Roosters”. As one of the “Roosters’ put it, “These boys were hung” and everyone knew it”!

Best Wishes,

Comment by Troski

CW said; Now most folks in these parts say that Butch Cratchity was really an amiable and amicable sort of saddlebum who later became an antagonistic, apostate, apoplectic”, the direct result of a harsh and punitive case of harrowing, hindering, HEMORRHOIDS!”,

When out west I guess that’s why they say “Never leave home without it”

The Titanic Did Not Strike An Iceberg!

The Titanic did not strike an iceberg ““ as reported to every third-grade history student. No, no, noooo indeed! Long ago, I took it upon myself to straighten out all these historical blunders! Yes, indeed”, and only I”, Chuckwagon ““ history intransigent sui generis extraordinaire ““ will soon put an end to this preposterous, pagan poppycock”, baseless, infuriating balderdash, and erroneous, whimsical nonsense!

You see, the Titanic actually struck a floating, anomalous object”, a drifting incognizant entity – later identified as a carelessly, yet willfully discarded, severely abused, ebony, Model S, Steinway 9’ 8” Steinway Concert Grand Piano!

Indeed, the glorious grand was set adrift from a small tuna-fishing troller by my eccentric great-grandfather, Professor E.T. “Fingers” Rockchuck Opperknockity, a renown, and infamous one-armed piano tuner from Stringbend, Idaho! The incident followed a terrible dispute with George Gershwin ““ a dissatisfied tuning customer who had called Grandfather “Fingers” a doo-doo head after playing a jive intermezzo just as three strings snapped!

”I’d like my money back,” demanded Gershwin, the famed music composer.

”Not on your life,” replied Grandfather Opperknockity, the legendary tuning-pin twister.

”Then you’ll tune it again, my friend”, snapped Gershwin.

With that, ol’ Grandpa Opperknockity screeched…
“I will NOT tune it again sir, and don’t call me your friend, you”, you”, honkey-tonk half-note! After all, everyone knows opperknockity only tunes once!”

Having forced the piano overboard, “Fingers” stormed away as he heard the splash. Always getting the last word in, he was overheard to say, “You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish!”

And now”, you know the way it really, really, was!

Pike Peek’s Pike’s Peak Peek

I’ll just bet Friday night’s duck, that you believe Pike’s Peak is a 14,000 foot mountain named in honor of Zebulon Pike, just ten miles west of Colorado Springs – as reported to every third-grade school child in America. No, no, noooo indeed! Long ago, I took it upon myself to straighten out all these historical blunders! And, yes, yes”, only I”, Chuckwagon ““ history intransigent sui generis extraordinaire ““ will soon put an end to this preposterous, pagan poppycock”, baseless, infuriating balderdash, and erroneous, whimsical nonsense!

You see, Pike’s “Peek” is in reality, an historical event that took place just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado at Redrock Rocky Rumpled Ridge High School during the late 1980’s. Additionally, Zebulon “Pike” Peek, a janitor at the High School, just happened to be my ex-wife’s second cousin’s aunt’s husband. The jovial janitor, affectionately known to the staff and student body as “Pike”, was wrongfully accused of drilling a small hole through the tile of the girls’s gymnasium shower with a number 8 titanium, Black & Decker, 3/16” inch, brad point drill bit, (on sale at Lowe’s Hardware that week). Pike was allegedly caught peeking at Harriet “Hatchetface” Hagstrom, (the girl’s gym coach), while in the shower following volleyball practice at precisely 2:48 P.M.!

A hero to all 12th grade students, Pike was suspended, pending an investigation that came to be known throughout the entire west as “Pike’s Peek”. Unfortunately, the curious custodian’s colorful career curtly culminated when Hatchetface’s croquet mallet connected with Pike’s cerebellum two weeks later. Harriet, having been the butt of every joke west of St. Louis, was eventually convicted of “cloutin’ a concierge” or otherwise “clobberin’ a custodian” ““ a new law adopted by the Colorado Legislature specifically approved and passed for Pike’s admirers and devotees!

And that’s the way it really, really, was!Best Wishes,


 Howdy Wranglers! Let me tell you about………… The Code Of The West!

    I have a friend named Mike in Pine City, Minnesota. He’s a retired ol’ cowpoke from the Pryor Mountains in Montana and he goes by the tag of “Grasshopper”. Mike used to shoe horses (farrier), while ridin’ for the Adrian Wilson brand in the mountains just east of Red Lodge. We’re happy to have you with us Mike and hope these next few lines bring back some pleasant memories for you.

