Yeehaw! Wild Fun Facts to Know About the American West

Yeehaw! Wild Fun Facts to Know About the American West

Few images are quite so American as the image of the Old West. It’s easy to picture cowboys on horseback and covered carriages riding into clapboard-covered towns just in time for a shoot-out at high noon.

Of course, the Old West wasn’t quite as wild and wooly as people think most of the time. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting. Saddle up and get ready for some wild fun facts to know about the American West.

The Real Lone Ranger?

One of the most famous fictional figures of the West has to be the Lone Ranger, the masked vigilante who roamed the region, fighting bad guys with his sidekick Tonto. Surprisingly, there was a real figure who resembled him in Oklahoma Territory by the name of Bass Reeves.

A former slave, Reeves was one of the first black deputy US Marshalls west of the Mississippi and was credited with as many as 3,000 arrests. Along with being a remarkable sharp-shooter, Reeves has a few other notable similarities to the lone ranger

  • He was born in Texas.
  • He sometimes left silver dollars as a calling card (like the Lone Ranger’s silver bullets).
  • He often wore disguises.
  • He worked with Native American trackers and spoke the language of three of the major tribes of the territory.
  • Many outlaws he arrested were in Detroit, where the creator of the Lone Ranger character lived.

Whether Reeves was the inspiration for the Lone Ranger isn’t clear. But he was certainly as close to him as you could get in real life.

Suffrage a Little Early

Another fun fact to know about the American West is that women had their first opportunity to gain suffrage there, even though men outnumbered them. In 1869—51 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment—women in Wyoming territory gained the right.

The first woman to cast her vote for a public office was 70-year-old Louisa Ann Swaine of Laramie, Wyoming, in 1870. Apparently, she put on an apron, walked down to cast her vote, stopped by the store for some yeast, then went home—no word on how the bread turned out.

Origin of a Fashion Icon

These days, there are many cowboy hat styles. We choose the hat we want based entirely on looks instead of function. But a Western-born cowpoke wasn’t the one who created the cowboy hat; the inventor was actually a New Jerseyite hat maker named John B. Stetson.

While striking out as a gold miner near Pike’s Peak, he noticed that Westerners were wearing whatever hats they could find, derbies, soldier caps, and even top hats. These short-brimmed hats did little to protect them from the elements.

So, with his family’s hat-making skills, he developed a large, wide-brimmed hat as a joke that he ended up selling to a passing traveler for 5 dollars (almost 84 dollars today). After he opened his hat factory in 1865, the Stetson hat quickly became the hat of the West.

FAQ

Is the Lone Ranger real?

One of the most famous fictional figures of the West has to be the Lone Ranger, the masked vigilante who roamed the region, fighting bad guys with his sidekick Tonto. Surprisingly, there was a real figure who resembled him in Oklahoma Territory by the name of Bass Reeves.

Additional Resources:

Texas

Florida

Rhode Island

Hollywood

Scotland

Mexico

Russia

Peru

Japan

South Korea

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