Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Imagine it’s 1890 and you live in Colorado. Your husband has done well in his business so you have the income to take a trip and you would like to escape the heat of the city during the summer. Where might you go?

Or imagine you have skin issues. You’ve struggled with it and have tried everything suggested by your doctor. He’s heard of one more thing that might benefit you.

Both scenarios will take you to the same place--Wagon Wheel Gap.

Situated north of Creede in the northwestern part of Colorado, Wagon Wheel Gap is your destination. Once you arrive by train in nearby Del Norte, you take the stage described at that time in the Colorado Daily Chieftain as a “luxury for the tourist” and make the four-hour trip to Wagon Wheel Gap.

As early as 1877, the hot springs in the area of Wagon Wheel Gap were well-known for curing skin problems. Beyond the health benefits of the springs, the area drew tourists who wanted to fish for trout. While researching the area for my novel A Bride for Darrell, I expected to find a local history focused only on mining. The level of tourism truly surprised me.

By 1890, there were two hotels as well as cottages at the Wagon Wheel Hot Springs resort. According to The Elk Mountain Pilot, the resort hotel boasted a bath house (part of what is today the Creede Colorado Dude Ranch property), hotels, cottages, a casino, as well as fish hatcheries. These hatcheries were vital because of the heavy amount of fishing done by visitors. Each year, one million trout were added to the streams from those hatcheries!
Fishing Party Photo from 4urranch.com/luxurious-colorado-ranch/history/

Image result for vintage photos of wheeler national monument
Vintage Postcard from picclick.com
After it was established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt, tourists also came to see the nearby Wheeler National Monument, now known as the Wheeler Geologic Area. Around the time it opened, the Palisade Tribune declared it  was "destined to rival the Yellowstone National Park." 

An interesting fact I learned in my reading was that local men came from the surrounding communities to keep the wagon trail to this monument as well as the one to Wagon Wheel Gap in good shape. Once a year, they set aside a day for “Good Roads Day” in the spring to keep the road into Wagon Wheel Gap passable for tourists. (Creede Candle, June 10, 1916) Imagine a community fixing their roads today—incredible!

Cool temperatures, a guaranteed catch of trout, hot springs, duck hunting, and health benefits, Wagon Wheel Gap was the tourist mecca for Coloradans for decades. Wagon Wheel Hot Springs is definitely where I’d go if I could just find that time machine of mine…

Connect with Marisa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marisa.masterson.33 or find about her new releases at www.bookbub.com/profile/marisa-masterson.

A sweet, historical western romance in the Proxy Bride series...

If Darrell Dean wants to inherit half of the Silver Queen mine, he needs to marry. Though he doesn't even like the girl, he agrees to marry the local saloon owner's daughter. He doesn't expect the surprise that he receives when a woman interrupts the wedding.

If Willa VanDurring wants to escape the danger stalking her, she needs a new name and a somewhere far away to go. At her guardian's urging, she agrees to marry Darrell Dean by proxy and then immediately leaves to join him in Colorado. She doesn't expect to interrupt his wedding when she arrives.

Can a man who didn't agree to marry the proxy bride and a woman pursued by murderers make a life together? What happens when the danger finds her? In a town with no law, how will she survive?

If you are interested in reading articles about the Wagon Wheel Gap Hot Springs , I suggest two  I found particularly interesting--
  •  https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/?a=d&d=EMP19180502-01.2.4&srpos=2&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-creede+hot+springs-------0-
  • https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/?a=d&d=CFT18900705-01.2.4&srpos=1&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-wagon+wheel+gap+hot+springs-------0-

Both are from a fascinating archive known as the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. It is free and easy to use.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Sailor's Life

Have you ever wondered about ocean and river travel in the 1800s? I had the wonderful experience of participating in a project with some other authors recently that had me doing some research on the subject.