In the early West, without written law and its enforcement, it became necessary for Westerners to formulate some sort of “table of rules”, or framework of common courtesy and decent behavior. Never written into statutes, certain homespun laws being merely a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct, became respected everywhere on the range. Cowboys took pride in upholding the unwritten code and those failing to abide by it, although not formally punished, became more or less, socially outcast. “Hazed into the cutbacks”, a code breaker was subject to the punishment of the very code he had broken. Even outlaws, violating every territorial, state, or federal law imagined, would not break the rules in the Code Of The West if they were to have friends. Formally written nowhere, the guidelines included the following:

 ~~~~~~~ The Code Of The West ~~~~~~~

Never inquire into a person’s past, but accept the measure of a man for what he is today. Never steal another man’s horse. A horse thief pays with his life. Look out for your own and defend yourself whenever necessary. Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table. Don’t make a threat without expecting dire consequences. Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy”. When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range. Don’t wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting. After you pass someone on the trail, don’t look back at him. It implies you don’t trust him. Riding another man’s horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man’s horse. Never order anything weaker than whiskey and always fill your glass to the brim.     Do not practice ingratitude. A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters. Always be courageous. Cowards aren’t tolerated in any outfit worth its salt. A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger, or an enemy. Never try on another man’s hat. Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined cowboys on the range. Give your enemy a fighting chance. Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you. Real cowboys are modest. A braggart who is “all gurgle and no guts” is not tolerated. A cowboy doesn’t talk much; he saves his breath for breathing. No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat. Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses, and cows. Complain about the cooking and you become the cook. Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions. Be there for a friend when he needs you. Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting. A cowboy is loyal to his “brand”, to his friends, and those he rides with. Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy – (also known as “the rattlesnake code”). Always warn before you strike. If a man was being stalked, however, the “the rattlesnake code” could be ignored. An’ never shoot a woman no matter what! Consideration for others is central to the code. Don’t stir up dust around their campsite or chuckwagon. An’ don’t wake up the wrong man for herd duty. Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas. Honesty is absolute – your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract. Live by the Golden Rule… the “Code Of The West”.

Best Wishes,


The Legend Of Diamond Mountain 

    In January 1872, a pair of unconscionably unprincipled prospectors, Phillip Arnold and John Slack, scattered a hundred-thousand dollars worth of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds onto the ground atop a mountain in the tri-state corners of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado! Incredibly, most of the gems have never been disturbed and remain today inside an area only a quarter of a mile square. The pair of unscrupulous California prospectors was preparing the groundwork for one of the greatest “salting” scandals in American history as they returned to San Francisco to announce their “discovery of a diamond mine”. Producing “samples” from their magnificent claim, they explained the hardships and dangers involved in locating the mine. Their story was accepted almost without question as the American public dreamed of another California gold rush or Colorado gold camp bonanza. As experts from Tiffany’s in New York examined the diamonds, they confirmed their tremendous value, and financiers were willing to invest big money.

Arnold agreed to guide mining engineers (provided they were blindfolded), during the three-day journey to the site located directly south of Brown’s Park atop a mountain peaking at 8,933 feet. Having lost all sense of direction, the engineers paid little attention to the area’s landmarks and scenery, concentrating upon the claim, as they removed their blindfolds on the fourth day. The diamonds were there all right, scattered freely upon the ground, convincing the most hardened skeptic. The men gathered over 600 diamonds the next day and a corporation was chartered. Upon their return to San Francisco, stock was prepared, claims were filed, and mining laws were developed in their favor. Arnold and Slack were paid $600,000.00 for all rights to their claim and investors couldn’t shuffle them out of town quickly enough!

Discovering the fraud by examining the unmistakable marks of a stonecutter’s tool, Clarence King, a government geologist, listed ten reasons diamonds could not occur naturally in the area. Further investigation traced the diamonds to Amsterdam and London where Arnold had purchased them for forty thousand dollars in 1871. Of course, by now, the prospectors had vanished completely into thin air. The number of stones used in “salting the claim” must have numbered in the thousands as in the 1800’s, “bort” stones sold for only a few cents per carat. Only about 2,000 diamonds were recovered, including those used initially as bait.

Clarence King, the last person to visit the site, filed a report clearly indicating there were hundreds of stones left in the area – a fact no one seemed to be concerned about at first, as investors focused on tracking down Arnold and Slack. Detectives eventually located Phillip Arnold in his hometown of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in possession of every cent paid to the men for the claim. John Slack was never found, as speculative supposition circulated concerning the man’s probable demise as Arnold held all the money. Slack’s ultimate fate remains a mystery to this day. As investors prepared legal actions against Arnold, the man became involved in a business dispute with a local rival in Elizabethtown. The entire matter was settled when Arnold was shot between the eyes during the argument.

Diamond prices increased with time’s passing while the remaining salted gems lay upon the mountaintop undisturbed. Years later, folks recalling the swindle began to realize a small fortune could be had at the site of the claim. By that time, Arnold’s purchase price of $40,000.00 would have been worth almost half a million dollars. Today? Even more. However, the exact location of the quarter-mile square claim on Diamond Mountain remains a mystery!

The Horrifyin’ Hangin’ Of Black Jack Ketchum 

    On July 11, 1899, Sam Ketchum robbed the Colorado and Southern’s Flyer near Folsom in northeast New Mexico with Kid Curry and Elza Lay – fellow members of Butch Cassidy’s “Wild Bunch”. Sam’s brother, Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum, had been involved in an argument with a member of the gang and had remained in their hideout in Brown’s Park, near Vernal, Utah. The outlaws, in typical Cassidy style, rushed the train, uncoupled the engine and express car, ran it some distance up the track, and blew up the safe using dynamite. Finding nothing inside the safe, the disconsolate outlaws escaped to hole up at their previously established camp in Turkey Creek Canyon near Cimarron.

Having no trouble picking up their trail, in less than a week’s time, Huerfano County Sheriff Edward Farr, special agents William H. Reno and F.H. Smith, and six other posse members, located the men’s well-stocked hideout. Elzy Lay had hobbled several fresh horses, packed in enough grub to feed a tribe of wild Apaches, and stored away plenty of ammunition. Disappointed in having gained nothing during the robbery, they were overconfident in their retreat. About 5:00 P.M. on July 16th, the outlaws allowed their campfire to burn down a bit and were just about to grill the supper steaks. Elzy walked to the nearby creek to fill his canteen when two bullets struck him almost simultaneously. The first stung like a bee, hitting him in the back of his shoulder. The next one knocked the wind from the outlaw, causing more damage by striking him in his back. Luckily, the slug missed Lay’s spinal column as he hit the ground and became unconscious. Sheriff Farr and his posse members continued to exchange concentrated gunfire with Sam Ketchum and Harvey Logan about fifteen minutes before slowing down to reconsider their condition and collect their thoughts. Wounded in his left arm, Ketchum later claimed he took the first bullet of the firefight. Sheriff Farr was hit in the wrist and calmly bandaged the wound as the gunfight continued. Then “Kid Curry” began firing in some type of wild rage described as “that of a crazed wildcat”. One of his slugs penetrated Smith’s leg, injuring the man severely. Almost immediately the outlaw put another bullet through the chest of a volunteer posse member – a cowboy named Love – killing him almost instantly. Gunfire within the ensuing thirty minutes became so intense the participants afterward related dissimilar accounts of just what actually took place.

    Elsa regained consciousness about dusk as Sheriff Farr issued the order, “Hands up”! The outlaw rolled over holding a cocked Winchester carbine and both men fired at the same time. The outlaw took yet another slug in the shoulder… the sheriff slumped to the ground gravely wounded by a 44.60 slug. The sheriff later died. 

    Without their leader, the posse temporarily withdrew to higher ground somewhere. Logan and Lay carefully examined the wounds of Sam Ketchum and patched up Elzy Lay’s shoulder as best they could under the bleak circumstances. The pair tried to assist Sam in mounting his horse but found the effort useless. Sam was in bad shape having lost a tremendous amount of blood and although barely conscious, he realized he would have to remain behind. Logan and Lay knew it as well. Somehow, Logan was able to help Lay mount his horse and checked on Ketchum one more time. Elzy and Sam reported later, they’d never heard some of the words “Kid Curry” repeated as he gigged the horses to make their escape during another torrent of lead rain. Inexplicably, Logan had not received so much as a scratch. Once past the range of short-iron shooters (pistols), Logan did not allow the horses to relent and the animals were winded by the time the pair reached the safety of the mountains. Remarkably, Sam Ketchum held out for days before being captured, although he reported having an awful time in lighting a fire with wet (bloody) matches. The posse took him to the New Mexico State Penitentiary in Santa Fe where he would receive treatment for his arm wound by a prison surgeon. However, on July 24th, Sam Ketchum succumbed to blood poisoning and died inside the prison. 

