Old Photos From The Wild West

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Certain images come to mind when we think about the “Wild West”. From tales of cowboys fighting Indians to grand adventures of saloons. However, most of that information about that period in history mostly came from what we’ve seen on TV and movies.

Certainly, there may have been some truth in those stories but nothing can compare to the real photographic documentation of that era. So if you think you knew everything about Wild West, think twice! Here is a selection of the rarest photos that show you the real side of the Old West.


The Real Texas Rangers

The Rangers were formed in 1823 with the purpose of defending Texas after the Mexican War of Independence. They became the Wild West’s most infamous lawmen, killing many notorious outlaws, including the bank robber Sam Bass.

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Charley Nebo

Charley Nebo (on the left) came from his Canada to the US in 1861. He fought for the Union during the Civil War but later he went to New Mexico to become a cowboy. He was respected and feared in the West, he once killed a man after seeing him killing a dog that belonged to a boy. Besides, he was even friend of Billy the Kid.

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The Rufus Buck Gang

Unlike most criminal bands in the Wild West, the Rufus Buck Gang was formed by Creek Indian and African American outlaws. Eventually, they were hanged for assaulting stores in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

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Rose Dunn

Also known as “Rose of Cimarron,” she fell in love with the bandit George “Bittercreek” Newcomb when she was 14 or 15. But two years later, Newcomb was killed by her two brothers, who ironically were both bounty hunters.

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Death Valley

In this photo, we can see how gold hunters are traveling through the dangerous hot Death Valley in 1849 to arrive in California during the gold rush. Many died in that desert trying to reach California.

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Quanah Parker

Quanah Parker was a Chief of the Comanche tribe who was known for his bravery and aggressiveness in combat which helped him to become a leader at a young age.


Dispossessed Navajo People

This photo was taken near Fort Defiance, New Mexico in 1873. These people from the Navajo tribe were some of the many who were dispossessed of their lands during the deceptive “Long Walk.”



The Navajo

Most members of the Navajo tribe traveled through Arizona’s Canyon Chelly during the infamous “Long Walk” in 1864. Over 9,000 Navajos were forced to walk 300 miles to a relocation area in New Mexico.


Belle Starr

Belle Starr was a notorious female outlaw who was related to dangerous criminals like Jesse James. She began bootlegging, rustling, and stealing horses after got married to Sam Starr (a Cherokee man) in 1880. She even spent some time in jail but she was killed in 1889.


Olive Oatman

Olive’s family was killed by a group of Mojave Indians when she was a young girl. She and her sister were taken as slaves by the tribe which taught them their customs. Eventually, she would rejoin European Americans but the tattoo that she carried was for marked her as a slave.


Armed Escorts

This photo was taken around 1900 and portrays how wealthy people were escorted by armed horsemen through the treacherous roads of Sierra Nevada.


A Wolf Captured By Cowboys

Predators like bears, wolves, and mountain lions regularly killed the precious cattle, so it was a big accomplishment when these cowboys captured a gray wolf in Wyoming in 1887.


The Darkroom Wagon of Timothy H. O’Sullivan

Timothy H. O’Sullivan was one of the most important photographers of the Wild West. This rare photo shows how Mr. O’Sullivan traveled with his mobile darkroom carried by four mules through the treacherous Carson Sink in Nevada.


The Paiute Tribe

This photo of some members of the Paiute tribe was taken in 1872, 12 years after Paiute War which they were almost wiped out by U.S settlers and cowboys.


Ned Christie

Ned Christie was a Cherokee political figure who fought U.S. lawmen in a series of legal conflicts which earned the title of “Ned Christie’s War.” Many states that the accusation that he killed a Marshall in 1887 was fabricated. In consequence, his house was burned down by law enforcement officials 1889. Eventually, he was killed in 1892.


Spotted Elk

Spotted Elk (also known as Big Foot) was a Lakota Sioux chief that was killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. A total of 152 Native Americans (including women and children) were killed by Union soldiers that tragic day.

“Bloody Bill” Anderson

William T. Anderson earned his nickname of “Bloody Bill” due to his violent tendencies during the American Civil War. He even was the leader of a group of Confederate guerrillas which captured a train full of Union soldiers, killing 24 of them in Centralia, Missouri, in 1864. His reason? To avenge his sister’s death, who passed away while she was under the Union’s custody.

The Dalton Gang

The three Dalton brothers decided to become bandits and trains robbers after they didn’t receive a payment for a job. They managed to do a good job until a bank robbery gone wrong in Kansas in 1892. Bob and Grat Dalton were killed in the act while Emmet (who received 23 bullets) survived but spend his next 14 years in jail.

Cowboys Bathing

Due to the circumstances of their lifestyles and the long cattle drives to watch, it was very difficult for cowboys to get a free time to relax and take a bath.

The Cow Boy

This pic portrays the former miner John C.H. Grabill who was titled “The Cow Boy.” He is considered one the most realistic images of an authentic cowboy.


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