History books tell us that the oceans of the world have been navigated for centuries. It seems so scary to me to think of a boat full of men using the wind to carry them across a stormy sea. Ocean travel has been done for years to trade or explore and of course in war. In the nineteenth century wooden ships started being replaced by iron and steel ones. Sails were replaced with steam engines.

One of the most dangerous jobs on an early ship was the rigger. The job was done high up in the sails where the footing was slippery and unstable. The rigger was responsible for releasing the sails at just the right time to catch the wind and propel the ship forward. Many riggers were lost at sea doing their jobs when they fell from their position high above the decks.

Life on board ship for a sailor was exhausting and physically taxing work. A sailor had to be tough to survive the difficulties they faced. They were kept busy by officers to reduce the chances for trouble. Since being at sea for long periods took a toll on emotions, keeping them busy kept them from getting into fights and causing trouble. A busy crew normally meant higher morale in the ranks and the chance of a mutiny was much lower.

Cabin boys on a ship were there to run errands for the officers as they needed. He also delivered messages all over the ship. A cabin boy’s main job was to serve the captain, though. Anything the captain needed the cabin boy knew how to get it done. During the nineteenth century boys took these opportunities to escape bad situations or find work when jobs were scarce. And sometimes boys as young as ten years old were kidnapped and put to work on the ships. They worked long hours and were almost always on duty or on call.

Another job for younger boys was the position called powder monkey. The title comes from the British Navy, but the job was necessary for all war ships. The responsibility of the powder monkey was to deliver gun powder from the magazine to the guns. Sadly, many of the boys in this job were forced to do it.  

Ships usually had a cook, a surgeon, and a parson to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the crew. The general crew included a boatswain who was in charge of maintaining the sales. Obviously this position became obsolete with the introduction of the steam engine. Deck hands carried out most of the other duties, such as handling sails, caring for ropes, and cleaning decks. Keeping watch at all times was important to the safety of the ship, cargo, and crew against pirates. All crew members took turns at watch.

The captain and his officers were responsible for navigation and managing cargo on board. The captain set the tone for the operations and his officers carried out his orders to the letter or they risked being punished and eventually kicked off the ship.

So the life of a sailor at sea wasn’t as romantic as it seems like it could have been. But after their time on the ocean was done, they started a new life in the Sailors and Saints Series. And in this sweet and fun series the sailors found true love.


Annie Boone writes sweet western historical romance with a happy ending guaranteed in every single story. Inspiration comes in many forms and Annie finds more than one way to make her stories entertain and inspire.

To connect with Annie, find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Researching Pinkerton Agents

When I started researching the Pinkerton National Detective Agency for the hero of a story, I had no idea what was a reasonable amount of time for an agent to spend on a case. Or if traveling from Rhode Island to Texas was believable. First, I consulted non-fiction titles that detailed Allan Pinkerton’s personal detective history that led into creating his agency. One book I read, Inventing the Pinkertons by S. Paul O’Hara was really slanted toward the economic and political conditions of the times. (rather dry) Then I read The Pinks by Chris Enss, which showcased the famous female detectives and the types of roles they performed for the company.

Allan Pinkerton circa 1861 credit Wikipedia

I dug deeper and, to my delight, discovered that Allan Pinkerton himself published reports of various cases. A first-hand account of events is always the most reliable and valuable source for research. The added bonus is that these reports read like fiction. Possibly he learned his writing skills because he released a couple dime novels based on cases. But he also wrote factual accounts of the timelines, events, agents involved, and the methods used. I was so surprised at how dedicated he was to fulfill the clients’ needs.

One story I read is titled The Spiritualists and The Detectives, and it related how two agents went undercover and worked for weeks to gain the confidence of the spiritualist who had a lawsuit against their client, hoping she’d admit the case was a fraud. The woman who read palms and gave séances claimed the rich client promised to divorce his wife and marry her. She sued him for breach of promise. When the spiritualist suspected someone was watching her, (which was happening because she’d rented rooms in her house to the two men who posed as salesmen) she jumped on a westbound train and ended up in Missouri, when another lawsuit was pending. The agents followed her on the train, but replacements took over surveillance once she settled in Missouri.

