Best of the West

True West's Best of the West 2004 Winners

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Celebrating our 50th anniversary, we at True West again reveal our hoarded nuggets, our favorite out-of-the-way secrets: the best brothel museum, the top country music artist, the wildest Western towns—the West’s best, bar none. We also share your picks in the Readers’ Choice. So dive on in and feast on the best of the West. We’re betting you’ll be glad you did.

Best Cowboy Artist of All Time

Charlie Russell

Some may quibble with the singular title (many consider Russell-Remington to be joined at the easel), but Charlie Russell was the first bona fide cowboy artist in the land. Remington painted many cowboys, Indians and soldiers, but Russell created some 5,000 Western works of art and never once portrayed a soldier. Interesting, eh? Readers’ Choice: Charlie Russell

 

Best Contemporary Western Artist

John Moyers

Because of the proliferation of so-called “Cowboy Art,” it is increasingly hard to break new trails, especially when the back trail is lit by such painting giants as Gordon Snidow, Bill Owen and James Reynolds. But one young artist (okay, he’s 45) is breathing new life into a somewhat predictable genre. John Moyers, the son of cowboy artist William Moyers, has not only found new trails but also new ways to incorporate old, classic themes, and his emphasis on Mexican vaqueros is a breath of fresh air. Not surprisingly, John is currently president of Cowboy Artists of America. Readers’ Choice: Buck Taylor

 

Best Native American Artist

Jordan Torres

Though he’s not as well-known as Pahponee or Oreland C. Joe, we opt for this New Mexico artist whose alabaster sculptures recreate his Lipan, Mescalero and Chiricahua Apache heritage. Besides, how many Indian artists are descendants of Cochise? Readers’ Choice: Maria Martinez

 

Best Western Historical Sculptor

Robert Broshears

Although Bob has sculpted everything from wildlife to mountain men, it was his portrayal of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp that got our attention. The level of detail, down to the removable revolvers with ivory grips, sets his work apart from any we’ve ever seen.

 

Best Western Sculptor

Susan Kliewer

Susan credits her father’s career in forestry and a wall calendar painting by Frederic Remington for awakening her interest in art when she was a child.  Susan’s bronzes depict everything from Native Americans and cowboys to a 10-foot tall bronze monument honoring Sedona Schnebly, the namesake of Sedona, Arizona.

 

Best Living Western Historical Novelist

Lucia St. Clair Robson

Beginning with her first book, Ride the Wind (about Comanche captive Cynthia Ann Parker), through her latest, Ghost Warrior: Lozen of the Apaches, Lucia combines a historian’s knowledge of facts with a novelist’s understanding of the human condition. As a result, she’s able to transport her readers to a world that is so real, they can smell the sweat.

 

Best Living Western Novelist

Elmer Kelton

Winner of seven Spur Awards and, in 1995, voted “the greatest Western author of all time” by Western Writers of America. Enough said!

 

Best National Publisher of Western Fiction

Forge Books

New York, New York

Forge’s stable of Western writers is a Who’s Who of the genre. At a time when much of the publishing industry considers the Western novel if not dead, certainly comatose, Forge keeps Western literature alive by publishing authors such as Elmer Kelton, Lucia St. Clair Robson and Loren Estleman. Readers’ Choice: Bantam Dell/New York, NY

 

Best National Publisher of Western Nonfiction

Arthur H. Clark Co.

Spokane, Washington

The company’s decision to reissue LeRoy R. Hafen’s 10-volume masterpiece The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West (to date eight volumes have been reprinted) all but guaranteed Arthur H. Clark Co. would win this category. The company’s offering of rare books on the American West is as good as the best university presses and better than most. Readers’ Choice: University of Oklahoma Press/Norman, OK

 

Best Place to Publish Your Own Book

Morris Publishing

Kearney, Nebraska

So you’ve written a novel about your great-great gunfighting-grandfather and the New York publishers aren’t beating down your door. Not to worry, Morris Publishing may be your answer. This family-owned publishing company specializes in short-run printing—200 to 5,000 copies. Morris will walk you through the steps needed to get your book from your computer to bookstore shelves. And yes, Morris will take the mystery out of bar codes, ISBNs and Library of Congress Control Numbers.

