Test Your Old West IQ

Test Your Old West IQ

The Old West, or the American Frontier, is rich with history and filled with legends. It was a time of adventure, discovery and hardship too. So, let’s see how much you know about this historical time in our nation’s history. It’s time to test your Old West IQ.

Do you know where the custom of spreading sawdust on the floor came from?

Rumor has it that this custom first started in Deadwood, South Dakota to cover the gold dust that would fall on the floor when people entered bars and saloons. The sawdust was used to hide it and would then be swept up at night. That’s pretty clever.

How did the “Red Light District” get its name?

It all started with a place called the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City, Kansas. The building’s front door was made from red glass. When it was lit at night, it glowed red to the outside world. Colorful story.  

How many pieces of mail did the Pony Express carry?

During its 19 months in operation from 1860 through 1861, the Pony Express carried nearly 35,000 pieces of mail over more than 650,000 miles. And, it only lost one mail sack. Not bad.

Whiskey was the beverage of choice in the days of the Old West. It went by many different names. Do you know some of them?

Some of the more common monikers included: bottled courage, bug juice, coffin varnish, dynamite, firewater, gut warmer, joy juice, neck oil, nose paint, redeye, tarantula juice, tonsil varnish and tornado juice. Cheers!

There’s a common saying that we still use today – “keep your ear to the ground.” Do you know its origin?

A plainsman would listen to the ground to hear hoofbeats. It became the westerner’s warning to stay alert. Hmm. Who knew?

How did trail masters driving herds know what direction to head?

During cattle drives, when the chuck wagon cook was done for the day, he placed the tongue of the chuck wagon facing north. So, when the trail master started in the morning, he would look at the tongue and know what direction to move the herd. Let’s hope that cook didn’t have too much firewater the night before. 😉

The “Code of the West,” – an unwritten code built on the notion of hard work, honest effort and just rewards. There were some interesting and unwritten guidelines. How many of these do you know?

  • Don’t inquire into a person’s past.
  • Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
  • Never steal another man’s horse. A horse thief pays with his life.
  • Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.
  • Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy.”
  • No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.
  • Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.
  • Live each day with courage.
  • Talk less and say more.
  • Be tough, but fair.

So, how’d you do? Did you get the whole kit and caboodle?

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