Something spooked her again and she set off, meandering through Illinois and Indiana. A sheriff attempted to serve her with a subpoena to appear in one state’s court and she successfully avoided touching the document until the riverboat reached mid-river and she was within another state’s jurisdiction. The replacement agents suspected she was headed back to Rochester New York where the original ones first met her and advised they return. In total, the surveillance lasted almost four months before the court date was close enough the agents could serve her with an order to appear and keep her in town. She lost.

If you’re interested in reading about real cases, I also found these titles by Allan Pinkerton: The Somnambulist and the Detective, the Murderer and the Fortune Teller; The Spy of the Rebellion: Being a True History of the Spy System of the United States; Bucholz and the Detectives. The best thing is the books are part of the project where out-of-print titles are scanned and made available free.

I used the research in writing my novella titled Taming A Scandal, book 14 of Lockets and Lace series. Socialite Mercia Saunders is traveling to her brother’s Texas ranch to let the gossip settle from a Philadelphia scandal. Pinkerton agent Dominic Prentice is pairing surveillance on the spoiled lady and hunting down stolen jewelry. Will the confinement of a cross-country train ride toss them together and ignite sparks?

Connect with Linda

Blog   http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Crooked Trails

Bad Guys
The American West is known for its wide open spaces, pioneers who courageously went across the country to settle the land, but it is also known for its lawmen and outlaws.
But what happened to send these guys on the path of destruction.
Everyone has a story.

Doc Holiday

He was a dentist at 21. 
His mother had died of tuberculosis and he'd taken care of her during the contagious stage of the disease. Who knows if we would have ever known his name if he hadn't contracted the disease? But after being diagnosed, he went west to Dallas. Teamed up with a dentist friend of his father and won awards for their dental work. 
But the tuberculosis worsened and soon he was forced to quit and go farther west. The rest, shall we say, is history.
He met up with Wyatt Earp and other notorious friends and his name is well known to those who enjoy reading about the American West.

Doc Holiday

As writers, we write about heroes and heroines and bad guys. We write about their stories, and what turned them to the crooked trails of their life. In the American West, many of the outlaws were effected by the Civil War. 
Think Frank and Jesse James. Belle Star.
Interesting is the fact that some outlaws became lawmen and some lawmen became outlaws.
But one thing is for sure, they took a crooked trail.

You can find my books on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited > Here

My latest book is Sadie  Book 1 of the Prairie Roses Collection.

Sadie Bluhm receives the letter to confirm she had been chosen to be the mail order bride for Conrad Frazier in America. She is delighted. Growing up an orphan, Sadie relishes the idea she has been chosen to belong to someone.

Conrad lost his wife six months ago. Desperate to find another, he enlists the help of an agency to find him the proper German bride. He needs a wife to continue onto California with the company he has signed up with. He will marry this Sadie, but she will not have his heart.

Will her hope be enough to triumph over his bitterness?

Have a blessed day!

Patricia PacJac Carroll

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Peg Legs & Prosthesis

Peg Legs & Prosthesis

 During the days of the civil war it was estimated that close to 30,000 soldiers from the Union army alone lost a limb in battle. Over three-quarters survived the serious operation that left them one less limb. After the war, the soldiers, who lived in a society that valued the body as a whole, feared their manliness was gone if they didn't have an arm or a leg. They were correct in their thinking. Most were called cripples and no longer seen as a full contributor to society.

But, the federal government came up with a solution. If a soldier's amputation was documented, they (the government) would provide and subsidize a prosthetic limb for those who needed it. They offered Union soldiers up to seventy-five dollars for an artificial limb, but, because the Confederate soldiers were considered rebels that went against the government, the rebels were not eligible for any compensation for an artificial limb. How unfair that would be today.

