The First Great Hub of the Northern Plains

Frontier Towns, Part 6: Fort Laramie, Wyoming

Don’t confuse Fort Laramie with the much larger university city of Laramie – they are 105 miles and world’s apart. Fort Laramie is a small Northern Plains town of approximately 230 residents located close to Fort Laramie National Historic Site. It is also Wyoming’s first permanent settlement. The shared importance of this enduring small town and the nearby fort to westward seeking travelers of the mid-19th century cannot begin to be understated. For several decades, they were the principal commercial, transportation, and military hub of the entire region.

Before there were any other places even remotely close modern civilization west of the Missouri River, there was lonely Fort Laramie, set near the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers in the eastern part of the future state of Wyoming. The fort and nearby town of the same name were the only significant supply option available to trappers, emigrant wagon trains, mountain men, soldiers, and Native Americans for many years. The fort was also the primary source of protection for hundreds of miles in all directions. Being situated along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail, and later the Pony Express Trail, Fort Laramie was a welcome sight after days and/or weeks of rugged travel across the Great Plains.


Founded originally as a private fur trading post named Fort William in 1834, the facility was renamed Fort St. John in 1841. The fort was again renamed Fort Laramie after it was acquired by the federal government in 1849 to secure protection and assistance to the tens of thousands of emigrants seeking their fortunes and futures in the American west and to serve as a military staging area for the United States Cavalry.


Two historic events in the relations between the United States and the Native American Indian tribes of the Northern Plains occurred at or near Fort Laramie. The Horse Creek Treaty of 1851 sought lasting peace between all the warring tribes of the region and safe passage for settlers headed towards California, Oregon, and Utah. Both of which were noble goals.

On their part, a great council pf more than 10,000 Native Americans from many tribes, some mortal enemies, traveled to and camped in the general vicinity of Fort Laramie* for the completion and signing of this treaty. Unfortunately, the American participants either didn’t understand or didn’t take the time to understand importance of tribal hierarchies and inter-tribal relationships. Furthermore, Congress unilaterally reneged on important parts of the treaty almost immediately. Within four years, the agreement had begun to fall apart, and did so completely by 1864.

*Due to the large attendance, the treaty site was moved several miles to the east of Fort Laramie where Horse Creek empties into the North Platte.

The second document was the Treaty of Fort Laramie (a.k.a. the Sioux Treaty). This agreement sought to set aside lands for the varied Sioux bands and assure their sole ownership of the sacred Black Hills. But, as with all of the treaties the United States made with the Native Americans, we as a country never lived up to our end of the bargain. Illicit actions by the American military under General George Armstrong Custer, combined with the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, concluded with the United States once again reneging on its formal agreement. Even today, the Sioux nation is demanding all its territories that were taken by the United States, especially resulting from the Black Hills Gold Rush, be returned to them immediately.

Fort Laramie’s preeminence as a trading center hub for the Northern Plains was only eclipsed when the Transcontinental Railroad and cross-country telegraph lines utilized a more southerly route in the late 1860s. It remained an important and strategic military post until its eventual closure and auction in 1890. In 1938, Fort Laramie was acquired again by the federal government, but this time as an important part of the National Park System. For anyone even remotely interested in the history of the Old West, Fort Laramie National Historic Site is a necessary stop on the travel itinerary.


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Two Towns and Two Death Tales of Billy the Kid


Frontier Towns, Chapter 5: Fort Sumner, New Mexico and Hico, Texas

Normally, I am skeptical of conspiracy theories. But, I also realize that history tends to be written by the victors. With that, the victors can and will tend to paint themselves in a better light than their opponents. New Mexico’s deadly Lincoln County War of 1878, was fought between rival business and ranching factions and Billy the Kid ended up on the losing side of the fight – a fight the reached all the way to Washington, D.C. where the President had to remove the then sitting Territorial Governor of New Mexico.


Like most everyone else who is fairly familiar with Old West history, my understanding, until recently, was that the life story of Billy the Kid came to a violent end on July 14, 1881, in the High Plains town of Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Gunned down by Pat Garrett, Billy died and was buried the following day in Fort Sumner. His grave site is a key tourist attraction there, yet today.

Billy the Kid’s grave site in Fort Sumner, NM – Source:

But, what if the generally accepted story is either false…or plain wrong? What if it turns out that someone else is resting in the Kid’s grave in New Mexico, while he actually escaped, survived his wounds, served in the Spanish-American War, lived to be 91 years old, and died in Hico, Texas?