 

Best Regional Publisher of Western Nonfiction

The Early West

College Station, Texas

Whether it’s Billy the Kid or John Wesley Hardin, the Early West’s repertoire of books on 19th-century outlaws and lawmen is certain to thrill and satisfy the most discerning Old West buff.

 

Best University Press Publisher of Western Nonfiction

University of Oklahoma Press

Norman, Oklahoma

With its annual offering of new books about the American West and its large inventory of backlisted Western history titles, the UOP is a godsend to both professional writers and armchair historians. While many university presses ignore the history of the Old West in favor of more trendy subjects, the UOP keeps our Western heritage from being forgotten.

 

Best Backcountry Outfitter

High Wild & Lonesome

Big Piney, Wyoming

Ranch-raised Mike and Bobbi Wade get high marks for celebrating everything Western in the Cowboy State. They’ll help you get up close and personal with wild mustangs, cattle drives and the Pony Express Trail, while you soak up history, oodles of sunshine and Wyoming’s fall colors. These cowboy, horseback adventures aren’t for the faint of heart or soft of butt. Readers’ Choice: Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures/Sidney, NE

 

Best Contemporary Western Designer

Chandler Liberty

Liberty Westerns

Santa Fe, New Mexico

She’s Nashville’s Music Row, Dodge City’s Front Street and a New York runway rolled into one. Chandler Liberty’s custom-made apparel is a throwback to Nudie Cohen while incorporating the contemporary style of Manuel. She has helped outfit the cast of Annie Get Your Gun and millionaires wanting a one-of-a-kind look for a buckaroo ball. Readers’ Choice: Panhandle Slim/Fort Worth, TX

 

Best Historic Western Designer

Recollections

Hawks, Michigan

If Ethel Place, the Sundance Kid’s beautiful paramour, were alive today, she would undoubtedly purchase her dresses at Recollections. Only here will you find a bathing suit that reminds you of a summer dress with short pants. Oh, excuse us, we mean a bathing costume. Readers’ Choice: Wahmaker/Oxnard, CA

 

Best Vintage Western Clothing Outfitter

Scully

Oxnard, California

Dan Scully’s company has earned accolades for its leather line, but more recently its vintage clothing has come into vogue. Scully produces the Wahmaker line—popular with Single Action Shooting Society members. In addition, its retro look of singing cowboy shirts would leave Gene, Roy and Dale envious. Readers’ Choice: Wild West Mercantile/Phoenix, AZ

 

Best Family Oriented Dude Ranch

Elkhorn Ranch

Tucson, Arizona

The Elkhorn Ranch is one of those places where memories of a lifetime are created. Located about 60 miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona, this family-owned dude ranch has been dealing out Western hospitality since 1945.

 

Best Dude Ranches

Arizona: Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson

Colorado: Lost Valley Ranch, Sedalia

Idaho: Diamond D Ranch, Stanley

Oklahoma: Flying W Guest Ranch, Sayre

Montana: Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch,

Big Fork

New Mexico: Double E. Guest Ranch, Gila

Texas: Y.O. Ranch, Mountain Home

Washington: K Diamond K, Republic

Wyoming: Crossed Sabres Ranch, WapitiBest Guided Trail Ride

 

Spur Cross Stables

Cave Creek, Arizona

So you don’t have time for a dude ranch, but you still want to go for a great ride?  Experienced wranglers can guide you through the splendor of the Spur Cross Ranch in the Tonto National Forest.  Experienced horsepeople and first-time riders alike will enjoy Indian petroglyphs and ruins as well as desert wildlife, so don’t forget your spurs.

