This Week in Old West History - November 12
CowboySpirit.TV - This week's panned nuggets of old west gold prominently feature a subject not often explored: the aftermath of the OK Corral shootout and its effects on a few of the people who were in it.
1916: The famous American astronomer Percival Lowell, best known for his discredited but wildly popular "Canals of Mars" theory, died on this day. Lowell was an old west pioneer of a different sort: he was among the first to see the value in using Arizona for research work, founding the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff in 1894.
1920: The well-known and popular actor Jack Elam was born on this day, known best for playing a multitude of old west villains. Unlike many actors whose careers faded after the 50s heyday of B-films, Elam transitioned gracefully into playing comedic parodies of his early roles. In 1994, he was inducted into the Hall Of Great Western Performers.
1882: Billy "The Kid" Claiborne (not that Billy The Kid) died on this day in a gunfight. He had previously survived the Gunfight at the OK Corral... by running away. His gunslinger reputation ruined, he ended up picking a drunken fight with "Buckskin" Frank Leslie, with predictably bloody results.
1867: That legendary old west town, Cheyenne, Wyoming, received its first train via the Union Pacific railroad. The resulting boom led Cheyenne to be declared "The Magic City of the Plains" based on how rapidly it expanded from a 4,000-person burg to a bustling trading hub.
1881: On this day, Wyatt Earp took the stand - following more than two weeks in jail - to defend his actions at the OK Corral in a murder trial. In the end, despite some conflicting evidence that Doc Holliday may have been the first to fire, Holliday and the Earps were cleared of all murder charges.
1888: The career of that oddly poetic bandit Black Bart came to an end today as he was sentenced to six years in jail for a series of holdups of Wells-Fargo stages. He was let out after only four years, for good behavior, but he was then too weak to return to his thieving ways.
1880: Modern technology came to Montana on this day, as the first electric lights in the state were turned on at the Alice Mine in Walkerville.