Understanding and appreciating life in the Old West requires passion, not just a knowledge of the facts. I was reminded of that today by one of our site visitors. I got the message through this site’s feedback form. I wasn’t quite sure whether he was being serious or sarcastic (I’ll get into that further along.) Here’s what the person who left the comment had to say:
“Do you know of any good websites where I can find updated blogs and popular websites that cover the Old West with a passion?”
Unfortunately, the person who sent that comment failed to include an email address, so I have no way to respond directly. But then I thought about the message and began to wish this person had left the message as a comment so that all could read it.
So the next best way I know to respond is by writing this short article, and in the process stating some really important facts — among them the notion that life in the Old West was and IS far more than dry facts, dates, or glimpses of famous character’s lives. Here goes:
First, I need to mention that I’m a guy who has real passion for the Old West, and I’ve tried to convey through the articles on this site how special the time period and geography of the Old West has been a lifelong “passion” of mine. But maybe I’ve missed the boat here.
I grew up as a poor kid in a small town in southeastern Nebraska with my boyhood “heroes” named Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Gary Cooper (“High Noon” still is the best!), the Range Rider, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, Black Kettle, Wyatt Earp, Matt Dillon, Festus, and many others whose fictional lives and real lives were a broad mix of heroic and villainous. But unfortunately, I’ve always been something of an egghead. Too “bookish,” and not active enough, always, I suppose. (But one of my proudest possessions as a kid was a photo my parents had taken of me actually sitting on Smiley Burnett’s lap when he performed in a slightly larger small Nebraska town near us.)
So perhaps I’ve not conveyed enough of the passion because I’ve tried to be too “historical” and tried to look in depth at the people and events who created the Old West. But I trust at least some of you have caught the passion behind the intellectual “eggheadish-ness” of my writing.
I’ll take any licks I deserve for that character flaw. And I truly hope most of you have shared in the fun and passion of these great people, places, and times that shaped America into what we have today.
Secondly, I want to make a stab at referring the note’s writer to other sites that I visit from time to time and that I think are helpful. I have, actually, mentioned some sites if you’ll read around my site a bit. Maybe these more organized links and summary comments will be helpful:
1. Legends of America — I mentioned this site in an earlier article here. As I said in that article, I’m not well acquainted with the site, and I still don’t know who owns and runs it. (If you’ve contacted me, I apologize for having missed your message; my “Contact” form wasn’t working properly for awhile.) But Legends of America is loaded with articles about all sorts of fun people, places, and events related to the Old West. I think there’s a great deal of passion there as well as information. They appear to have been around longer than I, and they offer a wealth of good stuff. Go take a look.
2. Western Fiction Review — I also called attention to this site in an article located here, which I wrote some time back. That site is owned by a gentleman I’ve only known as “Steve M.” Steve actually sent me a message through the “Contact” form (it’s on the “About” page listed at the top of this site, if you want to send feedback) thanking me for the mention of his site and linking back to me. I appreciated that, Steve. Unfortunately, you didn’t give an email address when you sent the feedback, so I couldn’t get back to you.
Steve’s Western Fiction Review grew out of a lifelong passion he’s had for collecting Western fiction, other Western books, and Western memorabilia. I highly recommend his site again — and I encourage you to take a look at his site’s sidebar links to a wonderful collection of other Western websites. In fact, after I finish writing this article, I hope to have a couple of hours this evening just to look over some of those links at Steve’s site. Can’t recommend any site I know of offhand any more than Steve’s Western Fiction Review. (He happens to have a review about “The Ox-Bow Incident,” a book I read waaaayyy back in my high school days. Still one of the best, gritty real-life Western novels you’ll find anywhere.)
The True West website, of course, has a lot of “tease” on it to get you to subscribe to the magazine. The magazine, you see, is how they make their money. But the site itself has a wealth of great photos, great articles, and a good forum under the “Community” tab at the top of the page. I hope you’ll pay them a visit, and I highly recommend a subscription to their magazine. (Oh, yeah. They have an email newsletter you can sign up for, and it’s free.)
4. Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection — I wrote an article about this terrific site not long back, too. Although it’s most useful if you get yourself over to Denver and go to the building, there are still some wonderful online photos of Western history and Old West people. It won’t cost you a thing to go there and spend an afternoon or evening browsing through a terrific picture book of a wide spectrum of life in the Old West! And I believe I mentioned in the previous article about the site that many, many Western writers use original photos and source information from that collection in their books. (With permission and for a fee, of course.)
5. Tales of the Old West — This little website is actually just one of the pages on a larger site called “Dark Canyon.” Whether you go to Tales of the Old West first and then to Dark Canyon, you really should look around the whole thing, especially if you’re a shooter. Lots of interesting stories here and good information about the shooting sports. Go look around and enjoy.
Hope that’ll work for the good visitor who sent me that message asking for sites with passion about the Old West. And I hope the rest of you will enjoy this, too. I know I’ve enjoyed browsing around and sharing the information. In the words of that famous movie/TV cowboy couple, “Happy Trails”!