Brushy Bill Roberts – Source:

Well, some historians, legal experts, authors, several friends of Billy the Kid, and others believe the later to be true. After meticulous research and lengthy interviews with a gentleman named William H. “Brushy Bill” Roberts, many have come to the conclusion that he is/was Billy the Kid.

Brushy Bill’s grave near Hico, Texas – Source:

Efforts were made to have him pardoned by the then Governor of New Mexico in 1950. Unfortunately, the inquiry was treated as a media circus and “Brushy Bill” Roberts suffered a stroke during the inquiry. He died within a month, in the town of Hico, Texas. Several of those who became convinced that Brushy Bill was indeed Billy the Kid have since presented detailed and convincing arguments in fascinating books, including one entitled Alias, Billy the Kid*, first published in 1955 and another entitled Billy the Kid: An Autobiography*, published in 2014. A second pardon attempt in 2010 was denied by then Governor Bill Richardson.

Hico, Texas – Source:

Hopefully, someday, this mystery can be resolved conclusively through DNA testing or some other convincing research methodology. Regardless, Fort Sumner’s history as a rowdy Frontier town remains cemented in American Western history. Should Brushy Bill’s compelling story ever be confirmed, Hico’s place in Old West history would rise dramatically.


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Cities/Towns Named for Native American Indian Chiefs

Chief Wapello – Source: en.wikipedia. org

The following list of cities, towns, villages, hamlets, and unincorporated communities that were named for Native American Indian Chiefs. Several ghost towns are also included. This list includes translation-corrupted names, Anglicized names, as well as native names for chiefs. In a few cases, historians and anthropologists may differ on the etymology of the community’s name. In those cases, if a resource has provided some validation that the place name is derived from a Chief’s name, it is included on the list. This list does not include townships, counties, or states/provinces that are named for chiefs.

Chief Tecumseh – Source:

Of these communities, by far the largest is Seattle, Washington. The most common chief names used are Osceola, Pontiac, and Tecumseh. In all, 33 states and three provinces are represented on the list. States leading with the most cities/towns named for chiefs are:

  • Illinois and Indiana = 22
  • Michigan = 17
  • Wisconsin = 15
  • Oklahoma = 14
  • Iowa = 12
  • Ohio and Pennsylvania = 7 each
  • Minnesota, Nebraska and New York = 6 each
  • Alabama, Kansas, and New Jersey = 5 each

Chief Ahpeatone – Source:

The tribes whose chiefs are most commonly recognized in city/town names are:

  • Potawatomi = 25
  • Lenape (Delaware) = 12
  • Ojibwe (Chippewa) = 10
  • Sauk/Fox = 8
  • Cherokee, Miami, and Lakota/Dakota = 7
  • Chickasaw, Menominee, and Shawnee = 6
  • Choctaw and Mohawk = 5
  • Ozawa, Lenape (Wappinger), and Muskogee (Creek) = 4

Any corrections and/or additions to this list are most welcome. Enjoy!

Chief Quanah Parker – Source:

