In the days of Lewis and Clark the Old West was the name of a place that encompassed the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi, that was drained by the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. It was the settling-place of the first emigrants who left the Eastern Seaboard in search of virgin farmland. It was the land of frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone.
By the turn of the 20th century the same expression denoted a state of mind more than a place. It embraced the space between the Mississippi and the Rockies, from the Canadian border to Mexico. It was populated by mountain men, gunslingers, cowboys, Indians, and a few settlers who arrived in ox-drawn prairie schooners before the railroads steamed in. Also called the Wild West, its realm was largely the construct of story-tellers such as Ned Buntline and painters and sculptors of the likes of Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, and Edgar S. Paxson.
These pages are funded in part by a grant from the Montana Cultural Trust.