Welcome to Weston County – Where the west stayed wild just a little bit longer.
Mention of the Wild West invokes images of saloons, shootouts, and Indian wars; murder, mayhem, and the iron horse. When the Civil War ended, thousands of pioneers, privateers and prospectors went west, searching the untamed landscape for fresh starts and new lives.
It was a rough existence that grew tougher when the bushwhackers, gamblers, and gunfighters followed.
The ambling migration deposited cow towns, mining camps, and debauchery along the way. Lasting development was slow, and victories were small when they came. In time, churches, hospitals, and schools were built beside the saloons and brothels.
For more than 30 years, from about 1865 to 1890, the Wild West was a tangle of colliding values and lifestyles; blazing six-guns and the hangman’s noose threatened common decency and the rule of law. Fortunes were made; others were lost, and some were just stolen.
Such was the Wild West, and then it was over.
Cowboys say the Wild West collapsed when the Kansas stock yards closed. Calamity Jane would tell you the bad old days ended in 1876 when Jack McCall murdered her darling Bill Hickock in the #10. Or maybe the end came in 1881, when the most famous gunfight of all occurred near the O.K. Corral. Doc Holliday drew his last ragged breath in 1887, and that was it. The Wild West was tamed.
Or was it?
One year after Doc died in bed with his boots off, the Kilpatrick Brothers & Collins Construction Company established a rail town in the Black Hills of Wyoming. The town’s main purpose was to ferry Cambria coal back east for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad.
But that little boomtown loaded more than coal. It packed a wallop, and it wasn’t long before Newcastle, Wyoming rivaled the Wild West legends of Dodge City, Deadwood, and Tombstone.
Wild West Newcastle?! You bet your boots, Wild West Newcastle!
Western Heritage Magazine proudly invites you to follow the Newcastle Legacy Series – a collection of real-life stories and authentic re-enactments that inspire hometown and visitor pride in the Wyoming paradise that we call home. This past year we’ve learned a lot about our history, and we’re eager to share our fresh Wild West discoveries.
This being the 115th anniversary of events that shaped our legacy in the year 1903, we are particularly excited to augment this year’s print edition with true-life re-enactments of those events. We lynched Diamond Slim on May 28th. On July 4th, President Theodore Roosevelt is speaking to the townspeople following our Independence Day parade. Finally, on Halloween, Sheriff Billy Miller saddles-up a posse in pursuit of renegades and poachers. He finds them at the Battle of Lightning Creek.
These and other thrilling tales await you in this edition of Western Heritage. The Newcastle Legacy Series beckons you to the early days of Weston County.
But be careful.
It’s wild out there!
Editor, Western Heritage