City/Town, State/Province – Tribe

  • Ahpeatone, Oklahoma – Kiowa
  • Anderson, Indiana – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Annawan, Illinois – ?
  • Aptakisic, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Aripeka, Florida – Miccosukee
  • Asharoken, New York – Matinecocks
  • Ashkum, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin – Lakota (Sioux)
  • Atoka, Oklahoma – Choctow
  • Bald Eagle, Pennsylvania – Seneca
  • Big Foot, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Black Hawk, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wisconsin – Sauk/Fox
  • Blackhawk, Mississippi – Choctaw
  • Black Wolf, Wisconsin – Winnebago
  • Blountstown, Florida – Seminole
  • Brant, New York – Mohawk
  • Brantford, Ontario – Mohawk
  • Burlington, Indiana – Wyandot
  • Cabazone, California – Cahuilla (added 5/11/19)
  • Canochet, Rhode Island – Narragansett
  • Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Missouri – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Charlo, Montana – Salish (Flathead)
  • Charloe, Ohio – Odawa (Ottawa)
  • Chebanse, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Cheetah, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek)
  • Chetopa, Kansas – Osage
  • Chickalah, Arkansas – Cherokee (added 5/17/19)
  • Chiloquin, Oregon – Klamath
  • Cloud Chief, Oklahoma – Cheyenne (added 5/15/19)
  • Cochise, Arizona – Apache
  • Coesse, Indiana – Miami (added 5/11/19)
  • Crane Eater, Georgia – Cherokee (added 5/15/19)
  • Croton, Michigan – Lenape (Wappinger)
  • Croton Falls, New York – Lenape (Wappinger)
  • Croton-on-Hudson, New York – Lenape (Wappinger)
  • Decorah, Iowa – Winnebago
  • Deseronto, Ontario – Mohawk (added 5/11/19)
  • Donnacona, Quebec – Iroquois
  • Donnaha, North Carolina – Cherokee
  • Du Quoin, Illinois – Kaskaskia
  • East Tawas, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Elkhart, Indiana – Shawnee (added 5/11/19)
  • Eucha, Oklahoma – Cherokee
  • Fontenelle, Nebraska and Iowa – Omaha
  • Geronimo, Oklahoma – Apache
  • Gotebo, Oklahoma – Kiowa (added 5/11/19)
  • Greentown, Indiana – Miami
  • Greenwood, Mississippi – Choctaw
  • Half Day, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Hiawatha, Iowa – Mohawk
  • Hyannis, Massachusetts – Mattachiest
  • Imnaha, Oregon – Nez Perce
  • Iuka, Arkansas, Illinois, and Kansas – Chickasaw
  • Kanosh, Utah – Ute (added 5/9/19)
  • Katemcy, Texas – Comanche
  • Katonah, New York – Lenape (Wappinger)
  • Keokuk, Iowa – Sauk
  • Keokuk Falls, Oklahoma (ghost town) – Sauk
  • Keota, Iowa – Sauk (added 5/11/19)
  • Keshena, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Kewanee, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Kewanna, Indiana – Potawatomi
  • Kewaskum, Wisconsin – Potawatomi
  • Kilbuck, Pennsylvania – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Kilobuck, Ohio and New York – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Kishacolquilles, Pennsylvania – Shawnee
  • Kitsap, Washington – Suquamish
  • Kokomo, Indiana – Miami (added 5/11/19)
  • Lacassine, Louisiana – Comanche
  • LaFontaine, Indiana – Miami
  • Lagros, Indiana – Miami
  • Lake Junaluska, North Carolina – Cherokee
  • Lame Deer, Montana – Lakota (Sioux)
  • Lesharo, Nebraska – Pawnee
  • Lewistown, Ohio – Shawnee
  • Logan, Ohio, Utah, and West Virginia – Mingo/Iroquois
  • Majenica, Indiana – Miami (added 5/11/19)
  • Makanda, Illinois – ?
  • Manteo, North Carolina – Croatan
  • Marin City, California – Licatiut (added 5/11/19)
  • Metamora, Indiana and Illinois – Wampanoag (revised 5/11/19)
  • Metea, Indiana – Potawatomi (added 5/11/19)
  • Mettawa, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Metuchen, New Jersey – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Mianus, Connecticut – Pagusett
  • Micanopy, Florida – Seminole
  • Monegaw, Missouri – Osage (added 5/17/19)
  • Moniac, Georgia – Muscogee (added 5/15/19)
  • Monoquet, Indiana – Potawatomi (added 5/11/19)
  • Montezuma, Indiana, Colorado, Georgia, and Iowa – Aztec (added 5/11/19)
  • Moonachie, New Jersey – Iroquois
  • Moosomin, Saskatchewan – Cree
  • Moosup, Connecticut – Mohegan
  • Mosinee, Wisconsin – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Mulga, Alabama – Muscogee (Creek)
  • Muskoka, Ontario – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Naaman, Delaware – Minqua (added 5/11/19)
  • Nanuet, New York – Munsee (added 5/17/19)
  • Naubinway, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Nemacolin, Pennsylvania – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Neopit, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Newcomerstown, Ohio – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Newaygo, Michigan – Odawa (Ottawa)
