Take a rip-roaring road trip through Old West history and explore where some of the most legendary figures in Western lore made their names. Inspired by The Summer of 1876 by Chris Wimmer.Less
The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site of the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, which took place on June 25 and June 26 of 1876.
“The continuous roar of gunfire rolled over the ridges to Custer. Whether or not Custer consciously realized it, his last chance for victory was gone. Now, the Battle of the Little Bighorn was about to become a desperate, brutal fight for survival.”
This site commemorates The Battle of the Rosebud, also known as “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother” by the Northern Cheyenne, which took place on June 17, 1876 and was the preamble to The Battle of the Little Bighorn.
“There was no coordinated plan. The Lakota and Cheyenne simply swarmed the area. It was a maelstrom of roaring guns, thundering hooves, and shrieking men and animals. The Battle of the Rosebud surged back and forth.”
Sheridan is the closest city to the Rosebud and Little Bighorn Battlefields. It initially began as a basecamp for one of the main cavalry columns on the 1876 campaign and then grew into a small city.
“The same day Custer’s left wing started its march toward the Yellowstone, General George Crook’s column established Camp Cloud Peak on Goose Creek in northern Wyoming Territory. The base camp was near the present-day city of Sheridan, WY, and just a few miles short of the Montana border.”
Established in 1907, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is the oldest state park in North Dakota. The park contains reconstructed military buildings including the Custer House.
“Custer’s 7th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Lincoln, south of Bismarck, North Dakota. Bismarck is just 150 miles from the Canadian border. In February, the blizzards and subzero temperatures made travel impossible, which was the predominant reason why an extensive winter campaign had never been attempted.”
Constructed in 1930, the Adams Museum in Deadwood was built to preserve and display the rich, and often violent, history of the Black Hills.
“In Deadwood, miners swarmed the crude saloons on the single muddy street that ran through the gulch. They were dirty and wild, like many of the cowboys in Dodge, but a major difference between the two scenes was that there was no law in Deadwood. And there were many who planned to take full advantage of the lack of authority.”
Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood is the burial place of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and other notable figures of the Wild West.
“James Butler Hickok was larger than life, a legend in his own time, and yet somehow killed in a dingy saloon by a no-account drifter with crossed eyes and a crooked nose. Hickok was buried in Deadwood’s original cemetery beneath a headstone that was commissioned by Charlie Utter.”
After over 16 years of living life as an outlaw, Jesse James was shot and killed by Bob Ford at the age of 34. The Jesse James Home is a museum dedicated to the life and death of the infamous outlaw.
“Jesse James was America’s first outlaw celebrity. The publication of dime novels brought fanciful tales of these men, and many others, to the masses. The novels turned the men into heroes, even if their real-life actions were the opposite of heroic, as in the case of Jesse James.”
On September 7, 1876, Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang attempted to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, MN. Today, the Northfield Historical Society maintains the building, which features an exhibit recounting the story of the brave citizens who fought the James-Younger Gang.
“Jesse, Frank, and Bob Younger emerged from the bank. They ran out into a firestorm. Bullets and shotgun pellets flew in all directions. Windows shattered. Wood splintered. Stone crumbled.”
The Boot Hill Museum is an institution dedicated to preserving the history of the Old West with a particular emphasis on the most violent and turbulent town in the West, Dodge City.
“As the summer of 1876 approached, Dodge City was stocked with lawmen for the first time. Wyatt [Earp] instructed his men to wear two guns. He stashed loaded shotguns in secret hiding places around town...the new lawmen were ready to test their mettle against a swarm of thirsty cowboys.”