Documenting pioneers, cow towns, mining territories, railroads, and battlefield sites, The Old West Then and Now chronicles the exciting and often brutal history of life on the American frontier.
Written by Vaughan Grylls
The book hitches up its wagon and begins its epic journey in St. Louis along with many other pioneer start-points on the Mississippi/Missouri rivers, such as Minneapolis, Omaha and Kansas City.
It traverses out into the Great Plains via Wichita, Dodge City, and up into the Badlands of Rapid City and Laramie. Vintage photos of frontier outposts, mining towns, wagon trains, forts, staging posts, railheads, lawless streets and even battlefield sites are paired with the same viewpoint today.
The running narrative describes the part that town or location played in helping open up America or how it added to the folklore of the Wild West.
The book criss-crosses the many routes that opened up the West for settlement, from Lewis and Clark's expedition after the Louisiana purchase through to the opening up of the Indian Territories and Oklahoma statehood in 1907 followed by Arizona and New Mexico in 1912.
We cross the principal wagon train trails, the railroad routes that superseded them, the cattle drive routes to the railheads, the 49'er and subsequent mining shanty towns, the lawless cities of frontier America and the main battle sites of the Indian Wars, as well as the main Indian reservations.
Picked up in the text are key themes such as the 19th century boosterism of the West as the place to "make good"--precursor to the American dream--and the West's subsequent presentation as entertainment by showmen such as Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, which soon evolved into the Hollywood Western.