  • Niota, Illinois – fictional chief (added 5/9/19)
  • Niwot, Colorado – Southern Arapaho
  • Ogema, Wisconsin – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Ogontz, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia) – Sandusky
  • Okemah, Oklahoma – Kickapoo
  • Okemos, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Oketo, Kansas – Otoe
  • Oneco, Illinois – Mohegan
  • Oochelata, Oklahoma – Cherokee (added (5/11/19)
  • Orono, Maine – Penobscot
  • Osceola, Indiana, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, and Wisconsin – Seminole
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Ouray, Colorado – Ute
  • Owosso, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Paducah, Kentucky – Chickasaw
  • Patna, Illinois and Indiana – Ponca or Kickapoo
  • Peshawbestown, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Petoskey, Michigan – Odawa (Ottawa)
  • Pewamo, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Pocatello, Idaho – Shoshone
  • Pokagon, Michigan and Oklahoma – Potawatomi
  • Pontiac, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Quebec, and Rhode Island (part of Warwick) – Odawa (Ottawa)
  • Pontotoc, Mississippi and Texas – Chickasaw
  • Port Sanilac, Michigan – Wyandot 
  • Powhatan, Virginia and Oregon – Powhatan
  • Powhattan, Kansas – Powhatan
  • Pushmataha, Alabama – Choctaw
  • Quanah, Texas – Comanche
  • Quinney, Wisconsin – Mohican
  • Rahway, New Jersey – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Red Cloud, Nebraska and Indiana – Lakota (Sioux)
  • Red Jacket, West Virginia – Seneca
  • Red Wing, Minnesota – Dakota (Sioux)
  • Rumson, New Jersey – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Russiaville, Indiana – Miami
  • Saltese, Montana – Coeur d’Alene
  • Sapinero, Colorado – Ute
  • Saunemin, Illinois – Kickapoo
  • Seattle, Washington – Salish/Skagit-Nisqually
  • Shabbona, Illinois and Michigan – Potawatomi
  • Shakan, Alaska (may be a ghost town) – Tlingit
  • Shakopee, Minnesota – Lakota (Sioux)
  • Shawano, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Shipshewana, Indiana – Potawatomi
  • Shobonier, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Sleepy Eye, Minnesota – Sisseton Dakota (Sioux)
  • St. Deroin, Nebraska – Otoe
  • Stevens Village, Alaska – Athabascan
  • Strawtown, Indiana – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Tabiona, Utah – Ute
  • Tama, Iowa – Fox
  • Tamanend, Pennsylvania – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Tamaqua, Pennsylvania – Lenape (Delaware)
  • Taopi, Minnesota – Lakota (Sioux)
  • Tawas City, Michigan – Ojibwe (Chippewa)
  • Tecumseh, Michigan, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Alabama, and Ontario – Shawnee
  • Tekonsha, Michigan – Potawatomi
  • Tetlin, Alaska – Athabascan
  • Tishabee, Alabama – Choctaw
  • Tishomingo, Oklahoma – Chickasaw
  • Tomah, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Tonasket, Washington – Okanogan
  • Tontogany, Ohio – Wyandot/Iroquois
  • Topinabee, Michigan – Potawatomi
  • Truckee, California – Northern Paiute
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama – Muscogee
  • Tuscumbia, Alabama – Chickasaw
  • Tyendinaga, Ontario – Mohawk (added 5/11/19)
  • Uncasville, Connecticut – Mohegan
  • Victor, Montana – Salish (Flathead)
  • Wabaningo, Michigan – Odawa (Ottawa)
  • Wabasha, Minnesota – Dakota (Sioux)
  • Wacouta, Minnesota – Lakota (Sioux) (added 5/8/19)
  • Wakita, Oklahoma – Cherokee
  • Wamego, Kansas – Potawatomi
  • Wanamassa, New Jersey – ?
  • Wanatah, Indiana – Potawatomi
  • Wanchese, North Carolina – Secotan (added 5/11/19)
  • Wanship, Utah – Shoshone
  • Wapakoneta, Ohio – Shawnee
  • Wapella, Illinois and Saskatchewan – Fox
  • Wapello, Iowa – Fox
  • Wappapello, Missouri – Shawnee (added 5/17/19)
  • Waponsee, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Washakie, Utah (ghost town) – Shoshone
  • Washtucna, Washington – Palouse
  • Wasilla, Alaska – Knik
  • Wathena, Kansas – Kickapoo
  • Watonga, Oklahoma – Arapaho
  • Waubeka, Wisconsin – Potawatomi
  • Waucoma, Iowa – Sauk (added 5/11/19)
  • Waukechon, Wisconsin – Menominee
  • Waukon, Iowa – Winnebago (added 5/11/19)
  • Wauponsee, Illinois – Potawatomi
  • Wauseon, Ohio – Potawatomi
  • West Paducah, Kentucky – Chickasaw
  • White Bird, Idaho – Nez Perce (added 5/9/19)
  • White Cloud, Iowa, Indiana, and Kansas – Winnebago/Sauk
  • White Pigeon, Michigan – Potawatomi
  • Winamac, Indiana – Potawatomi
  • Winnemucca, Nevada – Northern Paiute
  • Wyandanch, New York – Montaukett
  • Yutan, Nebraska – Otoe (added 5/9/19)