    Harvey Logan took his wounded partner to Red Weaver, a man he trusted, to his secluded cabin on his ranch in Eddy County. Logan rode on – eastward into Lincoln County. Red Weaver was of great service to Elsa Lay in healing three serious wounds and over a period of time, the outlaw regained his strength. However, Red Weaver hadn’t counted on his nosy neighbor, a man named Lusk, pokin’ around his place. On or about the 20th of August, Lusk rode into the county seat to find Sheriff M.C. Stewart. The sheriff, with Lusk and deputies J.D. Cantrell and Rufus Thomas, approached the cabin early on the 22nd of August as Elsa was cookin’ up a little breakfast. Weaver was away from the ranch hunting a deer. As the sheriff’s horse whinnied, Lay darted from the ranch house with a .45 in each hand heading for his horse to retrieve his saddle carbine. Encountering Deputy Thomas head on, Elzy Lay fired at the man with his Colt Peacemaker, striking him in the shoulder, before spotting Lusk and realizing Lusk had tipped off the lawmen. Leveling the big iron at Lusk with five beans in the wheel, he intended to give the man a sudden case of heartburn! Conversely, the bullet tore through the man’s wrist. Turning around quickly to check the status and position of the sheriff and the other deputy, Elzy suddenly collapsed onto the ground. Dazed and confused, the outlaw was unable to move. Sheriff Stewart had grazed the side of Elsa’s head with a Winchester .44-60 rifle slug, rendering him unconscious once again. The lawmen lost no time in handcuffing the fugitive while he was down for the count. Further, the deputy found it necessary to tie the restrained outlaw to his horse for the ride back to town. 

                                            The Robbery And Hangin’… 

                                             Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction 

    Brought before Chief Justice W. J. Mills, Elzy was arraigned and bound over for trial to be held on October 6th, 1899. Insisting his name was William H. McGinnis, he denied having any knowledge of a train robbery. The outlaw knew if he were convicted, he was facing either “the big jump” (hanging) or “the big pasture” (lifetime imprisonment). There was simply no reason to discuss any other allegation. As the trial commenced on the 6th, a venire facias of seventy-five men were examined before a jury was selected. Following three days of testimony, the jury deliberated merely three hours. On the 10th, Justice Mills sentenced William Ellsworth Lay to serve a life term inside the New Mexico State Penitentiary at Santa Fe – a sentence never fully served – but that’s another story. 


    Unaware of his brother’s capture and death following the robbery of the Colorado and Southern Flyer, “Black Jack” Tom Ketchum rode alone to Twin Mountains near Folsom, New Mexico where he attempted to single-handedly rob the very same train scarcely a month later. Train conductor Frank Harrington was being held up for the third time and he decided it wouldn’t happen again. Seizing his 10-gauge shotgun, he leveled it at Black Jack and fired at the outlaw, nearly removing his right elbow. Tom fired back but missed the conductor as he fell from the train onto the ground. Ketchum later stated, “I tried a dozen times to mount my horse but was too weak and dizzy from the pain”. Unable to act, the badly wounded train robber simply gave up, sat down in the dirt, and waited for the posse to arrive. Lawmen placed him back upon the train and immediately transported him to Trinidad, Colorado where his arm was amputated inside the San Rafael Hospital. When able to travel, Black Jack Ketchum was taken to Santa Fe for incarceration where the outlaw pled innocent to the charges brought against him. The judge, having “example-making” intentions, found Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum guilty, and sentenced him to hang upon the gallows!

    As judicial delays took place, Black Jack – already a tall, large man – began to put on weight while spending time in Sheriff Garcia’s jail. As the weeks passed by, the hangman (Sheriff Garcia), failed to notice the prisoner letting his belt out a notch or two. Experienced neck-stretchers of the period knew hanging required careful calculation of the prisoner’s weight and a corresponding length of the rope. Not allowing for the correct rope size and drop distance could be catastrophic. In other gruesome words… the heavier the prisoner, the shorter the rope. You see pards, if a rope is too short for the convict’s weight, his neck will not be properly broken and the prisoner will strangle to death. If the rope is too long, the inmate will literally lose his head. 

Black Jack’s hanging, the first conducted in Union County, was a major event as tickets were sold and businesses closed. Saloons thrived as a festival atmosphere developed. Souvenir photos were available for a nominal fee, and the county purchased a new $20.00 rope. Vendors sold food and drinks as the carnival – circus mood intensified and spectators gathered ‘round. The very proper ladies of the “Society Seeking Law And Order”, paid top dollar for front row positions around the gallows. At last, they would see justice finally carried out when the scoundrel’s neck broke. The self-righteous “ladies” firmly believed they had a right to hear Tom Ketchum’s neck snap as they viewed the execution from merely a few feet away! And then… 

As Black Jack’s time ran out, the drop fell at 1:21 P.M. and immediately, the outlaw was effectively decapitated! With bloody severed neck bones protruding above its collar, the headless trunk pitched forward toward the spectators. Gushing blood spurted upon the curious and callous nearest the scaffold. Amid the screams and gasps of the crowd, a few ol’ crows of self-appointed “Society Seeking Law And Order” fainted… as Black Jack’s headless torso dropped to the ground, quivering and spewing blood everywhere. Following a few minutes of what can only be described as sheer confusion and terror, the local physician was astonishingly required to examine the headless torso and pronounce Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum deceased.  Having his head sewn back upon its torso by the undertaker, ol’ Black Jack was laid to rest inside the city cemetery at Clayton, New Mexico.

Best Wishes,

El DuckO Came To Town

 As I was out ridin, gatherin’ cows all together,
I saw a young horseman just burnin’ the leather.
Just whom should I meet but Cactus Jack Slade,
A man of whom legends have always been made.
He’d mounted a cougar with a Bowie knife bit,
And spurred on that cat in a desperate fit.
Tucked under his arm, his braided whip bullwhacker,
And a grizzled ol’ wildcat spittin’ chewin’ tabacker.
His mount bent his head down, while kickin’ up dirt,
As Jack grabbed a’ hold of his rattlesnake quirt.
The six-gun he carried, clutched tightly in hand,
Showed twenty-one notches, the most in the land.
Cursin’ and cussin’, the man rode on past,
I asked “what cha doin’ a ridin’ that fast?”
Atop that ol’ cougar, Jack turned his head ’round,
“I’m gettin’ out fast – El DuckO’s in town!”
The Secret Of Peacock’s Saloon 

Egg Nog with a spirit. Delicious! But there’s a bit of history behind this Eastern Utah sheep dip… this terrifying tarantula’s tonsil twister. You see, at the turn of the last, past century, my ol’ “Grampy” worked at the local lumber store in my hometown of Price, Utah – a few miles from the site where Butch Cassidy and his gang robbed the Pleasant Valley Mine Payroll at Castle Gate in April of 1897, finally riding south through my cousin’s ranch, mounting fresh horses an hour later, and disappearing into the San Raphael Swell. The “brains of the outfit”, Elsa Lay had cut the telegraph wires, confusing law officers in all directions. Posse members from the south mistook another loosely organized posse from the north and the two courageous clusters shot at each other for hours before they realized Cassidy had ridden into the San Raphael and finally into “The Maze” at Robber’s Roost. My ol’ Daddy had told me stories about men chasin’ cows into the Maze, never to be seen again.

I always called my grandfather “Grampy”, and as a young man, he supplied cottonwood planks for the raised sidewalks along an unpaved, ol’ west main street then dotted with wild saloons and other assorted shady establishments down the side streets. Saddle tramps could always stumble upon a hot poker game, “paint his nose with antifogmatics”, or enthusiastically indulge in the horizontal hula or other certain time-consuming social activities with the painted cats of the evening. Illegal yes, nonetheless quite tolerated by the general population.

One local favorite thirst emporium was that of an Englishman, a Mr. Lloyd Peacock, whose specialty was preparing his famous “Tom And Jerry” spirited eggnog recipe, and it has been said that around the holidays, cowboys sopped up the stuff like dry sponges. During the summer of 1909, William “Gunplay” Maxwell, a twice-convicted bank robber, began planning a local mine payroll robbery. He claimed the last chair and a portion of the bar inside Peacock’s Saloon for his headquarters. Receiving an anonymous tip, coal company owners asked deputy sheriff Edward Black Johnstone to thwart the plan. It was generally known that the deputy had crossed paths with the outlaw previously and Johnstone had become Maxwell’s nemesis having testified against him in a court of law, following a bungled robbery. Some called him “Shoot ‘em up Bill”.

“Shoot ‘em up Bill” had no trouble locating Maxwell inside the old Saloon on the west side of Price’s Main Street. Maxwell’s verbal abuse could be heard along the sidewalk outside the building and soon both men were facing each other in the street. Within a matter of only moments, C. L. “Gunplay” Maxwell lay dying upon the ground. Firing twice, Johnstone thought he’d missed as the dirt churned up behind the outlaw. Then Maxwell, not even having removed his blue shooter from its holster, slumped to the dirt with two holes through his upper torso. Shoot ‘em up Bill had simply beat the man to the draw. The wives of the town’s fathers insisted the man’s body be buried outside the cemetery fence where “only decent folks were interred”. What happened to the old saloon? It remained virtually unchanged for decades and patrons could always stop by for a “Tom & Jerry” during the holidays. The place was remodeled during the mid 1970’s and the name was changed, although it is still a favorite waterin’ hole for local cowboys.