 

Best Horse Trainer

Paul Dietz

Desert Hills, Arizona

Paul Dietz’s expertise with horses is sought out by everyone from beginning riders to Olympic gold medalists. Whether you’re trail riding, working cow horses, competing or you just want to hone your horsemanship, Dietz can take you from green to cowboy better than most. Readers’ Choice: Pat Parelli/Pagosa Springs, CO

 

Best Trick Roper

Will Rogers

Sure there are other guys and gals skilled at twirling a rope. None of them, however, have Will Rogers’ panache. Until his untimely death in a small plane, this “Roping Fool” entertained millions with not only his rope skills but also his wit. Readers’ Choice: Will Rogers

 

Best Mounted Shooting Event

World Championship

Cowboy Mounted Shooters of America

Scottsdale, Arizona

Each November, this is the “best of the best” from the founding organization for this fast-growing sport where marksmanship and horsemanship are critical. The CMSA boasts 101 affiliate clubs nationwide and calls itself a “family-vested organization” where you’re likely to see three generations—from grandpa to granddaughter—competing for the biggest purse in the sport. And best yet, the members proudly carry on the traditions of the Old West.

 

Best Single Action Shooting Match

End of Trail

Norco, California

No matter if you’re the fastest gun alive—single action, that is, no double actions here—or you enjoy watching talented shooters dressed as if they had just stepped out of an Overland stagecoach, this annual five-day world championship of cowboy action is just plain fun. Readers’ Choice: End of Trail

 

Best Old West Shoot-out

Coffeyville Raid

In terms of sheer firepower and killing action, it’s hard to match the number of bullets and shooters in front of and inside the Condon bank in downtown Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892. The ill-fated Dalton raid on two banks simultaneously resulted in the deaths of four outlaws, four townsmen and four horses. If you’re into numerology, or simply a student of Old West history, one thing is clear: don’t mess with Kansas farmers during hunting season.

 

Best Trick Gun Handler

Joey Dillon

Watching Joey “twirl” his Cimarron single action revolvers gives new meaning to “Shock & Awe.” Dillon won the World Gunspinning Championship in 2001. Now 22, Dillon has won the Wild West Arts Club Championship, the Pat Rowan Award for Gunhandling and the Joe Bowman Award for Showmanship.

 

Best Trick Shooter

Bob Munden

For the second year, Bob has earned this honor. No one comes close to Bob’s ability; he’s so fast that his reaction time baffles neurologists. He’s not just fast, he’s accurate, regularly splitting playing cards in half at exhibitions. That’s right, he cuts them in half (through the skinny side, not the face of the card).

 

Best Brass-Framed Repeater

Henry Big Boy

Henry Repeating Arms Co.

Brooklyn, New York

Chambered in .44 magnum, this big lever action powerhouse will never be mistaken for a squirrel gun. And besides packing a wallop, the gun has a famous pedigree, tracing its lineage back to the man who invented the famous Henry Rifle, Benjamin Tyler Henry. During the Civil War, one Confederate officer said, “It’s a rifle that you could load on Sunday and shoot all week long.

 

Best Cap and Ball Revolver Reproduction

1851 Navy Colt

Navy Arms Co.

Union City, New Jersey

If this handgun was good enough for Wild Bill Hickok, it’s good enough for us. He carried a pair of ’51 Navy Colts even after the advent of cartridge revolvers. Navy Arms’ reproduction, chambered in .36 or .44 caliber, is a pleasure to own, whether you want to shoot it or merely put it out for display. Readers’ Choice: 1851 Navy Colt

 

Best Cartridge Conversion Revolver Reproduction

1860 Richards-Mason

Army Conversion

Cimarron F.A. Co.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Cimarron’s 1860 Richards-Mason Army Conversion reproduction, chambered in .45 S&W Schofield, .44 Colt, .44 Russian or .38 special, is accurate and fun to shoot. Original conversion models were as popular with Old West cowboys (who couldn’t afford a newer Colt Single Action Army) as the replicas are with today’s cowboy action shooters.