Chief Black Hawk – Source:

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Hell’s Worth of Wickedness in One Cowtown

Frontier Towns, Chapter 4: Ellsworth, Kansas


“As we go to press, hell is still in session in Ellsworth.”  That’s a famous newspaper headline dating from 1873 about the situation in Ellsworth, Kansas. Ellsworth may have been situated along the Smoky Hill and Santa Fe Trails, but it was a third trail that set in motion a four-year long period where hell was loose on the streets of Ellsworth. Between 1871 and 1875, the town was the principle railhead for the famous Chisholm Cattle Trail from Texas. In fact, in 1873 alone, nearly a quarter million head of cattle came through Ellsworth on their way to slaughterhouses and meat markets in Chicago and elsewhere.

Ellsworth in 1867 – Source:

As a result, when these enormous droves of cattle and their accompanying cowboys arrived in town after months on the dry and dusty plains, often, all hell broke loose as the cowhands spent their hard-earned cash on gambling, women, and libations while in town. All too often, the wild and woolly activities led to arguments, fistfights, brawls, shootouts, and untimely deaths.

Ellsworth, historically and structurally sound! : Explorer ...


A number of famous and infamous Wild West characters wandered into and through the town during this period, including Wild Bill Hickok, George Armstrong Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp, Libby Thompson, Happy Jack Morco, as well as Ben and Billy Thompson. Once the railhead moved further west to places like Dodge City, the town’s streets and reputation settled down. Ellsworth became a more traditional Great Plains town. Today, it is home for approximately 3,000 people.

Future home of the National Drovers Hall of Fame – Source:

Efforts are underway in Ellsworth to establish the  National Drovers Hall of Fame in the historic and handsome Signature Insurance Company Building (photo above). This planned venue would help depict the unique Old West history of Ellsworth to tourists from across the country and around the world. The town also holds and Annual Cowtown Days weekend celebration in August with an actual cattle drive. Now, that would be fun to see!

Annual Cowtown Days – Source:


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A Town that was Born Through a Scam!

Frontier Towns, Chapter 3: Boise City, Oklahoma

Early 20th century aerial view of treeless Boise City, OK – Source:

We’ve all probably heard the urban legends of people buying swamp land in Florida from a con artist, but it’s a rare occurrence to learn of an entire town being founded on a confidence scheme…especially one that resulted in the sale of approximately 3,000 lots, and resulted eventually in an actual establishment of a town. That’s the story behind Boise City, Oklahoma; a small Panhandle town built on the treeless, prairie. But, if you were to have read the promotional literature for Boise City from around 1908, you’d probably thought you were buying a $40 slice of heaven with every lot purchased.  Even the name “Boise” (‘wooded’ in French) was misleading as the Oklahoma Panhandle is largely devoid of trees.

In 1908, the Southwestern Immigration and Development Company of Guthrie, Oklahoma, established Boise City near the center of Cimarron County in hopes it might someday become the county seat. The firm was composed of J. E. Stanley, A. J. Kline, and W. T. Douglas, who platted the town. The majority of the 3,000 lots that were sold went to out-of-state buyers who were less likely to be familiar with the area or to know about the deceptive and misleading statements in the promotional materials. Fabricated information included images of rivers, paved streets, numerous trees, many houses, multiple future railroads connections, sidewalks, and businesses. None of this was true…or even close to being true. On top of that, Southwestern Immigration and Development Company didn’t even have clear title to the land that they were platting into Boise City!

“The men were arrested in September 1909 under a federal indictment charging them with fraudulent use of the mails. The company literature, according to postal authorities, ‘grossly misrepresented the natural resources of Boise City and Cimarron County.’ It was claimed that the defendants made $75,000. They were found guilty, and Stanley and Kline were sentenced to two years in the penitentiary, and Douglas, who was critically ill with tuberculosis, was given a sentence of one year and a day. He died before going to prison.”


Cimarron County Courthouse – Source:

Nevertheless, despite all the false statements and criminal convictions surrounding its founding, the town of Boise City persisted. It did become the Cimarron County seat and a new courthouse was built there in 1928.  And, Boise City did gain rail service from the famed Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad in 1925. It even survived an accidental aerial bombing during a World War II training exercise without any deaths and limited damage.

Boise City, Oklahoma depot

Boise City Santa Fe Railroad Depot – Source:

Boise City July 5, 1943, 50th Anniversary Bombing Monument – Source:

Though Boise City, Oklahoma never rose in prominence or population above 2,000 folks (the population peaked at 1,993 residents with the 1970 Census), it has remained largely steadfast throughout, even surviving the pain and difficulties of being located near the epicenter of the Dust Bowl.  Today, like so many remote small towns on the Great Plains, Boise City struggles to maintain its identity with a fragile and dropping population of little more than 1,100 citizens.

