Buckskins, Bullets, and Business: A History of Buffalo Bill's Wild West

By Sarah J. Blackstone | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
GETTING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD

Now, a Wild West show in bad weather, it's hell, and when the weather is good, why it's beautiful. So we have good, bad, and indifferent. And then plain hell. Because when it's raining and snowing and the lot is all nothing but mud, why you're riding a buckin' horse there or anything, and you happen to fall in the mud and roll around, why by the time you got to the back end you wouldn't know your outfit. 1


THE GROUNDS

Buffalo Bill's Wild West toured the eastern United States and Canada, rain or shine, during the seasons of 1884 and 1885. These tours were made in a train of eighteen cars 2 and aboard a Mississippi steamboat that was abandoned at Rodney's Land- ing. The show was still fairly small (about 300 people), and per- formances were given in baseball fields, race tracks, and driving parks that already had some seating. To these seats were added bleachers as needed. The space required for the entire layout was not great; however, feeding and housing the company did require careful planning and hard work. The basic system was developed from circus and melodrama touring with special ad- ditions made to accommodate the unique personnel and equip- ment of the Wild West.

Touring proved expensive and exhausting for a group this much larger than a melodrama troupe, and Nate Salsbury in- stituted the idea of the long run in 1886. He would rent a large piece of ground near a big city, usually New York, and the Wild West would set up a semipermanent camp there, staying four to six months. The population of the city would provide a reliable

-37-

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Buckskins, Bullets, and Business: A History of Buffalo Bill's Wild West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • INTRODUCTION: FIRST IMPRESSIONS 1
  • Chapter One - HOW TRUTH BECAME FICTION 11
  • Chapter Two - GETTING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD 37
  • Chapter Three - ON WITH THE SHOW 53
  • Chapter Four - THE CONGRESS OF ROUGH RIDERS OF THE WORLD 77
  • Chapter Five - PARTNERS AND FRIENDS 95
  • Chapter Six - MESSAGES AND MEANINGS 103
  • Chapter Seven - FINAL IMPRESSIONS 125
  • Notes 135
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY 145
  • Index 149
  • About the Author *
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