The Real Wild West: A Photographic Exploration of its Untold Stories

June 7, 2024

Last Portrait Taken Of General George Armstrong Custer

History books tell us a simple story about the old west. There are tales of cowboys, Native Americans, and law west of the Pecos... but it's not the whole story. These beautifully colorized photos tell the real story about the wild west.

These snapshots of gunslingers, lawmen, and '49ers on the search for gold will show you what the history books never could. Look closer... in each photo you'll find an entire life story full of ups and downs.

Each rare, colorized photo collected here has the ability to transport you back to one of the most beloved eras of America... when the west was still being won. Keep searching and discover the true story of the old west.

(The Old West In Living Color)

Born in Ohio in 1839 and graduated from West Point in 1861, George Armstrong Custer quickly distinguished himself as a fearless leader during the Civil War, rising to the rank of brigadier general at the age of 23. After the war, Custer served on the western frontier, where he earned a reputation as a fierce and daring fighter. Custer is perhaps best known for his final battle at Little Bighorn, where he and his troops were overwhelmed by a force of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. The battle, also known as Custer's Last Stand, has become a symbol of the conflict between Native Americans and the U.S. government.

Wild Bill Hickok before he was caught with a "deadman's hand"

source: wikimedia commons

The world knows him as "Wild Bill" Hickok, but he was born James Butler Hickok in 1837. In his short life (he didn't live to see 40-years-old) he was everything from an entertainer, to an infantryman, and a gunslinger - although he was known to add a little spice to his personal history from time to time. However, the strangest thing about Wild Bill is that most of his stories were true.

Wild Bill was shot during a game of poker in Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. At his time of death he was holding two pairs: aces and eights, all black. That hand soon became known as the "dead man's hand."