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

April 19, 2024

Olive Oatman was abducted and sold to the Mohave tribe who gave her a noticeable blue tattoo on her face. 

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.

source: wikimedia commons

After she was kidnapped by an unknown Native American tribe from her homestead in what we now know as Arizona in 1851, Olive Oatman was sold to the Mohave people. She spent five years living with them. During that time they tattooed her face with the blue ink that you can see clearly in the photo.

Oatman was released after half a decade and she immediately returned home. A book was written about her time with the Mohave, and she went on a tour that helped push sales to more than 30,000 copies. After the hubub died down she moved to Sherman, Texas where she became involved with charity work while wearing a veil over her tattoo.

A King Of The Plains, Circa 1898


This fine cowboy is a piece of art first produced for a postcard in the late 1800's. Cowboys like this one have long been a popular subject in art, capturing the imaginations of artists throughout America. One of the earliest depictions of cowboys in art can be found in the work of Frederic Remington, a renowned artist who specialized in capturing the rugged, adventurous spirit of the American West. His iconic sculptures and paintings of cowboys on horseback, often engaged in dangerous activities like roping or hunting, helped to define the image of the cowboy in popular culture. Other notable cowboy artists include Charles M. Russell, who also created realistic portrayals of cowboys and their day-to-day lives, and Georgia O'Keeffe, who took a more abstract approach to capturing the essence of the West.