Dust Bowl map – Source:

What the future holds for Boise City is unclear. It does benefit from being located at the intersection of multiple federal highways, including the primary route between Denver and Texas.  In the past, being a county seat of a rural, lightly populated, agricultural county,  would still have assured Boise City’s future more than most other similar-sized communities. Boise City has weathered both climatic and economic storms throughout its 110+ year history. But, as times, trends, and technologies change, its current status could be at odds with the never-ending shifts generated by the markets, political winds, and other macro forces. Only time will tell how the community fares, but given its past resilience, selling the town short is not recommended.


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Best and Worst Live Concerts Seen

Metric – Source:


  1. Metric – Detroit 2012, at the Fillmore Theatre
  2. Death Cab for Cutie – Detroit 2012, at the Fox Theatre
  3. The Eagles – Purdue 1976, at Elliott Hall of Music
  4. Aerosmith – Indianapolis 1975, at Market Square Arena
  5. U2 and Florence and the Machine – East Lansing 2011, at Spartan Stadium
  6. The Joy Formidable – Lansing 2012, at the Loft
  7. Pat Benatar and Loverboy – Traverse City 2018, at the Cherry Festival
  8. Doobie Brothers – Indianapolis 1975, at Market Square Arena
  9. Jazz Band (name unknown) – Boston 2016, at the Beehive
  10. Aerosmith – Indianapolis 1974, at the Convention Center
  11. Oscar Fuentes – Tucson 2019, at La Cochina
  12. Boston – Indianapolis 1976, at the Convention Center


  1. Aerosmith – Indianapolis 1979, at Market Square Arena – the band was too strung out and could not hear the lyrics
  2. Blue Oyster Cult – Indianapolis 1974, at the Stair Fair Coliseum – can only think of one hit – must have been desperate for some music.
  3. MGMT – Lansing 2013, at Common Ground – why were they so popular?
  4. An Irish Christmas – Traverse City 2018, at the Milliken Auditorium – performers were tired from all the holiday season travel.
  5. Toppermost, Beatles Tribute – Okemos 2014, at Celebrate Downtown Okemos – technically proficient, but didn’t excite me like I thought they might.
  6. Beach Boys – Indianapolis 1980, at Market Square Arena – largely was not my style – some good songs tho.
  7. Cheap Trick – Traverse City 2018, at Cherry Festival – Didn’t play my favorite song – too much focus on new album.
  8. Kings of Leon/The Stills – Detroit 2010, at DTE Music Center – The Stills were on so early we missed part of their set.
  9. Queen – Indianapolis 1976, at the Convention Center- I had the flu and it was at a bad venue for their musical style.


  1. Fleetwood Mac
  2. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  3. The Rolling Stones
  4. Heart
  5. Def Leppard
  6. Wolf Alice
  7. Led Zeppelin
  8. Weezer
  9. Paul McCartney & Wings
  10. John Lennon


The Accidentals, Aerosmith, Artful Dodger, Avid Kain, Beach Boys, Blue Oyster Cult, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Boston, Cheap Trick, Death Cab for Cutie, Doobie Brothers, Elliot Street Lunatic, Florence and the Machine, Frightened Rabbit, Gordon Lightfoot Tribute, Grand Funk, Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, The Joy Formidable, Kings of Leon, KISS, Kitten, Little Graves, Loverboy, Metric, MGMT, Oscar Fuentes, Pat Benatar, Queen, Radiohead, Sheryl Crow, Starfarm, The Stills, Toppermost, U2, and Uriah Heep.

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The Old West Personified in a Town’s Iconic Name

Frontier Towns, Chapter 2: Pecos, Texas

Few names portray a better image of the Old West than “Pecos.” The Pecos River is the natural dividing line between central and western Texas, as to the west of this iconic river the geography and landscape dramatically changes from plains to arid desert and mountains. “West of the Pecos” has long symbolized a geographic region and a way of life since frontier settlement began and remains a recognizable catchphrase yet today.