Somehow, ol’ Grampy acquired Peacock’s famous Tom & Jerry recipe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won it while betting holding an inside straight! Nonetheless, it soon became an annual holiday tradition for our extended family to gather at my grandparent’s farm just west of town, on the evening of the 23rd of December for some celebratory eggnog cheer. Of course, the children had the recipe without the spirits. This stuff is “perty dang good” and I hope you try it.

“Tom And Jerry’s” 
(Peacock’s Saloon 110 -Year-Old Secret Egg Nog Recipe) 
  • 10 eggs 
  • 1 quart of milk 
  • 2 cups of sugar 
  • cinnamon 
  • nutmeg 
  • rum and whiskey 

Gradually, warm two cups of milk on the ol’ wood stove then reserve it. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks together with two cups of sugar. Continue beating the mixture until it stiffens. Beat the egg whites separately and add one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Excluding the milk, fold (don’t stir), all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth and stiff. Gradually add the hot milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Note the amount of milk necessary will depend upon the size of the eggs. Pour the mixture into mugs and add one jigger of whiskey and 1/2 jigger of rum to each. Stir slowly and sprinkle with ground nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. I like to use a little allspice in mine. Relax and enjoy Tom & Jerry’s with your family.

Best Wishes,

“Old Ranch Remedies, Wisdom, And Wives’ Tales”

As I reflect upon more pleasant earlier days of soap-making, beer brewing, and mushroom canning, I must include a few of my favorite two hundred-year-old remedies and recipes you may enjoy reading for amusement. I really wouldn’t try potassium cyanide on insects or egg yolks on a snakebite!

Don’t throw out orange skins. Boil them and use the water for bathing as it gives a fresh appearance to the complexion so vitally important to horse wranglers, cow kickers, and polecats. If you happen to receive a blackened eye as the consequence of an inappropriate discretion or indecorous behavior, bathe the area with very warm orange water, apply raw beef steak to the affected area, and terminate any indiscreet, indecent, unwholesome, or bawdy demeanor or licentious comportment. If you’re just worried sick about the whole thing and have acquired a splitting headache, try a teaspoon of charcoal in half a glass of water.

Revitalize any hair you have remaining upon your scalp by pouring one pint of boiling water into one ounce of oil of tar. Stir the mixture, allow it to cool, skim the liquid and pour it through a piece of cheesecloth. Add bay rum to infuse a milky appearance. Add one-half ounce of extract burdock root, and one half drachum of tincture of lobelia. Brush the scalp thoroughly every day and apply the renewer.

A good hard soap is made of six pounds of sol soda, six pounds of lard, three pounds of limestone and four gallons of soft water. Dissolve the lime and soda in boiling water, stir it frequently, and then allow it to settle. Pour off the liquid carefully, add the lard, and boil the mixture until it thickens. Stir in one-ounce sassafras oil and use the soap for laundry and toiletry purposes. If you happen to receive a rattlesnake bite while preparing the soap, make a stiff paste of egg yolk and table salt, applying it to the wound at once.

Treat a rusty nail injury by smoking the wound over the fumes of burning woolen cloth, wool, or sugar, fifteen minutes for the reduction of pain. As you most likely will pass out from the odor within the first five minutes, it will not be necessary to use a timing device.

A solution of cyanide of potassium will kill insects, however, my favorite home brewed, eco-friendly, bug-killing spray for plants is a pureed mixture of 3 onions, 1 whole garlic, 2 tablespoons hot red pepper, and 1 tablespoon baking soda, mixed with a quart of soapy water. 

For tired, burning feet, remove those tight riding boots and soak your feet fifteen minutes nightly in a pint of bran mixed with an ounce of bicarbonate of soda and a gallon of hot water. The pores of the skin being tightly enclosed cause feet to perspire less, producing a burning sensation. On the other hand, it might be a good idea to leave your boots on your feet, as I’ve seen cowboy’s perspiration-soaked socks actually start stampedes of cattle!

Best Wishes,

Thanks Duk! But It’s Awfully Windy Around Here…


Hi Wranglers,

That ol’ Duck has been working like crazy to get us “up and runnin”. What a job he’s doing! But, wow, he sure causes a lot of hot air to rush through our office… and our office is around the ol’ campfire… OUTSIDE! Now, I’m not sayin’ the Duk is full of beans…  Shucks, I’m not even sayin’ he’s full of hot air. I’m just sayin’ there sure is a lot of hot air and wind around these parts! It was so windy here yesterday that I just stayed inside the ranch kitchen. I didn’t dare go outside, so I drilled a hole in the kitchen wall and stuck a crow bar through it to see if I could feel any resistance to the stiff wind. Oh yeah! When I tried to pull it back inside, I found that the “prevailing” wind had bent the crowbar at a right angle! Sheeyuks, that hot air moves so quickly around here that very often it will cause the rattlesnakes to bite their own rattles, then when they form a loop, they just roll around the prairie in loops. Why… I’ve even seen a stiff wind blow a herd of snake loops right up the side of a steep mountain! Yup, that’s just the way it is!

Best Wishes,Chuckwagon

The Maze

Robber’s Roost has the largest display of aberrant, twisted, and unforgiving rock canyons found upon our planet. Swallowing up many square miles of Robber’s Roost in eastern Wayne County, Utah, the Maze is situated in the desert a few miles northwest of the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, where the landscape becomes a particularly nasty, gnarled, and confusing network of passages carved deeply inside rock canyons by wind, water, and unpredictably wild weather. The Maze is a complex snarl of labyrinths and chasms “only a fool would stumble into” said Butch Cassidy. Exploring the landscape while growing up, and finally photographing the terrain from the air as an adult, I finally realized no one on our planet could possibly map the fearfully intimidating area immediately east of the Roost bordering the Colorado River. It is so remote and tangled, my own father said “only a knot-head would chase a cow into Robber’s Roost”, and Ol’ pappy occasionally told stories of cowboys chasing strays into the tangled chasms and gulches of the Maze, never to return! Its western border “The Ledge” is the eastern part of the “Orange Cliffs” John Wesley Powell named in 1869. The rugged desert, westward over the top of the Orange Cliffs, is home to Joe Biddlecome’s descendants and Robbers Roost remains situated upon private land yet today. During the years following the Civil War, only a few cattle ranchers and outlaws populated the isolated retreat bisected by the Dirty Devil River. As Powell made his second river excursion in 1871, there were rustled cattle upon the desert mesas, hundreds of feet above Cataract Canyon being tended by the McCarty’s – veterans of the Jessie James Gang!

Today, The Maze lies within the heart of Canyonlands National Park although it was not included when Congress first created the park in 1964. Following much political squabbling, the Maze District and Horseshoe Canyon were added to the park in 1971, and Uncle Sam assumed control. Modern day explorers, whether lay or professional, are required to register with a ranger, explain just what in the world they are doing there, and report the date and hour they intend to return. The ranger then opens a map, circles the waterholes and springs with red ink, stuffs the thing into the visitor’s shirt, collects a fee, and wishes the explorer best of luck. I think of the Maze as a long, deep, network of canyons having a mind-boggling selection of side canyons leading to more side canyons. And those side canyons have side canyons, which also have side canyons. Even those side canyons have side canyons! All remain particularly indistinguishable.  

Many adventurers seek out popular Horseshoe Canyon and the legendary Orange Cliffs in the northern portion of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Fewer see the Land of Standing Rocks and The Fins having traversed the terrain of buttes, arches, rock walls, and of course, more canyons. Some seek answers to the mysterious writings of the native people living here between 2,500 and 10,000 years ago – hunter-gatherers archaeologists call the “archaic” people. The meaning or significance of the writings of the Anasazi and Fremont recorded upon rock walls in pictographs and petroglyphs remain a mystery today. 

Intentionally, nothing has been done to modify the naturally remote excellence of the landscape and any trails are marked only with rock cairns. There are no signs here, and the springs and water holes are not marked. The few roads into the area are restricted to four-wheel drive vehicles only. Hikers become backpackers here and most choose to follow the trail past the Golden Stairs on their way to Ernies Country. At the end of the day, canteens are filled at a dripping spring as the sunset ignites the landscape and the desert blazes, flaunting every possible hue of orange and red imaginable.  


 The Outlaw Joe Walker 

Joe Walker liked to drink whiskey. And when the man drank, he liked to fight. Born in Texas in 1850, his parents were killed in an Indian raid. The restless young man wandered throughout the intermountain west for twenty years, associating with many members of the Wild Bunch calling Robber’s Roost “home”. Settling in my hometown at Price, Utah at the ripe old age of forty-one, he tried working at a sawmill in Huntington – the first job he’d ever taken, not performed from the back of his horse. Walker quickly rediscovered the devotion his gluteus maximus had for good, worn, saddle leather, as the cowboy reclaimed his seat “forked on a broomtail”. Although the skinny wrangler gained a wide reputation for his lifestyle of drinking and fighting, he became a well-liked man in eastern Utah, making many friends in Price. However, in 1895, announcing his intent to “capture” the town of Price, Joe painted his tonsils in the Senate Saloon and “full as a tick”, he took a shot at a dude named Milburn. With his Colt .45 in hand, Joe literally shot up the small town. As the Carbon County sheriff tried to arrest Walker for the attempted murder of Milburn, Joe mounted a horse “giggin’ the hayburner with his can openers” (spurring the mount). A running 150-mile shoot-out took place before Joe escaped to Cass Hite’s cabin at the mouth of Trachyte Creek on the Colorado River. Weeks later, he made his way cautiously into Robber’s Roost, not far away. Walker’s reputation for drinking and fighting had preceded him, as he was acknowledged and made welcome. 

