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Unread 06-09-2011, 04:37 PM
18,572 posts, read 10,011,443 times
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Had many a "Wild" time at the Black Bart Inn in the 1980's
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Unread 06-09-2011, 06:31 PM
Location: Earth
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Originally Posted by rah View Post
During the gold rush days, SF was basically the epitome of "wild west". It was a frontier town, as far west as you could possibly go, with a population that had exploded by tens of thousands in just a few years. What "police force" existed back then had no way of dealing with this massive surge in population and crime. Mobs of vigilantes had to go through the city a few times and kill/clear out all criminals they could find (the "vigilance committees", which have been mentioned in other posts), and a couple ships were even turned into floating prisons. Men were often "shanghai'd", meaning they were drugged and kidnapped, and forced into service on a ship...which often ended up in Shanghai at some point. It was a pretty diverse place by the standards of the 1800's, as mobs of people arrived who were looking to make a fortune, many of them coming from China, Chile, Australia, and Mexico, as far as i know. During the early days of the Gold Rush, the SF region--with a population of no more than maybe 100,000 or so--was seeing around 1,000 murders per year. During that time there was at least one murder in SF itself on most days. Most women in SF back then were prostitutes as well, and SF was also largely destroyed multiple times by fires even before the 1906 earthquake. It was definitely a pretty "wild" place for a certain amount of time.
All of this is very true.

SF was more diverse in 1850 than it is TODAY, let alone by the standards of the time.

One didn't need to be an actual criminal to be the target of the vigilantes ; quite a few innocents got killed.

Shanghai-ing was common in most West Coast port cities.

Herbert Astbury's book "The Barbary Coast" is a great look at the criminal history of San Francisco from the Gold Rush through the beginning of Prohibition. It is in the public domain and available online. Astbury, who specialized in lurid popular histories, also wrote "The Gangs of New York" (which very loosely inspired the film, made about 75 years after the book came out) and "The French Quarter" (about New Orleans). I highly recommend "The Barbary Coast".

An interesting bit of trivia: the Mormons, when they sought to move west to escape persecution after the death of Joseph Smith, almost moved to what is now the Financial District of The City instead of Utah!
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Unread 06-09-2011, 08:16 PM
Location: In them thar hills
7,617 posts, read 8,390,302 times
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Originally Posted by StandingLenticular View Post
Places that I've visited that have that kind of spirit include:
Modoc County, The Motherlode Region, and Owens Valley
Western San Mateo County, Eastern Santa Clara County, Northwestern Marin County.
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Unread 06-09-2011, 08:22 PM
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Along with James Earp buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Morgan Earp is buried at Hermosa Gardens Cemetery in Colton, and Wyatt Earp is buried at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma. Their parents, also buried in California, settled in Colton for several years, and Virgil Earp was Colton's first Marshall. Some info here, with photo of Morgan Earp's headstone: InlandMemorial.com

Holcomb Valley near Big Bear Lake was the site of the largest gold rush in Southern California in 1860. "Along with the gold rush and those out for an honest fast buck, came the outlaws and thieves. There were 50 murders in Holcomb Valley in just two years time from when gold was discovered." You can drive around and do a tour of historical sights there, here is a link to the tour: Big Bear Lake- Information, photos, lodging, activities and more.

And there were cowboys too. The Morongo Basin, home of Yucca Valley and 29 Palms, was also a cattle ranching area in the late 1800s, up until the late 1940s. My uncle was a cowboy and worked on a ranch there after WW2. They drove the cattle up Pipes Canyon Road to Big Bear during the summer - my aunt followed behind in the "cook" truck and cooked for the camp. Some info: Our History

Bodie, mentioned above, is to me (besides a fantastic ghost town) a great example of what the wild west was about. "In 1859 William (a.k.a. Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow. It started with about 20 miners and grew to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880! By then, the town of Bodie bustled with families, robbers, miners, store owners, gunfighters, prostitutes and people from every country in the world. At one time there was reported to be 65 saloons in town. Among the saloons were numerous brothels and 'houses of ill repute', gambling halls and opium dens - an entertainment outlet for everyone." Bodie.com : Bodie State Historic Park, Bodie SHP, Bodie State Park - Bodie.com
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