The Movie Waffler 15 Amazing True Facts About The Real Wild West | The Movie Waffler

15 Amazing True Facts About The Real Wild West

The recent western revival continues with the release of The Timber on DVD May 2nd. Here's a look at some of the facts behind the legends.

The Timber is an action-packed new Western starring Josh Peck (Red Dawn) James Ransone (Sinister, The Wire) and Julian Glover (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back). Set during the 1898 gold rush of the Old West, it follows two brothers who take a job as bounty hunters to save their family home and track down their father. Things naturally go wrong...

To celebrate the release of The Timber we get under the skin of this turbulent era of American history with 15 fascinating facts of the Old West.

1. The "Wild West" was considered to be geographically West of the Mississippi River during the early part of the 19th century. It lasted until the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920.

2. Incredibly, it's estimated that there were as many as 100 million Native Americans inhabiting the North American continent before European settlement. This included up to 250 tribes who spoke around 300 different languages.

3. As we know, the drive West was by no means peaceful. Settlers ultimately forced their way to the Pacific Coast by driving the Native Americans from their lands. The ongoing tensions between natives and settlers finally resulted in the Indian Wars, which included Custer's last stand.

4. Although a devastating plague wiped out an incredible 90% of the population before the pilgrims arrived, at least a million natives still remained. But as more people showed up, any chance of recovering from that super-plague was swept away on a tide of smallpox, other diseases and genocide.

5. Interestingly, the indigenous people were repulsed by the stench of the new settlers due to a general lack of hygiene compounded by irregular access to clean water. The Native Americans had adapted to the rough conditions of the land and most of them washed on a regular basis.

6. Water became a huge issue for trail weary travellers as they were ill prepared for the long, hot and arduous journey across the plains. Clever businessmen from California took barrels of water Westward to sell to the thirsty settlers. It was not unusual for a cup of water to sell for one dollar, five dollars or even up to one hundred dollars.

7. Invented in 1836 by Samuel Colt, the revolver became a key weapon that dramatically increased the firepower available at the time. The revolutionary design used a revolving barrel loaded with six bullets which could be fired in rapid succession, hence ‘six-shooter’. Before Colt's invention, each bullet had to be loaded and fired separately.

8. And everyone had a gun, right? Actually, back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries gun laws were a lot stricter than they are today. As towns and cities began to pop up throughout the Western territories, law enforcement officials generally prohibited the carrying of any firearm.

9. Indeed, the famous 'Gunfight at the OK Corral' started ironically because Wyatt Earp was trying to enforce the strict 'Keep your guns off the streets' law.

10. Things were fairly rowdy however. The Sheriff - whose only real authority was often the strength of his own personality and his ability to gain popular support - had a tough time trying to maintain law and order as drunk workers poured out of the saloons.

11. Back in 1837, Samuel Morse had invented his famous 'electrical telegraph' which tapped out long and short electrical signals and came to be known as Morse Code. Once the cable infrastructure was in place the new 'telegrams' soon took over from the old Pony Express riders that previously delivered mail across the wide country on horseback.

12. In 1848 the discovery of gold led to a huge "rush" of people heading West across the continent towards California. Driven by the desire for easy money, almost 175,000 crossed from East to the West to prospect for riches.

13. Other big changes happened quickly thanks to the advent of the railroads. Suddenly people, livestock, fuel and goods of all kinds could be transported easily across vast distances. The first railroad to cross the continent from east to West was built between 1863 and 1869, stretching from Midwestern Iowa to California.

14. Shortly after this in 1874, Joseph Glidden received a patent for his invention of barbed wire. This changed farming in the Wild West, and indeed fencing across the world before long.

15. An important but often overlooked element of Old West Americana was the later popularity of the Wild West Show. The infamous Buffalo Bill created a show that included a rodeo and sharpshooting with popular shooters like Annie Oakley. These shows started the romanticisation of both the Old West and Outlaws that we still see today in popular culture.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment Releases The Timber on DVD & Digital HD May 2nd, 2016

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