J.W. Whitmore and his sons were prominent horse breeders at the acclaimed Whitmore Horse Ranch in Nine Mile Canyon, near our much more humble Minnie Maud outfit. Surely such a refined “filly” as Whitmore’s cultured daughter would never contemplate matrimony with a saddle bum like Joe Walker! But she did… and her brothers went berserk. As Walker took his wife, the Whitmores swore an oath to dissolve the marriage. Indeed, the brothers used every resource at their disposal to make life miserable for Joe, intending to drive him off, and by March 26, 1897, they had succeeded. Joe Walker left the ranch and headed for Robber’s Roost – with a string of prime Whitmore horseflesh! Swearing out a warrant in Price, the Whitmores joined Sheriff Ebb Tuttle in pursuit of the rustler. Tuttle enlisted the help of outlaw C.L. “Gunplay” Maxwell, a self-proclaimed “bad man”, having knowledge of every square inch of Robber’s Roost. Maxwell was only too delighted to serve as a deputy in the posse for two reasons. The man’s ego was fed as he was placed in the spotlight as a “guide”, and at long last, he could take a crack at his old arch nemesis, Joe Walker. Previously best friends, Walker now considered Maxwell a “traitor”. 

As Sheriff Tuttle’s posse neared Robber’s Roost, a gun battle ensued. Walker had carefully chosen his ground, holing up near the river, his position secured by huge, sandstone boulders. An impenetrable ledge of stone safeguarded his flank. Between sporadic gunshots, Tuttle called for Walker’s surrender. Hours passed as the standoff continued. Finally, leading his men in a charge of force, Sheriff Tuttle tried rushing the outlaw. The first round from Walker’s older model 44.40 was intended to separate Maxwell’s eyebrows although the bullet struck the Winchester carbine he was carrying, invalidating its use as a weapon. The next shot was directed at the mounted, charging sheriff. As lead penetrated the lawman’s thigh, it broke the bone and knocked the man from his horse. The disoriented posse scattered as darkness fell and more hours passed away. Sheriff Tuttle remained recumbent, losing blood to the dust all night, as posse member dared not tend the man for fear of being shot themselves. What happened next seems to remain unresolved. Some say that during the nighttime, as Tuttle asked for a drink, Walker holstered his hogleg and took a bucket of water to the injured sheriff, escaping “forked on” the lawman’s horse. Others claim that the outlaw simply slipped away in the cover of night. In any case, Dr. Winters of Orangeville was summoned and arrived in a buckboard much later during the day, having traveled miles. Receiving morphine and dressings for his wound, the nearly lifeless sheriff was transported to Dr. Winters’ own residence where his uncertain condition began to improve within two weeks’ time. Recovering at his own home in Price, Tuttle stepped down as sheriff, handing the reins to C.W. Allred who vowed to bring in the outlaw.                        

Days later, having been shot at by another posse’s long-distance rifles, Joe Walker headed for the security of Brown’s Park. Less than one month later, the outlaw joined Elsa Lay and Butch Cassidy at Castle Gate, to rob the mine payroll. Walker continued to raid the Whitmore Ranch at will, throughout the following year. However, in May 1898, Joe was sleeping at Thompson Springs when Sheriff Allred’s nine-member posse surrounded his camp. As first light broke, forty-five caliber slugs riddled Joe’s bedroll. Walker died as violently as he had lived, along with John Herring, an innocent cowhand who just happened to be camped out with the legendary outlaw. Yup, and that’s the way it “really, really was!”

Best Wishes, 


The Legends Of “Blue John” And “Silver Tip”

The Law Penetrates Robber’s Roost


Outlaw partners John Griffith (alias “Blue John”) and James F. Howells (alias “Silver Tip”) are credited for discovering the area known as Robber’s Roost in the remote and feral desert of southern Utah, just east of Hanksville. Early as 1883, the men had built a dwelling, complete with a dripping spring, inside the caves at the north end of Roost Canyon in the valley just west of Horseshoe Canyon. This canyon valley is dug into the earth not unlike some sort of pit, and having sheer rock walls, it has no access other than through its mouth on the Dirty Devil River. Known as Blue John Canyon, it served as quarters to the bovine-stealing pair for years. These men were also wanted throughout Utah for their participation in other crimes and for the most part, other outlaws stayed clear of them. In the language of the period and for years thereafter along the trail, these men were “bad eggs”. A few miles southward, others explored the area.

In 1898, most people were anxiously concerned with the Spanish-American war, and thoughts or plans of law officers penetrating the gang at Robber’s Roost remained at the bottom of the list of “things to do today”. However, the war had driven sharply increasing cattle prices even further upward in a very short time – to the point, consumers were complaining to the governor about the price of beef. Ranchers were fed up with a disturbing all-time-high-record of cattle rustling incidents, and asked journalists to persistently voice their concerns in written newspaper articles. They had complained to Governor Wells, now they would place their concerns in the lap of the public. Newspapers brought about enough pressure on Wells, he drafted a list of twelve of the most wanted rustlers, offering a reward of $500.00 for each culprit captured. The list included the names of Blue John, Silver Tip, Jack Moore, Ella Moore, Pete Nielsen, Tom Dilley, and Charley (Rains) Lee. Receiving the news of the reward for their capture, Blue John and Silver Tip responded by venturing into the town of Moab where they rustled numerous prime horses. Returning to Robber’s Roost, the two horse heisters felt comfortable in their surroundings, as no lawman had ever penetrated the perimeter of the area, considering it “impregnable”. Young Sheriff Jesse M. “Jack” Tyler had a gut full of Blue John’s shenanigans and thievery. Gathering six deputies and a guide, he decided to ride into the Roost to arrest the two pony poachers. Riding from Moab to Greenriver, the men turned their horses southward, entering the San Rafael Swell. Having traversed the Swell, the horsemen ascended the summit of the south rim – the northern mesa of Robber’s Roost. Sure enough, the stolen horses were grazing there. Too late in the day to barge into outlaw headquarters, the posse made a “dry camp” for the night – without a fire or spring water. Supper consisted of beef jerky and warm canteen water.

The next morning was March 5, 1899. Would it be the first day in history that a lawman entered the refuge? At dawn, Tyler and his deputies crawled on their bellies to overlook Roost Canyon from the edge of cliff where they observed four men they identified as Blue John, Silver Tip, Ed Newcomb – an outlaw riding in Henry Starr’s gang in Oklahoma – and Newcomb’s partner. As Newcomb was filling a bucket at the spring, he happened to see the outline of a cowboy’s hat against the sunrise. His Winchester began placing lead along the cliff. Three others quickly joined in, spewing a fusillade of bullets. As the outlaws backed into Blue John’s cave, they realized they had made a mistake. Some of the posse members, being expert marksmen, began to bounce lead along the sides of the cave to produce ricochets, although the clincher was found to be in targeting the huge rock overhang above the cave. Ricocheting lead began to drive the outlaws out of the cave into a clear line of fire, as they attempted to scramble up the steep trail to the top of the mesa toward the horses. Sheriff Tyler had cleverly placed their horses, as well as the outlaw’s mounts, behind them. However, during the heated gunfire exchange, his advantage changed as bad men, horses, and deputies scrambled for better positions. Newcomb was shot in the leg and went down. Blue John somehow got the wounded man to a horse and forked his own. The men rode toward Cass Hite’s Dandy Crossing on the river. Silver Tip rode south, headed for the Henry Mountains, while the fate of the unknown outlaw remains a mystery. At Dandy Crossing, Blue John borrowed a boat from Cass Hite and set out alone, as Newcomb forded the river and headed into White Canyon. Newcomb was never seen again. Blue John camped with some miners along the river a day later, but Arthur Chaffin later reported that Blue John Griffith “went under” – somewhere in the rapids below.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe Bush was next to enter the Roost, interested in the reward money Governor Wells had offered. He formed a posse of four men, including outlaw Jack Cottrell, who simply wanted to go along, serving as a guide, to get even with his nemesis “Silver Tip” James F. Howells. Searching throughout the Robber’s Roost country and along the San Rafael, the posse came up empty handed, although I’m sure they scattered and “relocated” several bad men along their way. Then they received news that Silver Tip had stolen a herd of horses and was headed for Arizona. Bush rendezvoused at the Granite ranch with another posse led by Salt Lake Deputy Sheriff Joe Raleigh. The combined posse of a dozen men then rode into some of the roughest country in southeastern Utah – Salt Wash on the Pariah River about twenty miles above Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River. This area is called “sopeye” by the few locals living nearby who had been in the desert so long, they knew all the lizards by their first names. During the summers, the desert is so dry, the sagebrush bushes follow the coyotes around!

Sure enough, Silver Tip was holed up in an abandoned cabin above the gulch. As first light, Bush ordered a couple of his deputies to approach the cabin as he flanked it. As the men closed in, they shouted for Howells to surrender. Bailing out a rear window, Silver Tip ran head on into Marshal Joe Bush, who lost no time in handcuffing the outlaw, having holstered his pistol, which failed to cock as a primer lodged against the hammer. Deputy Thompson became so excited in the rush that he accidentally discharged his six-shooter, the bullet narrowly missing the outlaw. Traversing the Roost on June 6th, with his prisoner and posse, Joe Bush stopped at the Granite Ranch where he arrested Mrs. Ella Moore and J.B. Buhr. Charging them with “harboring criminals”, Buhr and Moore were tried in Hanksville, where J.B. bought a barrel of beer for his juror friends before they acquitted the two defendants. Silver Tip was housed at sheriff Hancock’s residence in Torrey, remaining unguarded upon giving his promise not to escape. The 22-year old sheriff of Wayne County didn’t even own a gun! Later, Silver Tip was transferred to Provo for his own protection, to await trial.

