Hell On Wheels

The pioneering into the Western United States through the beginning all the way to the end of the 19th century was not only a turning point in America’s history through industrial advances, but in pure civilized nature. The Union Pacific railroad expansion offered thousands of jobs and new ways of life to countless Americans, but as with anything, there comes bad with good. Towns such as Cheyenne, Laramie, and many others started as the towns founded by workers that took the term Wild West literally. Most towns faded after the railways and mines shut down, but a few have flourished into civilized, modern cities.

The activity of the place is surprising, and the wickedness is unimaginable and appalling. This is a great center for gamblers of all shades, and roughs and troops of lewd women, and bullwhackers. Almost every other house is a drinking saloon, gambling house, restaurant or bawdy.” -Reverend Joseph W. Cook of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, noted upon his arrival in 1868.

The Wild West was a term always loosely thrown around from the western mining, railroad, and ranch towns strewn throughout the area. The term Hell On Wheels towns is a nickname given by a east coast journalist, Samuel Bowles, depicting worker’s towns made up of such vices as gambling, prostitution, and murder among all else.

The wildest roughs from all parts of the country are congregated here, as one may see by glancing into numerouse dance-houses and gambling hells — men who carry on the trade of robbery openly, and would not scruple to kill a man for ten dollars. This class is decidedly in the majority, and they have carried matters with a high hand for sometime past. Strangers are beset and robbed, and honest traders leaving the city with their mule teams are often waylaid and rendered penniless at a moment’s warning.” – Jim Chisholm for the Chicago Tribune, described Cheyenne.

Wyoming Tales And Trails is a great source of photos, stories, and overall history of the Western Expansion. It has more photographs than WordPress could handle, including more disturbing ones of hangings and other acts of reprisal. The stories and evidence of the railroads, oil fields, and mines of the west are endless. Overall, a great look into the history of the west.

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2 Responses to Hell On Wheels

  1. M.Lane says:

    This is fabulous! What a great post! I’m catching up on your latest and all are so interesting…as ever.


  2. drinkinanddronin says:

    Thanks very much! I had a feeling some people would like it.

    History has always been something I’ve always been deeply immersed in, and this was one instance I couldn’t let slip by without a mention at least! I’m looking to do more historical pieces in the future.

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