 

Best Commemorative Firearm

John Wayne Coach Gun

America Remembers

Ashland, Virginia

True West field editor Phil Spangenberger picked the double-barrel shotgun as the most important gun of the 19th century (Feb/March 2003). America Remembers’ commemorative 24-karat gold-engraved, 12-gauge double-barrel coach gun not only celebrates the shotgun’s importance in “taming” the Old West, but it also serves as a tribute to John Wayne. Readers’ Choice: 1984 Winchester-Colt Commemorative Set by U.S. Repeating Arms Co./New Haven, Connecticut

 

Best Custom Gunsmith

Bob James

Legendary Guns

Phoenix, Arizona

About 40 years ago, the sport of quick draw got Bob into gunsmithing when he needed to build up his own single action revolvers so they would be able to stand the thousands of rounds of ammunition he was firing. Today, Bob’s reputation as a gun doctor has gun owners lining up at his doorstep, whether it’s to beef up a factory gun or to restore a valuable antique.

 

Best Custom Old West Gun Manufacturer

Kenny Howell

R & D Gun Shop

Beloit, Wisconsin

Kenny is classified as a gun manufacturer and not simply a gunsmith because he’s one of a few who can make a gun from a block of steel and wood. We’re not talkin’ just any gun. Kenny made the revolvers used by Will Smith in the remake of Wild Wild West. He also made Tom Selleck’s guns for The Last Stand at Sabre River, Crossfire Trail, Monte Walsh and the upcoming The Empty Land.


Best Lever Action Rifle

.30-30 Model 336

The Marlin Firearms Co.

North Haven, Connecticut

When John Marlin first made the Model 336 in 1893, he probably never guessed he had just produced what would become his company’s most famous rifle and one of the most popular rifles of all time. Today, Marlin’s .30-30 is still top dog among lever action rifles, in part because its sturdy receiver permits more chamberings than its competition.

 

Best Old West Non-firing Replica Firearm

1892 (Winchester) Western Carbine

Collector’s Armoury

Alexandria, Virginia

Made famous by the TV series The Rifleman and Wanted Dead or Alive, the 1892 carbine has the same weight and feel as the real gun but is inexpensive and safe. And yes, the lever action works, so you can spin-cock like Chuck Connors to your heart’s content.

 

Best Old West Rifle Reproduction

Model 1865 Spencer Carbine

Taylor’s & Co.

Winchester, Virginia

Taylor’s & Co., Inc. and Armi Sport have teamed up to build the best Spencer rifle reproduction on the market today, one offering a smooth action that will stand up to years of use. First produced by Christopher Miner Spencer, the Model 1865 corrected design flaws in Spencer’s original 1860 model and gained a solid reputation on the American frontier. Readers’ Choice: Uberti’s 1866 “Yellowboy” Carbine by Benelli USA/Pocomoke, MD

 

Best Sharps Rifle Manufacturer

C. Sharps Arms Co.

Big Timber, Montana

When you think of 19th-century buffalo hunters, the name Sharps nearly always comes to mind. Big-bore blackpowder rifles, such as the Sharps Model 1874, were the boss gun of the Great Plains. Today, C. Sharps Arms continues that tradition with its new Model 1874 Sharps Boss Gun, which carries with it more than 100 years of tradition. Quality is the reason the registered trademark of C. Sharps continues to be “Old Reliable.”

 

Best Single Action Army Reproduction

“The Rodeo”

United States Fire Arms Mfg. Co.

Hartford, Connecticut

Made in Hartford, Connecticut, the cradle of the nation’s early gun manufacturers, the modern single action army “Rodeo” is historically correct down to its use of a solid firing pin. This revolver makes the Old West a little more accessible to us all. Readers’ Choice: Cimarron Model 1873 Single Action Army by Cimarron F.A. Co./Fredericksburg, TX

 

Best Single Action Revolver—Historic

Colt .45 “Peacemaker”

Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co.

