In the American Old West, a saloon designates a café or hotel. The first was established in 1822 at Brown’s Hole, Wyoming, between Colorado and Utah, to serve trappers during the harsh fur season. The popularity of these establishments is attested by the fact that even a city of 3,000 inhabitants, such as Livingston (Montana), recorded up to 33 saloons in 1883.
Who goes to the saloon? Cowboys to negotiate cattle, drink alcohol, play poker… There are trappers, travelers, gold diggers, soldiers, lawyers, railwaymen … The myth of the smoky saloon was born. Many saloons welcome their clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are often accused of being propitious to scenes of “general fights”, or pistol duels that end in shootings in the street or public hangings.
Take a look at these rare photos to see what real cowboys at saloons looked like in the 19th and early years of 20th centuries.