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

May 24, 2024

A King Of The Plains, Circa 1898

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.


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.

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."