Hartford, Connecticut

The name Colt is synonymous with the Old West. In fact, we’re sure you’ve heard the axiom “God created man, but Samuel Colt made them equal.” This mainstay firearm was so reliable and innovative, a first generation .45 caliber Colt is one of the most collected guns today. True West’s field editor Phil Spangenberger rated the Peacemaker as #5 on his list of the 50 guns that won the West.


Best Single Action Revolver—Modern

Ruger Bisley Vaquero Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Southport, Connecticut

This is the ideal revolver for those wanting the Old West look with the safety of Ruger’s transfer bar mechanism and loading gate interlock. The SASS-approved Bisley Vaquero is kind to your gun hand, whether chambered in .357 magnum, .45 Colt, .44-40 or—for the Dirty Harry types—.44 magnum.

 

Best Old West Saloons

Alaska: Red Dog, Juneau

Arizona: Copper Queen Hotel, Bisbee

California: The Crazy Horse, Irvine

Colorado: The Buckhorn Exchange, Denver

Idaho: Casino, Ketchum

Kansas: Long Branch Saloon, Dodge City

Minnesota: Sweeneys Saloon, St. Paul

Montana: Montana Bar, Miles City

Nevada: Mt. Charleston Lodge, Mount Charleston

New Mexico: Cowgirl Bar, Santa Fe

North Dakota: The Iron Horse, Medora

Oregon: Jake’s, Portland

South Dakota: Saloon # 10, Deadwood

Texas: White Elephant Saloon, Fort Worth

Wyoming: Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Jackson

 

Best Haunted Saloon

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon

Tombstone, Arizona

Lots of old saloons say they’re haunted. Big Nose Kate’s (formerly the Grand Hotel) claims to have regular hauntings witnessed by numerous patrons. Whether they’re a dead cowboy or soiled dove, the ghostly occurrences boggle the mind. Aggressive spirits have been known to push unwitting waitresses down the back stairs. It’s not a place we’d like to be locked in overnight. Readers’ Choice: Birdcage Theatre/Tombstone, AZ

 

Best Historically Accurate Saloon

Irma Hotel

Cody, Wyoming

When Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel opened in 1902, its most talked about feature was the saloon’s cherrywood bar (see p. 98). It was a gift from Queen Victoria of England to show her gratitude for a court performance of the Wild West Show. Even today, the bar remains the hotel’s pièce de résistance. Readers’ Choice: The Crystal Palace/Tombstone, AZ

 

Best Saloon Frequented by an Old West Icon

The Crystal Palace

Tombstone, Arizona

It doesn’t get more authentic than this. The Earps, Doc Holliday and anyone who was anybody regularly drank at the Crystal Palace. It was the place to be seen in old Tombstone. Set ’em up!

 

Best Western Saloon to Get Smashed In

The Buffalo Chip Saloon

Cave Creek, Arizona

The Buffalo Chip is one of the last truly great cowboy saloons. Patrons regularly ride their horses to the bar for an evening of hard liquor, hot women and great music. This official rodeo bar for the local Fiesta Days Rodeo has been a cowboy watering hole for almost 50 years. Readers’ Choice: Big Nose Kate’s Saloon/Tombstone, AZ

 

Best Mountain Range—Large

Wind River Mountains

Wyoming

From history to spectacular scenery, the Wind River Mountains have it all. Jedediah Smith, Bill Sublette, Jim Bridger and a host of other mountain men found the Winds to be a beaver paradise. The range’s South Pass was the key to the Oregon and California Trails crossing the Continental Divide. And the headwaters of the Seeds-kee-dee—oops, we mean the Green River—are here.

 

Best Mountain Range—Small

Pioneer Mountains

Idaho

Okay, we’ll admit the Pioneer Mountains made the “Best of the West” because our editor has climbed so many of the range’s peaks. Produced by Basin and Range faulting—if True West were a geology magazine, we’d explain that—the Pioneers are one of several small mountain ranges that surround Sun Valley, Idaho, and make the vacation mecca so spectacular.