How did the soldiers feel about these artificial limbs? The Prosthetic industry was booming from the civil war, especially when the government helped to subsidize the cost. Many claimed the limbs appeared to look like the real thing and it was hard to tell a soldier was wearing an artificial limb under his clothing. The soldiers tell a different story.

Many amputees talk about how they had to re-learn how to walk. Many of the advertisements got them excited thinking they would be able to get around like they had before they lost their limb. That turned out to be false and they were so disappointed they were not able to strap on the limb and walk as well as before.

In my newest series, Pistol Ridge, I've written the first book about a man named Zebediah Harris, also known to his comrades as Peg Leg, who lost his leg from below the knee during his time in the civil war. Ten years later, after wandering from place to place, he was still feeling as if no one wanted him because he was a cripple. His quote, "There isn't a woman ten miles from here who wants a cripple like me!"

That all changed the day Josephine came into his life. He found there was someone who could love him for himself. When he realizes she isn't going anywhere, he has to learn to love her back the way she deserves. It's a heartfelt story that I enjoyed writing. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Short History of the Western Saddle

In the United States, horses are a non-native species, meaning that even our wild mustangs were originally tame and brought over by ships, primarily by the Spaniards as early as Columbus's second voyage in 1493. Some horses became free due to ship wreck (the wild ponies of Chincoteague are believed to be among them), while others were barnyard escapees or set free by their owners. Because of the high population near the east coast of the US, horses didn't tend to stay feral for long before being redomesticated. Out west, where miles of acreage were untouched, wild horses flourished.

Just like those who have been riding horses since 3000 BC, the Native Americans tamed and rode horses without the use of saddles out west. While on the East Coast and in England, a small, hunting and traveling saddle had been born, these were not conducive to the working environment of cattle workers out west, where they needed security and stability.

A more rugged Calvary saddle was introduced in 1859 by Captain McClellen during the Crimean War, and many cattle workers adapted this saddle or one similar for use on ranches because of its secure seat. But it was a Spanish Vaquero who invented the use of a wooden horn on the saddle at about the same time. Before the invention of the saddle horn, cowboys would rope livestock and tie them to either a D-ring on the saddle (which often wore out and broke off) or to the horse's tail, which the horse had to learn to tolerate, and often injured as well.

In the mid 1860's, a Mother-Hubbard saddle was invented which had a horn for cowboys to use when roping and became hugely popular. However, many cowboys lost their thumbs in learning to tie the rope quickly to the horn after they roped livestock. Though the Vaqueros had perfected the technique, most cowboys took to tying their rope before lassoing livestock to avoid injury.

Since that time, the western saddle has remained largely unchanged. The high back and front fenders help keep a rider secure while the work with their hands independently, and the horn is often made of fiberglass, bone, or metal instead of wood. Regardless, it's still used for working cattle on the range out west as well as for the pleasure of riders today.

Get her latest historical romance set in 1866 Kansas City:
A boxer who’s tired of fighting. A persecuted woman with an unwanted suitor. A marriage neither of them want, but both desperately need.
Get your copy:

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Pinkerton of the West.

We’re familiar with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I’m one of the authors of the series The Pinkerton Matchmaker. As I was researching law enforcement of the Colorado Territory I came across what was know as the Pinkerton of the West; The Rocky Mountain Detective Agency.
This was a volunteer law enforcement agency created and led by an unusual man who is little known to history. His name was David J. Cook and he is created with personally apprehending over 3000 criminals in his career.

Moving west in 1859 to seek his fortune in the gold mine, Cook spent the war years in counterespionage for the Union Army. After the war Cook was city marshal of Denver, sheriff of Arapaho County, United States marshal, general of the Colorado Militia and founder and chief of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association.

There was no formal training in the West for law enforcement.  You basically pinned on the badge and made it up as you went along. Cook was a natural at discerning who was a criminal. He was fearless and didn’t hesitate to kill. An expert shot and rider, Cook tracked down the notorious Musgrove-Franklin Gang, who were credited with twelve murders.

