During the second half of the 19th century, western USA (which was considered any area west of the Mississippi River) became a major center of growth for American colonizers. Cowboys and their cattle, horses and the small towns that revolved around them were the trademarks of the Wild West. This expansion led to the unification of the American independent states, making the USA what it really is today.
With the introduction of homesteading and pioneering, people began gravitating towards the western region looking for opportunities. The possibility of being a part of an entirely new venture attracted businessmen and scouts, outlaws and lawmen, and anybody else seeking the chance to make their fortune and explore somewhere different. The legends of the outlaws have survived the most and Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Curly Bill, as well as the lawmen that curtailed them including Wild Bill Hickok, Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp remain household names.
The Wild West Show
People will always have a desire to be entertained, and in order to facilitate this need among the cowboys the Wild West Show was created by Buffalo Bill and consisted of rodeos and sharpshooting competitions. One of the show’s most famous sharpshooters was Annie Oakley, who attracted many patrons and has been featured in books and films about the period.
The Pony Express
Whenever the population enters new territory, there is always the need to maintain communication with family, friends and business associates in other areas. The Pony Express was the first solution to the distribution of mail along the western route. It consisted of men on horseback with saddlebags that would make the journey along the 2000 mile trail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, with the first trip on April 3, 1860. The riders were able to cover up to 250 miles per day, and even though the Pony Express only last for 19 months, they were very efficient losing only one mail delivery during the entire period.
The Invention of Barbed Wire
Barbed wire is currently used everywhere for many types of fencing as well as other purposes. It was invented by Joseph Glidden who received a patent in 1874, in order to be able to fence cattle in, or out, of various properties. This revolutionized ranching and farmers were now able to ensure the safety of their livestock. An invention that still remains useful to this day!