 

Best Old West Trail

Santa Fe Trail

The Oregon Trail may have carried more people, but the Santa Fe Trail is older—by nearly 20 years—having been opened by William Becknell, a merchant-trader, in 1821. Initially running from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the trail earned its way into the “Best of the West” through its importance to Old West commerce. Soon after the trail opened, freight conveys were carrying upwards of a million dollars a year in Mexican silver and merchandise between Missouri and the Republic of Mexico’s northern outpost. Readers’ Choice: Santa Fe Trail

 

Best Scenic Road Trip Under 100 Miles

Ketchum, Idaho, to the Stanley Basin

This road trip through South-central Idaho is one of our favorites. From Ketchum, Idaho State Highway 75 heads north (for the most part), following the Big Wood River toward its source near Galena Pass—8,701 feet—where the highway drops into the Stanley Basin, home to the headwaters of the Salmon River, dubbed by William Clark as “The River of No Return.” And did we mention alpine peaks? The route snakes between the Boulder, Smoky, White Cloud and Sawtooth Mountains. Readers’ Choice: Highway 49/California

 

Best Scenic Road Trip Under 500 Miles

Yosemite National Park to Lone Pine, California

The drive from Yosemite Village alongside the Merced River will have you craning your neck as you attempt to take in the towering granite walls that define Yosemite Valley. Then as you climb along California State Highway 120 to Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass—9,945 feet—you’ll wish you’d brought more film for your camera. Once on U.S. 395, heading south toward Lone Pine, you’ll think you’re in Switzerland as you gaze at the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ rugged eastern escarpment. Readers’ Choice: Beartooth Highway/Near Red Lodge, MT

 

Best Beef Jerky

El Reed 1870s Terlingua Beef Jerky

McKinney, Texas

This stuff’s so tasty, our mouths are watering as we write this. The recipe for El Reed’s jerky was handed down to Stiles Belcher from his great-grandfather, Texas cattleman and gunfighter Aaron “El” Reed (whose story was published in the Aug. 1976 True West).

 

Best Cowboy China

“Rodeo Pattern” Dinnerware

True West

Royse City, Texas

Serve a meal on these rustic Western place settings or, if you’ve got the collector’s bug, invest in this heirloom-quality china for the future. The Rodeo Westward Ho was the most popular pattern of the Wallace China Company, which produced it in the 1940s-1960s. Its collectible status resulted in the 1990s reproduction of this rodeo set that no Western family’s dinner table should be without. And no, we at True West magazine don’t make it. Readers’ Choice: True West’s “Rodeo Pattern” Dinnerware

 

Best Desert Critter to Sink its Fangs Into You

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Last year the gila monster won, but then our readers pointed out that gilas don’t have fangs. So, in an effort to be accurate—we are True West after all—we thought we’d pick a critter with hypodermic needles for teeth. Fearsome . . . when one of these babies sets to buzzin’, octogenarians have been known to jump higher ’n a split-rail fence. Readers’ Choice: Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

Best Old West Coffee Company

New Mexico Piñon Coffee

Albuquerque, New Mexico

With its coffee beans carefully roasted in a small-batch roaster, it’s no wonder the New Mexico Piñon nut and five-bean blend of Arabica coffee is recognized as unique in 11 countries (including the U.S.). New Mexico’s Piñon tree is often called the Manna of the Desert, perhaps because there’s an aphrodisiac quality inherent in the nut. Readers’ Choice: Arbuckles’ Coffee

 

Best Place to Find an Antique Watch

Old Time Antique Pocket Watch

Red Wing, Minnesota

We love this place so much, the True West staff got its favorite boss a seven-jewel, circa 1918 Waltham from here. (If you ever meet Bob Boze Bell, be sure to ask him for the time.) Re-enactors, SASS and CMSA members often purchase Old West-era pocket watches, not only to add to their costumes’ authenticity, but also to own a genuine piece of history.

