These authentic vintage photographs of the American frontier reveal what life was actually like in the “Wild West.”
The American frontier holds a mythic space in our imaginations. And because of that, it’s a place we envision more through the stories of the Wild West than through its actual history.
The real American frontier wasn’t always as dramatic as it’s made out to be in films, but it was a dangerous place, an untamed land. The settlers who traveled out West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had to live in defiance of nature and the elements without the comforts of civilization.
Whole families would gather together in wagons and ride off into the unknown, sometimes spending months living in the carriages that pulled them westward. Men, women, and children alike would endure as they crossed over mountains, across rivers, and through deserts in search of a new home and a better life.
When they arrived, they lived in houses built with their own two hands. They had to fend for water and food on their own and set up the very infrastructures of their new towns. Some made their way by working on ranches and farms, others by trapping and trading fur, and some by toiling deep in the mines of the new American frontier.
Life was full of dangers. Sandstorms, tornados, and hurricanes plagued their ramshackle homes. The natives of the land fought to keep it their own. And when lawlessness rose its head, men had to take justice into their own hands.
The Wild West has become a legend, but the real world of the American frontier played out just a short time ago. It’s recent enough that we even have photographs of the families that traveled out and they lives they made, little glimpses into life in the real Wild West.