A Brief History of America’s Wild West

The Wild West that existed from 1865 to 1895 was dubbed “wild” because the land west of the Mississippi River was still in the process of being settled. It was quite literally lawless, making it the perfect setting for stories featuring cowboys, Native Americans, and infamous figures like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and Frank and Jesse James. When we think of the Wild West, we think of train robberies, gun duels at sunset in small one horse towns, and events like those which took place at the O. K. Corral. The list of historical places to visit in the Old West is a long one, but here’s a brief summary.

Dodge City, Kansas is famous for Fort Mann, built to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Tombstone, Arizona is where the legendary gunfight at the O. K. Corral took place. Then there is Cody, Wyoming, named after “Buffalo Bill” Cody. It’s full of historical museums and is the self-titled “Rodeo Capital of the World.” Virginia City, Nevada even looks like something out of the historical old west. Here you can visit museums, take a look at the old silver mine, or just wander down main street and take in the sights.

historical places to visit

Deadwood, South Dakota just sounds like something out of the American West. It’s full of history. Wild Bill Hickok was even shot in Deadwood. Fort Smith, Arkansas was named the #1 “Top True Western Town” by True West Magazine in 2013, and it’s famous for being the inspiration behind True Grit. The Hanging Judge, Isaac Parker, sent criminals to be hung at gallows that still stand in Downtown Fort Smith.

The American Old West is a dotted map of endless historical sights and possible adventures. To choose just one place to visit and in which to learn is a difficult task indeed.