 

Best Rocky Mountain Oysters—Bulls ‘n’ Beyond

Rock Creek Lodge

Near Clinton, Montana

Hispanic cowboy at Texas’ King Ranch asks a Boys’ Life reporter while throwing certain body parts of unfortunate male cattle into a Hefty bag: “You ever try a Rocky Mountain oyster?” Boys’ Life reporter: “Uh, no.” Cowboy: “Man, that’s the best eating in the world.” Boys’ Life reporter: “I’ll take your word for it.” Rock Creek Lodge’s Testicle Festival allows over 15,000 visitors to gobble up 1.5 tons of the aforementioned delicacy. Readers’ Choice: Proud Cut Saloon/Cody, WY

 

Best Western Action Figure

Mark Twain Caricature Figurine

Dog Soldiers

Alexandria, Virginia

Although Dog Soldiers specializes in authentic American Indian 12-inch action figures, the whimsical five-inch Mark Twain caricature figurine is our favorite. They also have other figures for the kid in you, including a Chiricahua Apache War Leader and an 1870s Buffalo Soldier. Readers’ Choice: Johnny West by Marx Toys/Sebring, OH

 

Best Western Auction

Greg Martin Auctions

San Francisco, California

Greg Martin Auctions—started in 2002 by three former members of Butterfields Auctions—offers over a century of combined auction and appraisal experience. The firm specializes in weapons, armor and historic memorabilia, and recently sold a Colt Model 1849 pocket revolver for a $740,000 bid. Readers’ Choice: (Tie) Brian Lebel’s Annual Cody Old West Show & Auction/Cody, WY and Little John’s Auction Service/Orange, CA

 

Best Western Mythical Creature

Bigfoot

Last fall, Dr. Jane Goodall announced on NPR that Bigfoot exists because Native Americans mention the same sounds when describing him, and London’s Natural History Museum couldn’t identify what British scientists believe to be a Bigfoot hair. (To her credit, Goodall did admit that it’s the romantic in her that wants to believe.)  Readers’ Choice: Jackalope

 

Best Wyatt Earp Collectible

Gold Plated 1873 Colt .45 Revolver

Investment Arms

Fort Collins, Colorado

The first in their gunfighter series, this is truly a work of art. The heirloom piece is layered in 24-karat gold and nickel silver, with walnut laser-carved grips and the images of Wyatt and the men who fought beside him near the O.K. Corral. Now if Wyatt Earp had been packing a gold plated hogleg in 1881, he and the McLaurys may really have had something to fight about.

 

Best Indian War Chief

Geronimo

Geronimo did it all. He was tough, shrewd, a survivor of many ambushes and once outran (on foot) a mounted Mexican militia all the way back to his home in Arizona. Late in his career, he led almost the entire U.S. Army on a wild goose chase all over Mexico and never was captured. True, he surrendered on four different occasions, but it was always on his terms. Readers’ Choice: Crazy Horse

 

Best Mountain Man

John Colter

He scouted the Louisiana Purchase and Pacific Northwest with Lewis and Clark. He trapped the headwaters of the Missouri River. He’s credited with being the first white man to see the geysers of Yellowstone National Park. He outran the Blackfeet in a race for his life. And unlike some other famous mountain men, John Colter died at home in bed—of jaundice. Readers’ Choice: Jim Bridger

 

Best Old West Lawman

Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok pinned on the star and held his own in hellholes such as Hays City, Wichita and Abilene. These towns were as rough as they come and Hickok handled them all with style, aplomb and an even hand. Our hats are way off to you Bill (even though your name was James). Readers’ Choice: Wyatt Earp

 

Best Outlaw—Female

Bonnie Parker

When it comes to brazen outlaw achievement, we have to go with the roughest, meanest, lawdog-killer of the West—the one, the only,...

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