Old West Saviors

Spirit Warriors Rise Up

Indian-Memorial-at-Little-Bighorn-Battlefield-National-MonumentThe Little Big Horn battlefield is the site of exquisite tragedy and triumph—depending on whose eyes are watching: tragedy for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and half his 7th Cavalry, who were wiped out there in June 1876; triumph for the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, who won the battle to protect their ancestral lands.

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Saving Madam Jennie’s Place

mary-willis-and-sally-dryer_Jerome_preservationistsIf the old girl were still around—if Madam Jennie Bauters could see her “crib” and hotel now—she’d probably fan herself with an ostrich feather and say, “Way to go, girls!”

“Jennie’s Place” in Jerome, Arizona, will likely survive another hundred years because of the new life given it by the foresight, endurance and just plain stubbornness of Mary Wills and Sally Dryer.

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The Windsor Widow

Mark Jones_Windsor Hotel renovationMark Jones thought he was having a leisurely haircut in the small Colorado town of Del Norte that he and his wife had chosen for their retirement. It was 1998, and Jones was due for time off after heading the capital facilities department at Stanford University, where he had overseen the restoration of several major buildings.

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The Last Bonanza Farm

OWS_bonaza-farm_virginia-goergerPerhaps the greatest example in the Old West of making lemonade out of lemons is what happened in Dakota Territory in the 1870s.

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Main Street Dreams

Zuni-Creek_-MS-Ceremony_Gov-Quetawki-congratsMain Street has a particular  meaning in America. It’s where everything started, and where great memories still live. For Zuni Gov. Arlen Quetawki, Main Street means new life and opportunities for his tribe.

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The West’s Most Western Town

scottsdale-arizona-postcard-1950In Arizona’s high noon showdown over the brand the “West’s Most Western Town,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia faced off with their hands on their holsters.

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A Bawdy Queen of the Row

Miss-lauras-social-club-fort-smithIn its day, the “queen of the row” cost three times more for a trip upstairs than any other bordello charged in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Miss Laura would collect your $3 and send you on your way.

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Curtis’s Big Dream

zuni-indian-girlsHers is a simple, worn face; mouth and eyes downturned—in sadness, in waiting, in remembrance? That humble portrait of an old woman—Princess Angeline in Seattle, Washington, 1895—launched a nearly 40-year career unparalleled in its importance to the American West.

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Back in the Badlands

sharon-Kilzer-project-manager-north-dakotaHe was a 24-year-old New Yorker who wanted to kill a buffalo.

That’s how Theodore Roosevelt first came to the Medora area of Dakota Territory in 1883.

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The Two-Reel Texas Rascal

ows_frick_john-wayne_alamoWhat comes first to mind when you want to talk Western history? Probably Texas.

Caroline Frick guessed that, even while she was working at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., or at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, California.

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Comanche Crusader

LaDonna-Harris_Johnny-Depp_true-west-magazineThe first time LaDonna Harris got involved in a civil rights issue, she was not fighting on behalf of her Comanche people, but for her black babysitter.

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A Dinner to Remember

Tommy_Delia-Perez_Deming-New-MexicoThe “most memorable dinner party in the Old West” just may be Julius Rosch’s stag dinner in Deming, New Mexico, in 1913.

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Hometown Visionaries

john-and-donna-sickles-saint-joeThe “Wizard of Oz” taught that you don’t have to go far from home to find your dream. Donna and John Sickles know what that means, and Saint Jo, Texas, is thankful.

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Uptop in the Spanish Peaks

Deb-Lathrop_Sam-Law_uptop-colorado_restored-frontier-townOne day, a dozen years ago, two sisters from New England decided they “never wanted to wear high heels or pantyhose again.” To keep that promise, they traveled an amazing distance, all the way to a Colorado mountaintop.

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Rancho Deluxe

Rancho-Deluxe_Able-Stearns_John-BixbyThe first time Pamela Seager visited the run-down Rancho los Alamitos, she noticed its potential. “There was an integrity,” she says. “It wasn’t tricked up. It had all the good bone structure, but it needed to be polished.”

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Who is Alice Paul?

joan_molly-butler_greer-az-greer-lodgeJoan Anderson Meacham remembers being “so irritated and angry.” In 1979, the educated, 44 year old serving on the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women in Cape May, New Jersey, got an invitation from the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, prompting her to ask, “Who is Alice Paul?”

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Healing Hot Springs

ee_david-manuel_hot-lake-springs-hotelThe first time Lee and David Manuel laid eyes on Hot Lake Springs, they thought the three-story brick building could star in a horror movie: it had no roof, no floors and no windows. Empty for most of the last 70 years, the building was obscured by a forest of overgrown trees and shrubs, a majority of them long dead.

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The Saloon Keeper

Roger-Kislingbury-Saloon-keeperThe cowboys and Indians did not catch five-year-old Roger Kislingbury’s attention in 1949, the year his dad bought an RCA television that allowed him to watch Western shows and movies.

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The Hand Saw Man

gary-barker_log-cabin-restorationGary Barker could tell you how old log cabins fall apart. He had spent a decade as a YMCA camp caretaker in Minnesota, using best guesses, luck and determination to keep the buildings in working order.

But in 2002, a friend told him about a Clearwater County Historical Society workshop that taught people how to restore log cabins from the 1800s. Barker jumped at the opportunity to participate.

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A Mandan Circle Unbroken

Cory-Spotted-Bear_s-Earth-LodgeCory Spotted Bear is making up for lost time. He learned about the rich heritage of his Mandan people as an adult, and now he’s bringing back a centerpiece of his ancestors: round earth houses.

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Singing for His Supper


Cy Scarborough’s heart never was in the “Natural State,” even though he was born and raised in Arkansas 85 years ago.

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