Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thirteen Weapons that Won the West

by Jacquie Rogers

Not all weapons that won the Old West for the East Coast immigrants were firearms. Technology and determination won the west. And yes, firearms were an important part of that.

Here are thirteen technological weapons without which settling the West would have been much more difficult (not in any particular order, and ignoring a few other vital weapons).

1. Communications (Pony Express, then the telegraph)
2. Barbed wire
3. Stagecoach and freight system
4. The Homestead Act
5. Transcontinental Railroad
6. Square-set timbering (deep mine structure)
7. Colt Peacemaker
8. Henry Repeating Rifle
9. Deringer Handgun
10. Gatling Gun
11. Sharps Rifles (buffalo guns, 50-90 calibre)
12. Model 1873 Winchester Rifle

And the ultimate weapon the won the west:
13. Harvey Girls

What weapon do you think was important in settling the Old West?

Available now: Much Ado About Marshals 
Coming soon! Much Ado About Madams



  1. I would have to say the freight system and the communications. With freighting supplies could be brought into a closer local so homesteaders would not have to travel long distances to get necessities like flour and such. The communications made it so even if it took months you could stay in touch with relatives back east.

  2. TOTALLY agree about the Harvey Girls - although it would be cool to put these in historical order. Freight, telegraph and RR get my votes, for sure, probably more than the weapons.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. The Railroad. Fun post. Sorry for deleting the first comment. My eyes are tired tonight and I didn't see the typo until after it published.

  5. Hi, Mercedes. Yes about the freight. We're used to going to the corner store every time we want a candy bar so I doubt any of us truly understand what it's like not to have goods, even the necessities, readily available.

  6. Meg, I think women were the ultimate weapon, actually. I'd put them #1. You see it time and time again with the boomtowns--wild and wreckless until the ladies show up, then they start building schools and the men were tamed in no time. LOL

  7. Paty, the railroad was so instrumental. Look at the numbers of emigrants before and after 1869. The railroad not only made it easier to get to the West, but they could bring more stuff with them. And more goods were available to purchase, too. It didn't take long before branches of railroads were built all over the place.

  8. I think you have pretty much covered them, but I would had horses in there too.. Could not have done much in the west without a horse...And I agree with your about woman being the number one thing the west could not be without...

  9. When I first started researching outlaws for the class in which you and I participated years ago on Hearts Through History's online conference, I read that the telegraph was the greatest deterrent to bank robbers who hit town after town. With the telegraph, a sheriff could warn lawmen in all directions to watch for the criminals. I can see where that might be true.

  10. Kathleen, thanks for stopping by! Yes, can you imagine if Trigger were a llama? Or if the Man With No Name rode a stick horse? Okay, you have me laughing now. No doubt about it, without horses we wouldn't have gotten very far very fast. And mules, too. Mules are much sturdier, stronger, and require less food than horses.

  11. Caroline, I remember that class! I did my original research for the gamblers class for that class we did together. We ought to get together again--I think we're the only two of the four that are still writing westerns.

    Telegraphy really did change the West. And you know, so did telephones. I don't use them in my books because they feel anachronistic to readers, but most businesses did have telephones in Silver City, Idaho Territory, in 1885 when Much Ado About Marshals is set.

    Oh, and the town marshal was actually called a police chief, which doesn't sound very western, either.

  12. I think you have it all.

    I visited a Harvey House (now a different restaurant) in Guthrie, OK, when I was doing research for A Run For Love. In the back room, they had a lot of things from the Harvey House, including a statue dressed as a Harvey Girl. I took a lot of pictures, gonna use a Harvey Girl in one of the sequels. Fun.

  13. Callie, I'm jealous! The didn't have Harvey Houses in the PNW, so I haven't been to one. It's on my bucket list, though.


Romancing The West welcomes you to show your appreciation of our guest blogger by leaving a comment. If there's a contest, don't forget to leave your contact information. Thanks!