Cook wrote his memoirs in 1882, Hands Up! or Thirty-five Years of Detective Work in the Mountains and on the Plains. What little I’ve read of it on Google books, it looks to be an interesting, fun read. It’s also available on Amazon for purchase.

Having to learn on the job, Cook developed a set of five rules for protection he used to instruct new agents of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association. I suppose you could say it was the policy manual for self preservation in apprehending criminals in the Wild West.

I. Never hit a prisoner over the head with your pistol, because you may afterwards want to use your weapon and find it disabled. Criminals often conceal weapons and sometimes draw one when they are supposed to have been disarmed.

II. Never attempt to make an arrest without being sure of your authority. Either have a warrant or satisfy yourself thoroughly that the man whom you seek to arrest has committed an offense.

III. When you attempt to make an arrest be on your guard. Give your man no opportunity to draw a pistol. If the man is supposed to be a desperado, have your pistol in your hand or be ready to draw when you make yourself known. If he makes no resistance there will be no harm done by your precaution. My motto has always been "It is better to kill two men than to allow one to kill you."

IV. After your prisoner is arrested and disarmed treat him as a prisoner should be treated — as kindly 'as his conduct will per mit. You will find that if you do not protect your prisoners when they, are in your possession, those whom you afterwards attempt to arrest will resist you more fiercely, and if they think they will be badly dealt with after arrest, will be inclined to sell their lives as dearly as possible.

V. Never trust much to the honor of prisoners. Give them no liberties which might endanger your own safety or afford them an opportunity to escape. Nine out of ten of them have no honor.


Sophie Dawson 's books can be found on Amazon. Her next release is An Agent for Rilla (The Pinkerton Matchmaker #32 coming June 7.

Friday, May 17, 2019

How Fast Could You Travel Across the U.S.?


Today, we shrug off the convenience of long-distance travel as part of life, but it wasn’t that long ago that simply getting there required a huge investment of time and money.

The experience of traveling can often feel frustratingly slow.  But despite the traffic jams on the roads and congested airports, we don’t know how good we have it today compared to our great-great grandparents.
In this age of instant digital communications and fast travel, we tend to forget that not so long ago traveling distances were subjectively very different.  In the 1800s, for example, traveling a few hundred miles across to the U.S. meant taking a steam-powered train, and the trip could take days.  Going from coast to coast, which now takes less than a day, could take weeks.

The best way to understand how fast one could travel across the country back in those simpler, but slower, times is these maps from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States.  All the maps use New York City as a starting point on the East Coast, and show how long it would take to move westward across the country.
As you can see in the map above,  in 1800, it took a whole day to barely get outside of the city; two weeks to reach Georgia or Ohio; and in five weeks, you could just about get to Illinois and Louisiana.

About 30 years later, in 1830, train travel in the U.S. was almost twice as fast (a huge improvement!), but still quite slow by modern standards.  Rather than taking two weeks, going to Georgia or Ohio from New York City took one week, and in two you could get to the state borders of Louisiana, Arkansas and Illinois.  Getting to Minnesota would have taken about five weeks.

I’m sure you noticed the major change in the map above. By 1857, which is still within one lifetime from someone born around 1800, travel by rail (the fastest way to get around at the time—remember that the Wright brothers were not even born yet and air travel was far off in the future) had gotten significantly faster.
You could now do in a day or two what used to take a couple weeks.  With a week’s travel you could get to the eastern border of Texas, and in about four weeks you could get to California. Only the Northwest took longer than a month to reach from New York City.

 If the latest map wasn’t a big enough step forward for you, take a look at this one from 1930. It now only takes two days to get across half the U.S. states by train, and three to four days to get to the other coast from New York City.  It’s hard to overstate how big a difference this makes in how people perceive the world. There’s a big difference, both for families and businesses, between spending two months traveling back and forth across the country vs. less than two weeks!

 Thanks to the University of Nebraska for providing some of the information referenced in this article.