One very cool logo – Source:

Abutting the Pecos River is its namesake; the town of Pecos, Texas. It may be hard to believe, but the town was originally established as a camp east of the river. Fortunately for its future identity and claims of being part of West Texas, Pecos was relocated west of the river and platted there originally named as Pecos Junction. That name was shortened and morphed into Pecos City and eventually to just Pecos. Ever since, Pecos has been a strategic location along the Butterfield Stagecoach route, the Loving-Goodnight Trail, the Texas-Pacific Railway, and later state and federal highways. It also grew into an important trade center for ranches in the surrounding region.

Handsome and historic Orient Hotel/West of the Pecos Museum – Source:

Gorgeous Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church – Source:

As a Trans-Pecos trade center of the late 19th century, Pecos saw its fair share of saloons, brawls, gunfights, and other Wild West rowdiness. On July 4, 1883, Pecos (pronounced “pay-cuss” in these parts) cemented its relationship forever in frontier history, when the town became the home of the world’s first rodeo – held annually around Independence Day.

West of the Pecos Rodeo- Source:

Texas & Pacific Depot – Home of the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame – Source:

An iconic name, ranches, railroads, saloons, gunfights, stagecoaches, chuckwagons, rodeos, and dusty trails are not the only aspects that makes Pecos stand out from other frontier towns. Most iconic places have some sort of legend associated with them and Pecos, Texas is no different. For in this region, the legend of Pecos Bill grew out of campfire stories handed down by cowboys and ranch hands. This folk hero is alive and well today, as not only the subject of many tales and stories, but as a recognizable, unofficial civic ambassador.

Pecos Bill –

Today, Pecos is a growing and prosperous community of approximately 15,000 residents that straddles Interstate 20. In fact, it was named the most dynamic micropolitan area in the entire country for 2019.  Pecos continues to serve a significant wholesale and retail trade area as the largest town between the Permian Basin twin cities of Midland-Odessa to the east and El Paso to the distant west, with primary industries being ranching, oil and gas, and agriculture (especially it’s famous cantaloupes).

Pecos continues to honor and celebrate its noteworthy West Texas heritage through the West of the Pecos Museum in the historic Orient Hotel/Number 11 Saloon, its annual West of the Pecos Rodeo, the legend of Pecos Bill, the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame, and other events and activities. Sounds like a great place to visit or live!



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Ominous Sounding Frontier Town Names

Total Wreck, Arizona – Source:

As part of our Frontier Towns series, the following list of town names might make you want to think twice before moving there or living there. Some of the names are famous, while others are infamous. All of them are certainly memorable. Enjoy!

  • Bachelor City, Colorado
  • Back City, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bitter Creek, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bitter Springs, Arizona
  • Boring, Oregon
  • Bucksnout, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bummerville, California
  • Burns Flat, Oklahoma
  • Burnt Ranch, California
  • Cannon Ball, North Dakota
  • Challenge, California
  • Cheapside, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Chickenfeather, Texas
  • Contention City, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Cripple Creek, Colorado
  • Cut and Shoot, Texas
  • Cuthand, Texas
  • Cyanide, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Deadwood, California (Ghost Town), Oregon, and South Dakota
  • Devil’s Den, California
  • Devil’s River, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Dodge City, Kansas
  • Dull, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Fort Phantom Hill, Texas ( Ghost Town)
  • Gun Barrel City, Texas
  • Gun Sight, Texas
  • Hellhole Palms, California
  • Hideout, Utah
  • Horse Heaven, Oregon (Ghost Town)
  • Hungry Horse, Montana
  • Lame Deer, Montana
  • Last Chance, Colorado (Ghost Town)
  • Little Hope, Texas ( Ghost Town)
  • Loco, Oklahoma
  • Lost Cabin, Wyoming
  • Lost Camp, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Mule Lick, Nevada (Ghost Town)
  • Needmore, Texas
  • Non, Oklahoma
  • No Name, Colorado
  • Poorman’s Gulch, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Quicksand, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Remote, Oregon
  • Rescue, California
  • Rock Crusher, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Rough and Ready, California
  • Scarface, California
  • Scratchout, Oklahoma (Ghost Town)
  • Slapout, Oklahoma
  • Slaughterville, Oklahoma
  • Starkweather, North Dakota
  • Sucker Flat, California
  • Swastika, New Mexico and Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Tombstone, Arizona
  • Total Wreck, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
  • Two Bit, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Vulture City, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Weeping Mary, Texas
  • Who’d Thought It, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Wimp, California
  • Wounded Knee, South Dakota



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The Town That Was Moved Four Times!


The first of our new “Frontier Towns” series is about the historic Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado.