On September 18, 1899, Silver Tip was returned to Loa for trial, charged with the attempted murder of Sheriff Jesse Tyler, as well as horse stealing. Appearing dressed in a new suit of clothes, with a neatly-trimmed, silver-tipped beard, the man was represented by a first-rate Salt Lake City lawyer – hired by his cohorts at Robber’s Roost. James F. Howells, alias “Silver Tip”, received a sentence of ten years to be served at the Utah State Prison. His lawyer (Colonel Tatlock) immediately petitioned the court for a new trial. It was granted and upon rehearing, Silver Tip was acquitted. The outlaw returned to the Roost to pick up his stolen horses, straightaway driving them to Arizona, where he changed his name. Continuing in his chosen profession, Silver Tip was shot and killed by an Arizona sheriff, while stealing more horses. And that’s the way it “really, really was” !

Best Wishes, 



The Outlaw Charley Rains

 The outlaw Charley Rains’ real name was Rains Lee, the son of John Doyle Lee, who was executed in 1877 for his participation in the Mountain Meadows Massacre north of Cedar City, Utah in 1857. In 1890, Rains was hiding out, staying with his half-brothers Charley and Walt at Torrey, in southern Utah, when he heard news of a Colorado sheepherder returning to the area with a year’s wages stuffed into his pockets. Rains knew the sheepherder would be using the ferry to cross the river at Hite (then known as Dandy Crossing). From there, he was bound to climb the trail inside Trachyte Canyon to gain access to the desert once again. Riding several days, Rains “happened” to meet the young sheepherder ascending the Trachyte trail. Overly friendly, Rains invited the young Mexican to camp with him while they played some cards. Ed Chaves refused, knowing the outlaw intended to cheat him out of his wages. Rains protested and asked again. Chaves, intent upon visiting his brother Joe in Monroe having a full wallet, refused the outlaw’s offer to camp for the night and play cards. Rains then drew his pistol and told him to hand over his money. Chaves offered him a ten-dollar bill, alleging it was all he had. Rains shot the boy in the face! Stealing Chaves’ money, horse, and outfit, Rains abandoned the young man, leaving him for dead, as he headed into Robber’s Roost.

 Rains’ bullet had broken the boy’s jawbone having passed through his mouth. It also tore away his chin and most of his teeth. Yet sixty miles away from the nearest town of Hanksville, the boy regained consciousness hours later. Without a horse, food, or water, Chavez managed somehow to cross the lower reaches of Robber’s Roost on foot, suffering untold agony. Weak from the loss of blood, racked with pain, he also endured the heat of the desert and relentless thirst. Two days and one night later, by some means, Chavez dragged himself into Charlie Gibbon’s store and fainted upon the floor. Gibbons patched the boy up the best he could, tending to him several days. Sent to Monroe to be placed in the care of his brother, the boy died from the complications of blood poisoning.

 After the funeral, Joe Chavez came to Robber’s Roost from Monroe, with blood in his eye. Local folks supplied the man with arms, ammunition, horses, food, and water. Quickly, the news drifted across the flats into The Roost that a “large force of Mexicans” was assembling at Hanksville to “clean the place (Robber’s Roost) out”. Charley Rains, upon hearing the news, disappeared instantly in a cloud of dust blown away south toward Arizona. Joe Chavez, having searched Robber’s Roost for Charley Rains for more than a month, returned to Hanksville empty handed. Determined to see justice done, Chavez continued searching off and on for some time although his efforts were in vain. By the time most people had all but forgotten the matter, Hanksville resident Jerry Jackson happened across Joe Chavez one day in 1894.

“Say Chavez”, Jackson inquired, “Did you ever get onto the trail of that bad egg you were a chasin’ through the willows?”

“Oh, I found Charley Rains in Arizona”, replied Joe Chavez. He smiled as he continued, “An’ I took care of the matter in Arizona”.   


Who Am I?

 I am an herb, a perennial shrub about 2 feet high, and a member of the mint family having over 500 varieties. My flowers are fragrant and rich in nectar and the honey from them is in great demand in Europe because of its spicy flavor. My flowers are usually purple or blue, but sometimes white, red or pink. Some of my varieties have broad leaves while others have multicolored foliage of red, yellow, or white. I have a long history as a healing herb, supposedly curing everything from snakebites, eye problems, infection, epilepsy, intoxication, memory loss, worms, and intestinal problems. I’ve even been prescribed as an aphrodisiac. Food manufacturers use my dried leaves to season meats, baked goods, and beverages. I’m also used to flavor vermouth and various bitters and for years I’ve been used in the preserving of foods. Now it is known that I contain powerful anti-oxidants which slow spoilage. I’m also antibacterial in nature and effective in treating sore throats and I’ve even been effective as an antiperspirant. Who am I?  To find out, spell every other letter in this word: Sbaogwe

Dinner At Oraibi

                        It has been said John Wesley Powell understood the west better than anyone. In October 1870, he visited the Pueblo Indians at the province of Tsuyan (pronounced “sue-yawn”) on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and as he entered the streets of Oraibi, (pronounced ore-eye-bee) the “cacique” (chief) invited him to dine inside his kiva.

                         Dinner was delicious! Goat stew was served in pottery bowls with “piki”, a bread of colorful paper-thin layers, cooked upon hot rocks. Melons and peaches were served as dessert, but most impressive were the little dumplings of ground goat meat steamed inside cornhusks. Powell’s men couldn’t get enough of the tasty morsels and enjoyed them throughout the entire week before discovering how the goat meat was ground. The Indian women simply masticated or “pre-chewed” the goat meat before cooking it!

 (see the recipe in our Sausage Recipes Index.)

 “Parunuweep ~ Roaring Water Canyon”

– -The Legend Of The Colorado River Gorge –


                        Many “moons” ago, the Numa chief Orabibi lost his wife Yuma to a Zuni arrow. He mourned many days and walked the land in grief praying for comfort to Tavwoats – the “Great Spirit”.

                        “I cannot continue without her” the Numa chief told the great Tavwoats as he appeared upon the earth on his magnificent white stallion.

                         “Be comforted my son, as she is in a much happier land… I make you this promise” said the mighty Tavwoats.

                        “How may I know this in my heart?” asked the warrior.

                        “You may see her in this happier land but must agree to return here, cease your mourning, and live out your last days” offered Tavwoats.
“Agreed” exclaimed the Numa chief, “But how will we find this land? There is no trail”.

                        “I will make a trail for you to walk upon and will lead you if you but promise to tell no other mortal” said Tavwoats.

                        “Agreed,” cried out Orabibi, the Numa Chief, swearing an oath.

With a great stick, the mighty Kaivavit God struck the Colorado River Gorge along which they walked to view Yuma, the lovely Numa woman, in a more peaceful, beautiful, land, lighted by sunshine and watered by sweet morning dewdrops.

                         Upon returning, Orabibi, the Numa Chief, told others of the trail, breaking his oath and promise to Tavwoats. Learning this, the mighty Tavwoats angrily rolled a river into the gorge… a mad, raging, stream of water that should engulf any who might attempt to enter therein. Thus, there is today, the “Parunuweep” or “Roaring Water Canyon”… that which we call the Colorado River.


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70 thoughts on “TALES OF THE OLD WEST

  1. Say there pards,
    Don’t forget to click on the “Older Comments” when you look into a new category. There are lots of pages posted and waiting to be read. Hope you are enjoying SW. If you are, yell…. Yeeee Hawwww!

    Best Wishes,

  2. Driving The “Golden Spike”

    On this day, May 10th, 1869, At Promontory, Utah, Leland Stanford, Governor of California, failed to hit the “golden” spike on his first attempt, which would link together – east and west – fulfilling a dream that began two decades earlier. Stanford raised the heavy sledgehammer a second time, but this time, he struck a solid square blow, connecting thousands of miles or track of the nation’s first transcontinental railway. In 1850, more than 9,000 miles of track covered the United States. By 1860, the number had risen to over 30,000 miles, more miles of rail than the rest of the world altogether. Initially, most of the construction had been in the nation’s growing industrial centers in the Northeast, but by 1860, railways were rapidly expanding into the upper Midwest.

    Planning the transcontinental line began in the late 1840s and the discovery of gold in California in 1848 made the issue all the more urgent. Only a transcontinental railway could effectively tie that far-off region to the rest of the nation. What, then, caused the delay in the railroad’s construction – a delay of more than a decade? It was a stalemate by disagreeing northern and southern politicians that stalled the project and it would take the outbreak of the Civil War finally break this standoff. No longer hampered by southern politicians, the northern legislatures approved a central route from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California. More importantly, bills were passed by the 1862 and 1864 Congress giving huge cash subsidies and land grants to private companies that agreed to build the tracks across the continent. Two railroad companies took up the challenge and the California-based Central Pacific began laying tracks eastward from Sacramento, while the eastern-based Union Pacific began in Omaha and built west.

    Laying tracks across the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains, workers of the Central Pacific faced the greater challenge, and progress was naturally slower than that of the work force of the Union Pacific, who managed to average a mile a day over mostly flat terrain. The Central Pacific crew was primarily made up of Chinese immigrants, while Irish immigrants dominated the Union Pacific and eventually, toward the end of the project, the two sides engaged in a bitter rivalry with racist issues. Both groups, however, labored heroically in difficult and often dangerous conditions, habitually working as long as 15 hours each day.

