Founding of towns and cities naturally followed on the heels of the pioneers and settlers. Even the bravest Mountain Men listening to the call of the wild coming to them from the mountains and valleys of the West knew their explorations would ultimately mean an influx of people — leading to the founding of towns and cities. (One of the greatest Mountain Men, Jedidiah Smith, started his life of wilderness exploration as part of a money-making endeavor. Other early pioneers were driven by Gold Rushes that often led to new towns springing up.) Certainly the founding of towns stretched the limits of acceptability for most of the Mountain Men, but town life also was often very different from the lifestyle of ranchers and farmers. You’ll find links to articles below in our growing “Western Towns and Cities” category which will focus on the cultural clashes and sometimes open violence that grew in the West as the railroads expanded, shaping settlements into towns and cities.
From the fabled “medicine show” to actors to circuses — entertainers and entertainment advanced westward as settlements and towns grew up throughout the Old West. It’s surprising to see how widespread and important this part of westward expansion really was. So many stereotypes like gunfights, cattle ranching, town marshals, covered wagons, railroad expansion, etc., make up what we all think of as the Old West. But we forget that people who settled on the Great Plains and throughout the mountains and valleys of the Western two-thirds of our country were folks who brought with them many of the same desires for entertainment and for “culture” that they had when they lived back East in more settled lands.