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4 Places to Discover the Old West

by Teresa Bitler

Oct 3, 2019

Teresa Bitler

Listicles

If you or a loved one has ever dreamed of herding cattle across the open plains or facing down bad guys in a lawless town, treat your family to a Western adventure. Several historic destinations celebrate the Old West with reenactments, stagecoach rides, rodeos and other family-friendly activities.

 

Tombstone

Infamous for the shootout at the O.K. Corral, this Southern Arizona mining town retains its Old West feel with wooden boardwalks, dusty streets and original buildings like the Birdcage Theater, now a museum. Don’t miss the O.K. Corral, where you can watch a reenactment of the gunfight and visit the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper.

 

Old West Poker Table. Photo: Teresa Bitler

 

Want to really experience the Old West? Take a stagecoach ride through town. Then, head to the Good Enough Mine. On the mine tour, you’ll enter one of the area’s first mines and learn about the silver mining industry that made Tombstone rich. Round out your visit with a stop at Old Tombstone Western Theme Park to pan for gold, take aim in the shooting gallery and watch the daily gunfight shows. The park also offers a half-hour trolley tour through Tombstone and Boothill Graveyard.

 

Deadwood

Another notorious Western town, Deadwood comes to life with shootouts, traveling medicine shows and the capture of Jack McCall in front of Saloon No. 10, where he killed Wild Bill Hickok. For a schedule of the Main Street reenactments or to watch McCall’s trial, visit the Deadwood Alive website.

 

Old West Gunfight. Photo: Teresa Bitler

Some of the biggest names in Western lore passed through Deadwood. The Adams Museum showcases the personal belongings of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and others while its affiliate, Days of ’76, houses more than 50 historic wagons, carriages and stagecoaches. For a change of pace, tour the Broken Boot Gold Mine or pay your respects to Hickock at Mount Moriah Cemetery.

 

Dodge City

With a rail line that could ship cattle east, Dodge City, Kansas, became one of the major endpoints on the Western Cattle Trail. Experience what the cowboys might have when they arrived in Dodge City roughly 150 years ago at the Boot Hill Museum. Stroll down the boardwalk, order a sarsaparilla at the bar, get a can-can lesson or watch re-enactors gunfight on what was originally the site of Boot Hill Cemetery.

 

Nearby, the Gunfighters Wax Museum shares space with the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame. Visit the wax museum to see the likenesses of Wyatt Earp, Sitting Bull, Jesse James and others.

 

Fort Worth

The last stop for supplies on the Chisolm Trail before crossing into Indian Territory, historic Fort Worth earned the nickname “Cowtown.” Learn about the industry at the Stockyards Museum, Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame or National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Then, stake your space to watch one of the two daily cattle drives at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. along East Exchange Avenue.

 

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, parents and kids can practice roping, learn how to saddle a horse, hear chuckwagon stories and more for free behind the Livestock Exchange Building. Or, purchase tickets for the daily rodeos held year-round at Cowtown Coliseum or Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show every day at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.

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