    When the two lines connected at Promontory Point in northern Utah, it was the beginning of a dramatic transformation of the West. A 3,000-mile journey that had previously taken months to complete could now take only days by rail. More importantly, the abundant resources of the West could be shipped quickly and profitably to eastern markets, greatly spurring the development of our western economy.

    On the other hand, in years to come, thousands of emigrants rode the rails westward to homestead land, encroaching on Native American territories and hastening the demise of their way of life. The lifestyle of the American Indian was doomed. Perhaps more than any other single event, the completion of the transcontinental railroad enabled the American conquest and settlement of the West.

    Best Wishes,

  3. The Saga Of Lightning Ridge

    Lightning is the number one weather-related killer in several Rocky Mountain states! In September of 1917, Jesse Bigler was tending his sheep on the high mountain plateau separating the north fork of the Duchesne River from the west fork at Rhoades Canyon in northeastern Utah, when a sudden volt bolt turned Jesse into an ex-sheepherder. This promontory of land, known as the Rhoades Plateau, is a continuation of the vein of ore running beneath central Utah’s legendary Park City. It briefly crops up here at a point established as Lightning Ridge following the electrocution of Bigler. You may bet your size 12, hand-stitched Tony Lamas, the Spaniards knew the area well, leaving evidence in many places that they had mined large amounts of gold and silver.

    Old-timers among the Ute Indian Nations still gather youngsters around a campfire and relate tales of a time when the Spaniards brought Navajo slaves to Lightning Ridge to work in their gold mines. The storytellers say Spaniards chose Navajos or Paiutes to work inside the earth because the fierce members of the Ute Nation were much harder to capture and place into forced labor. Many slaves were actually captured by Utes and traded to the Spanish for horses. However, while working at Lightning Ridge, the more docile Navajos eventually rebelled against their captors, killing them all.

    A number of years ago, a Forest Service employee, sighting a faint glint, stepped down from his horse during a routine timber inspection on Lightning Ridge and picked up a small gold bar about 1 inch square and 3 inches in length. It appeared to have been broken by another bar. A year later, a deer-hunting archer found a similar bar of gold within the same vicinity. It was two-and-a-half inches wide, an inch-and-a-half thick, and five inches long, weighing over five pounds. Assayed, its metal content was forty-seven percent gold, forty-five percent silver, and eight percent copper. Later, as Mother Nature afforded better weather conditions during the summertime, the archer, searching for more gold, found a brass bell… the type a Spanish priest would use at a small mission!

    In November of 1931, foresters Wilford Binggeli and Bill Nunley were assigned to destroy beetle infested trees in the Lightning Ridge area. Knowing a heavy snowstorm had been predicted for the very late afternoon, the pair worked along the snow-covered ridge until it was time to turn back towards camp a few hours before dusk. Descending the ridge, Wilford fell into a pit, stepping through some rotten logs. As Bill helped his partner up, he cleared the entrance of other aged, disintegrating, logs, exposing a shaft dug upon an incline of about sixty degrees with footholds carved into the rock.

    The workingmen described the area as “dull-red, iron-stained rock but the shaft itself is followed by a multi-colored vein of quartz”. Quickly picking up several samples of rock, the men had no other option but to return to Cold Spring. The snow began falling so quickly and heavily, the rest of the crewmembers had trouble breaking camp and it has been said the entire crew spent the two following days just getting their trucks out of the mountains.

    Partners Binggeli and Nunley waited out the winter, and eagerly returned the following spring with great anticipation. Although they were able to locate many familiar points along Lightning Ridge, retracing their steps to the place Wilford had fallen into the ground proved futile. The pair failed to locate their discovery’s precise location, as the long winter, taking it’s toll upon the landscape, concealed it’s secluded secret throughout the ensuing season. As both men spent much time in vain, desperately searching the vicinity, they did not succeed to pinpoint the specific site as the committed partners wisely returned home before yet another heavy snowfall.

    As the late fall gave way to the heavy snowfalls of winter, Wilford was visited by a group of Ute Indians. He allowed them into his home as they warned him about returning to Lightning Ridge. The Utes, threatening some sort of primeval curse, were so bold as to insist he surcease and discontinue even simply telling their story to others!

    Today, Binggeli and Nunley have departed mortal life and are dwelling with the Ute “Great Spirit”. So are their dreams. Dreadfully fearing consequences of the Ute’s caveat, the associates chose not to pursue their dreams of hidden Spanish treasure. Yet, somewhere along the Rhoades Plateau, there remains today, a buried and well-hidden fortune of Spanish gold. The Utes have secretively concealed the foresters’ discovery deep inside mother earth. Throughout these subsequent years, although other old shafts have been exposed along the famed Lightning Ridge, the location of Wilford and Bill’s bonanza discovery has never been located by anyone.

    Best Wishes,

  4. First Lady Of The West

    Hmmmm…. Where were you on this day in 1836 and what were you doing? Narcissa Whitman was traveling west with her husband Marcus and together, they were going to spread the gospel and save the Nez Perce “heathens”, populating parts of Oregon. Indeed, the gorgeous, golden-haired woman with a lovely soprano voice, was the first female to take her place in western history. Crossing the Rocky Mountains, Narcissa gave birth to the first white child born west of the Continental Divide – a girl, she called Alice. Tragically, two-year-old young Alice later drowned – an incident that would affect Narcissa the rest of her life, pushing the woman to the very brink of psychotic madness.

    Narcissa Whitman—namesake for Whitman College that stands on the site of her mission home in Oregon—now tried to replace the girl with other children. However, she found the boys and girls of the Nez Perce tribe to be “alien and inferior”, and Narcissa found herself having no further interest in teaching or ministering to them. One historian claimed that she could never learn to love the “heathens” she came to save.

    In 1847, robust white migration into Oregon was taking place and with the influx of new people, came the dilemma of a distressing, devastating disease – measles. The disease struck the Nez Perce particularly hard, diminishing their numbers significantly, and the blame fell on Marcus Whitman. The Nez Perce attacked the Whitman mission on November 29, 1847 and killed both Marcus and Narcissa—her body being shot and whipped. Becoming a martyred figure in Oregon , her grave would be molested by wolves—a terrible finish of a woman who has a prime place in western history. The massacre? It became an impetus – a driving force – for Oregon’s eventual statehood.

  5. Two views of the new upgraded vehicle that Chuckwagon has acquired for use during the next “Project ‘B’ “. Note the pantry on the rear. (Garcia’s Motel/Gift Shop/Breakfast, Chinle, Arizona)

    Proving to you once again that no expense will be spared (spare change, anyone?) in the quest for high quality sausage.

    1. The air conditioning on this chuckwagon is just fabulous! However, this photo is a fake! My REAL chuckwagon has white sidewalls and peels out… it’s got 2 horsepower!

  6. Apple pie… hot dogs… Chevrolet… Stetson… baseball… and Marion Michael Morrison. What was that? Who was Michael Morrison? Let’s flash back to May 26th, 1907. Marion Michael Morrison was born on this day in Winterset, Iowa. When the boy was 6 years old, his family moved to Glendale, California and as a teen-ager, he delivered newspapers. During his High School years, he played football and delivered goods for local stores. Marion had hoped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy but was rejected. However, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The boy’s football coach found him a job as an assistant prop man on the set of a movie directed by John Ford. In the summer of 1926, John Ford began using Marion as an extra “on the set” and it wasn’t long before he started playing larger roles. In 1930, Ford recommended Marion Morrison for Fox’s epic Western The Big Trail. He won the part, but the movie did poorly, and Fox let his contract lapse. During the next decade, Morrison worked tirelessly in countless low-budget western films, sharpening his talents and developing a distinct cowboy character. Finally in 1939, his old mentor John Ford gave him his big break, casting him in his brilliant western, Stagecoach.

    Have you figured out who Marion Michael Morrison was? After Stagecoach, his career took off like a rocket! Among the dozens of Westerns he appeared in—many of them directed by Ford-were memorable classics like Tall in the Saddle (1944), Red River (1948), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon(1949), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). In all these films, Morrison – now called “The Duke”, embodied the simple, and perhaps simplistic, cowboy values of decency, honesty, and integrity.

    Yes, you’ve guessed it. The man’s producers had changed his name to John Wayne long before 1930 and besides Westerns, John Wayne also acted in war films with hits such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and Flying Leathernecks (1951). Throughout the Fifties and Sixties, he seemed to be America’s number one film hero, but a certain dark cloud appeared on the horizon. It seems that by the late 1960s, many Americans had tired of Wayne and his simplistically masculine and patriotic characters. Increasingly, western movies were rejecting the simple black-and-white moral codes championed by Wayne and replacing them with a more complex and tragic view of the American West. Nevertheless, deeply conservative in his politics, Wayne used his 1968 film, The Green Berets, to express his support of the American government’s war in Vietnam.
