Photo by isaac berrocal bravo

Anyone who has watched a Western knows about how “wild” life was back then. With cowboys’ cattle were rustled, damsels in distress tied to railroads, and the sheriff was usually a slacker with little interest in enforcing what small law existed.

The Wild West encompassed a wide area stretching from the Rocky “Mountain states like Montana going to Texas and then all across to the West Coast;” as far as a period goes, talking about the pre-Civil War or the 1980s to 1900. It was when the cattle could graze anywhere, and the range was open. Notably, much of this vast terrain was pre-statehood at the time, so there wasn’t much federal oversight. 

Elaborated below are the kind of life settlers of the Wild West experienced. It was hard because of the following scenarios:

Water. Water was the main problem (and still is!): you couldn’t farm, ranch, or even live without a reliable water source, which meant living beside a river or near enough to one that you had a high water table and could dig a dedicated well. A surprising number of the old west’s legal, political, and shooting battles were fought over water rights. The primary industries were (and still are) ranching and mining. Miners, and mining companies, often settled up in the mountains, where there were more water sources than on the “flats” due to the biannual rain/snow storms — but they still had to conserve water. Start with that.

The only power sources were hydraulic (if you were lucky enough to have a strongly-flowing river), steam engines (expensive and require a lot of wood — likewise available only in the mountains), and muscle — human or animal.

The Food. The most common food was meat — wild game or livestock — and occasional fish in the rivers. There were very few places where one could farm fruits, vegetables, or even corn, so fresh produce was at a premium. Flour, dried beans, and canned (“tinned”) food were shipped in — by the railroads (except out on the California coast), which is why the Old Wild West was mostly built by the railroads. The trains also carried locally-raised livestock back to the markets in the east. Railroads were the lifeline.

Medicine/healthcare was either non-existent or primitive. Pioneers living on the American frontier relied on doctors also for medical treatments. Accidents, epidemics, and STDs kept doctors very busy. Unfortunately for patients, most frontier doctors have no degree in medicine. In the Wild West, anyone could profess to be a doctor and promote treatments like applying leeches or drinking sulfur. Sometimes medical treatments are even more dangerous than the conditions they are treating. Frontier doctors prescribed a mercury compound that made a person’s teeth fall out. They performed surgery without anesthesia. One doctor recommended treating patients by bleeding them from the jugular. It’s not surprising, then, that some pioneers revealed frontier doctors were doing satan’s work.

Making money is a gritty yet satisfying system in The Wild West. To obtain that powerful and agile horse or that shiny long-range sniper, you’ll have to work for it.

There are six ways to earn money in The Wild West: Stealing, mining, Hunting, Wood cutting, Bounty Hunting, and joining a Job. All jobs except the Mayor’s job can give the player money in some way. The banks drop less gold in smaller servers, so larger servers are better for pirating, hunting, and mining. Private servers are useless as all money is gained at a heavily reduced rate. To make more cash, you should be on a public server (risk for reward).

Risk plays a massive role in The Wild West, especially with grinding. You’ll have to accept that players can attack you in massive instances and get any plunder you had due to The Wild West’s roguelike nature and content. 

And everything was labor-intensive. Quite simply, people worked hard and didn’t have much energy left over — for crime, quarrels, gun fights, or anything else.

An author named Gerald Brence described in his book, “Ox In The Culvert,” Texas rangers  Ray Andrews and his best friend and fellow ranger, Tom Jerkins, joined a shooting contest in Austin that changed their lives forever.

This book is a historical fiction novel about the true Wild West. The story travels from central Central Texas through the great Southwest and into California. It continues onto Hongkong and then back to San Francisco. The tremendous Western expansion of America was accomplished by both good and bad. It was a time that needed to receive its proper respect. 

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