Pony Express Monument – Source:

At the crossroads of multiple important and historic transcontinental routes lies the quaint Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado. This classic western community, that sits astride the South Platte River, and is just a hair’s breadth south of the Colorado-Nebraska state line, has seen its fair share of historic intrigue and events. The Pony Express Trail; the Central Overland, California, and Pike’s Peak Express stage; the transcontinental railroad; the Overland Trail; the Lincoln Highway’s Colorado Loop; Interstates 76 and 80; and other important routes converge or pass very close by here.

  • Red icon – 1st Julesburg townsite
  • Orange icon – 2nd Julesburg townsite
  • Green icon – 3rd Julesburg townsite
  • Blue icon – 4th and current Julesburg townsite

But, in this particular post, it’s not the movement of people, pioneers, freight, or mail that is of interest – it is the movement of the entire town. In fact, at four moves, Julesburg may be the most-often relocated community in the entire United States. Here are the details:

  • The original Julesburg townsite was established by Jules Beni in 1852 below (south of) the South Platte River across from the mouth of Lodgepole Creek. It was burned to the ground on February 2, 1865, by warriors from several of the area’s Native American tribes.
  • The second Julesburg townsite (also south of the river) was established in 1866 east of the original location to be close to the Fort Sedgwick Military Reservation.
  • The third town site (now north of the river) was established when the railroad line was moved several miles to the northwest west of townsite #2 – this period was when the town earned the nickname and reputation as “The Wickedest City in the West.” During this time, the town’s population soared to approximately 5,000 folks due to the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
  • Lastly, the townsite for Julesburg was moved east from the third Julesburg townsite to the junction of the transcontinental railroad and the Denver Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad. The town has remained in this location ever since.

Julesburg’s Hippodrome Art Centre – Source:

While being known temporarily by several other names (Upper California Crossing, Overland City, Weir, and Denver Junction), the name Julesburg has always stuck and remains in place today.


The Town of Julesburg is now home to approximately 1,300 residents and is nicknamed “The Gateway to Colorado.” For those of us who have traveled to Colorado by way of Nebraska, Julesburg should be familiar, as it is the home of a state Welcome Center with a very impressive Pony Express Monument. The area’s storied history, cultural significance, and prairie landscapes are presented as part of the 19 mile long South Platte River Trail – Scenic and Historic Byway.



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Pendulum Urban Planning – The Wild Ride Between Pro and Anti-development


As with nearly every other topic these days, there are strongly held viewpoints in planning circles over development. It seems like either you must be pro-development in all cases, or anti-development in all cases, with no room for middle ground. Unfortunately for the professional planners amongst us, the middle ground is where we are largely supposed to be in our attempts to foster consensus. As a result, I would say there are a fair number of long-term planners, like myself, who are growing weary from the unyielding rancor.

This is not to say that urban planning was ever mellow, easygoing, and carefree. But, the big difference between now and three decades ago is the complete unwillingness of many stakeholders to listen, respect one another, consider other opinions, or compromise. Sound familiar? All one has to do is turn on the television or surf the net to see/read these entrenched partisans in practice every day and all sorts of issues.

A key problem with this becoming endemic to urban planning is it can have multi-generational consequences. Most master plans are in effect for two decades or more and most development projects are built with anticipated five to ten decade lifespans. Decisions made today likely won’t be reversed or undone for a considerable length of time.

Secondarily, the acrimony generated from what is deemed to be an unpopular decision can quickly whiplash planning efforts into the opposite direction with the next election. That wild pendulum swing between pro-development and anti-development hardly makes for consistent application of laws, rules, standards, or regulations…a particularly important quality when facing potential litigation. It also makes for haphazard development pressures that range from mild to intense depending on who is in office and the then-current political hierarchy.

Given the fluctuating nature of the development pressure of such pendulum swings, another issue becomes the lack of  a coordinated development pattern on the ground. This in turns leads to issues related to congestion, incompatible land uses, gentrification, or sprawl.

This leaves us with the question – what to do?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Require one year of civics classes in high school and college regardless of degree.
  • Rely on your master plan as your guide through all ups and downs.
  • Be inclusive, inclusive, inclusive! Never let certain groups control the agenda through political, monetary, length of residency, or other forms of pressure.
  • Enforce speaker time limits and rules of order.
  • Require respectful discussion among all parties at public meetings, including and especially among elected or appointed officials.
  • Demonstrate the four styles of listening (appreciative, critical, relationship, and discriminative) – hopefully, by doing so, it will spread to others.
  • Always…always be open to new ideas. Change is often the scariest notion for the public to accept and its perception often overwhelms reality.
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