    Followed by his Oscar-winning role in True Grit (1969), he began to escape the narrow confines of his own good-guy image. His final film, The Shootist (1976), won over even his most severe critics. Wayne—who was himself battling lung cancer—played a dying gunfighter whose moral codes and principles no longer fit in a changing world. Three years later, Wayne died of cancer. To this day, public polls identify him as one of the most popular actors of all time. Yup! Apple pie and baseball folks! And John Wayne.

    Today is also the birthday of James Arness… you know – the 6’ 7” Marshal Matt Dillon! Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1923, Arness was named James King Aurness. Did you ever wonder about that stiff leg of his and that slight limp? Arness was a war hero at Anzio where he was wounded in his right leg while serving in the army during World War II. Arness received the Purple Heart.

    John Wayne recognized the talents of Arness and the men became good friends. Wayne recommended Arness for the part of Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke along with several movie parts. Gunsmoke played for 20 seasons during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and when CBS threatened to cancel the show, fans lobbied, pushed, and petitioned successfully to keep it on the air.

    Arness had a brother in the business – Peter Graves, the star of Mission Impossible. Both men were tall and imposing, fighting for justice, and always defeated the bad guys with ease.

    Oh, and yes… let’s not forget one more actor born this day in 1912 near Brantford, Ontario… Jay Silverheels who played Tonto – faithful sidekick and “kemosabe” of the Lone Ranger.

  7. John Wesley Hardin was one of the most violent men in the history of the Old West. Hardin’s psychopathic tendencies became evident when he was just a youngster. At age 14, he stabbed a boy twice with a knife over the affections of a girl. A year later, at age 15, he shot and killed a black man having wrestled with him in a match. With little regard for law or life, he continued to kill, seemingly at the slightest provocation. Finally sentenced to prison in 1878, he admitted killing 44 men. At age 18, having murdered a Texas state police guard who was transferring him to Waco for a trial, Hardin had been eager to leave the state. The man was fortunate enough to be hired as a trail boss for a cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail. However, along the way, he proved unable to keep his sizzling temper under control for long when he observed another herd (from Mexico), crowding his animals from behind. Hardin rode over to the Mexican “jefe del rastro” (trail boss), and shot him through the heart. Eventually arriving in Abilene, Kansas on this day in 1871, he became friends with Marshal Wild Bill Hickok who was not concerned with prosecuting a murder that had taken place outside of his jurisdiction. Hardin, sixteen years younger than Hickok, received patrimonial treatment.

    While in Abilene, Hardin stayed at the American House Hotel where during one particular night, a stranger in the next room was snoring loudly. Hardin became so annoyed that he began firing bullets through the wall to quiet him. As the snoring continued, Hardin’s warning shots turned deadly until there was silence. Realizing that his friendship with Hickok would not save him, Hardin escaped through the hotel window and jumped down to the street and headed for Texas, wearing nothing but a nightshirt.

    Eventually the man was caught and served 15 years in the Huntsville, Texas, state penitentiary. Hardin was pardoned in 1892 and made an unsuccessful attempt to go straight. In August 1895, he died after being shot in the back by an El Paso policeman. Hardin was 42 years old.

  8. Hi Folks!
    Here are some amazing photos of the American West a hundred and fifty years ago! Some are just phenomenal! The Canyon de Chelly is El DuckO’s old haunt and the photos of Brown’s Park and Canyon Of Ladore show my old stompin’ grounds. I’ve got several canoes underwater on the Colorado River. Note the confluence of the Yampa and the Colorado where El DuckO used to skinny dip and wash his webbed feet!
    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. These photos would then make an encyclopedia.
    Yeee Hawwww! Enjoy the view folks.


    Best Wishes,

  9. Custer’s Last Words: “Where Did All These Indians Come From?”

    On this day, June 25th, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Custer’s scouts told him that a gigantic Indian village lay nearby in the valley of the Little Big Horn River. Custer said the scouts were “exaggerating” and closed the matter. The scouts had reported an “extraordinarily large gathering of certainly many thousands of Indians”. Indeed, Custer’s only fear was that the Indians would scatter before he could attack! Rather than wait for reinforcements, Custer presumptuously decided to move forward immediately and stage an unusual mid-day attack. As the 7th Cavalry boldly entered the valley, Custer divided the regiment of about 600 men into four battalions, keeping a force of 215 under his own command.

    Academically, Custer had not been the best of students at West Point. Actually, he was below average for his entire stay of four years, and once came very close to being drummed out for being AWOL from guard duty. He graduated last in his class. Custer was saturated with vanity and his personal appearance was most important to him. In particular, he would religiously comb and then treat his long, flowing, golden hair with a cinnamon scented tonic. Custer’s troops nicknamed him “Cinnamon” and later, “Iron Butt”, due to his penchant for extremely long horse marches.

    Now, in 1876, for more than a decade, Sioux Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse had been successful in resisting American efforts to confine and sequester their people to reservations. Both chiefs wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways. However, the growing numbers of white settlers invading their lands inevitably led to violent confrontations. Now, determined to resist the efforts of the U.S. Army to force them onto reservations, the Sioux, under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, confronted Custer and much of his 7th Cavalry at the top of a mound rising above the river called the Little Big Horn.

    There had been a treaty. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse had accepted the promises made by agents of the U.S. Government. The provisions specified that white men would not encroach upon the Black Hills, and the area would remain free Indian land. However, merely one year before, in 1875, the U.S. Army had blatantly ignored government treaty provisions by invading the sacred Black Hills. The invasion was only one of several broken provisions of the trust. Now, in desperation, many formerly cooperative Sioux and Cheyenne abandoned their reservations to join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. They would not return without a fight, and by the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Indians had gathered in a massive camp along a river in southern Montana called the Little Big Horn.

    “We must stand together or they will kill us separately,” Sitting Bull told them. “These soldiers have come shooting; they want war. All right, we’ll give it to them,” Sitting Bull concluded.

    Historians estimate there were as many as 11,000 Indians ready to engage in battle. Sitting Bull was too old to engage in the fighting himself, but his son, Crazy Horse, led the Indian forces against the invaders. The 215 soldiers of Custer’s divided regiment suddenly found they were under attack by an unbelievably growing number of Indians. Certainly Custer realized that his scouts had not exaggerated the size of the Indian force after all. Soon, Col. “Yellow Hair” Custer and his small force of men found themselves cut off and under attack by 3,000 armed braves. Within an hour, they were wiped out to the last man.

    The Battle of the Little Big Horn was the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians’ greatest victory and the U.S. Army’s worst defeat in the long and bloody Plains Indian War. However, the Indians were not allowed to celebrate the victory for long as the massacre of Custer and his 7th Cavalry outraged many Americans. It only confirmed the image of the “bloodthirsty Indians” in their minds, and the government became more determined to destroy or tame the “hostiles”. The army redoubled its efforts and promoted the war with vengeful fury. Consequently, within five years, almost all of the Sioux and Cheyenne would be confined to reservations. Crazy Horse was killed a year later, in 1877, after leaving the reservation without permission. Sitting Bull was shot and killed three years later in 1890 by a Lakota (Sioux) policeman.

    Best Wishes,

  10. Samuel Colt rescued the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers. Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole. Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife.
    Things began to change shortly after the mid 1830’s when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver (1836). Colt’s revolver combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots. When the weapon was cocked for firing, the chamber revolved automatically to bring the next shot into line with the barrel.
    Though the revolver was yet far less accurate than a well-made hunting rifle, the Colt handgun could be aimed with reasonable precision at a short distance (30 to 40 yards in the hands of an expert), because the interior bore was “rifled”–cut with a series of grooves spiraling down its length. The spiral grooves caused the slug to spin rapidly as it left the barrel, giving it gyroscopic stability. The five or six-shot capacity also made accuracy less important, since a missed shot could quickly be followed with others.
    Yet most cowboys, gamblers, and gunslingers could never have afforded such a revolver if not for the de facto subsidy the federal government provided to Colt by purchasing his revolvers in such great quantities. After the first batch of revolvers proved popular with soldiers, the federal government became one of Colt’s biggest customers, providing him with the much-needed capital to improve his production facilities. With the help of Eli Whitney and other inventors, Colt developed a system of mass production and interchangeable parts for his pistols that greatly lowered their cost.
    Never cheap by any means, by the early 1850s, Colt revolvers were inexpensive enough to be a favorite with Americans headed westward during the California Gold Rush. Between 1850 and 1860, Colt sold 170,000 of his “pocket” revolvers and 98,000 “belt” revolvers, mostly to civilians looking for a powerful and effective means of self-defense in the Wild West.

    Best Wishes,

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