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To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

25 old photographs of the Cowboys’ Saloons between the Old West and Alaska.

4 min read

If we think of the old west, we think of a land that the European settlers, coming from Europe or from the already colonized east of the United States, stole from the Native Americans, also killing and slaughtering them.
I think that even we Westerners, we got an idea on the American frontier, thanks to the countless western movies that we have all seen at least once in their lives.
This image, is unimaginable without the saloon!
It was the movies that created the icon of Saloon, Cowboy, Puritan women opposed to prostitutes, Whiskey, hard men and the vast desert expanses between Nevada, California and Texas. Was that really the old West?
This gallery shows some photographs of the Saloon, and inside there are some protagonists of that era.
Among them you can certainly see some cowboys, but also many completely normal people, dressed in no different way from those you could meet in Europe or in the already civilized New York.
Saloons were the dirty pulsing heart of the frontier, especially as the number of pioneers steadily grew.
The first “real saloon” was Wyoming’s Brown’s Saloon, near the border between Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, called Brown’s Hole. It opened in 1822 and served drinks mostly to fur trappers.

Another of the early American frontier saloons was at Bent’s Fort in Colorado, which opened in the latter part of the 1820s. Here, the most regular customers were soldiers.
In California, the Saloon opening followed the gold rush, which began around the end of the 1840s. The community has blossomed and people could opt out at least 30 different local saloons in the area, which refreshed the pioneers and collected the few hard-earned money collected in the mines.

And cowboys were regulars in places such as Kansas’s Dodge City:

Heavy drinking, bickering and brawling, gambling, gunfights and oftentimes, fights concluded outside on the dust-filled streets.
In the Saloons the Whiskey was obviously drunk, often modified with the addition of some tobacco and burnt sugar, and the drink was called in many different ways: Firewater, Dynamite, Redeye, or Bug Juice. The mix between the blackberry liqueur and the whiskey created the Mule Skinner, or you could taste a “Cactus Wine”, which included tequila, tea and peyote. The beer obviously flowed, even if it was all but frozen!

In the Saloons, in addition to drinking, It was possible smoke opium and “eat” or “rest” with one of the professionals present in the room. Saloons frequently accommodated opium hideaways or brothels. In fact, it was an all-men world where women were often not allowed in unless they worked as saloon “entertainers” or “dancers”.
In 1893 the situation was so out of control with fights, shootings and brothels, that the “Anti-Saloon League”, a forerunner prohibitionist organization of the future prohibitionism of the 1920s and 30s, was established. The Saloon era was almost over, but the icon they left for posterity and we all known, is very far from being forgotten!

A saloon, telegraph office, and wooden water tower along the dirt road of an old American western town.

Real Wild West Cowboy Town:

Men gathered for a drink in the Road House Saloon, Bluff City, Alaska, ca. 1906:

Muddy street scene, Skagway, Alaska, October 1897, during the Klondike Gold Rush:

Pozo, California in the 1870s. The Pozo Saloon, which is still in business, is on the right. Built in 1858:

Second Class Saloon, Nome, Alska, July 1, 1901:

The Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Built in c.1860:

The Bob Saloon in Miles City, Montana, 1880:

Gambling at the Orient Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona, c.1900:

Interior of the Toll Gate Saloon in 1897 Black Hawk, Colorado:

Men gathered for a drink in the Road House Saloon, Bluff City, Alaska, ca. 1906:

Saloon (left) in Shakespeare, New Mexico. Built c.1880:

Saloon at Ehrenberg, Arizona in 1911:

The Arcade Saloon in 1898 Eldora, Colorado:

The Bar Room in 1885 Charleston, Arizona:

The Crystal Palace Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona Territory in 1885:

The Discovery Saloon in Nome, Alaska. Built in 1901:

The Jersey Lilly, Judge Roy Bean’s saloon in Langtry, Texas, c. 1900:

The Klondyke Dance Hall & Saloon in 1909 Seattle, Washington:

The Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas. Built c.1874:

The Northern, Wyatt Earp’s saloon in Tonopah, Nevada, c.1902. The woman on horseback on the left may be Josie Earp:

Interior of Table Bluff Hotel and Saloon in Table Bluff, Humboldt County, California, 1889:

The Shamrock Saloon in 1905 Hazen, Nevada:

Source: The Vintage News.com.
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