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James Miller

Jim Miller notorious outlawAlso known as “Deacon Jim” due to his reputation for regularly attending church and refraining from drinking or smoking, Jim Miller was a born gunslinger. He was pretty much the ultimate hitman, boasting that he would kill anyone for the right price (sometimes anywhere from $100-$2000). Miller’s signature move was to find his victims at night while wearing a dark trench coat.

William Brocius

William-Brocious-notrious-outlawAlso known as “Curly Bill”, William’s story is rather sad. Although he was a notorious outlaw and led a gang of cattle rustlers in Tombstone, Arizona, he wasn’t necessarily known as utterly cruel. Brocius worked as a tax collector for the sheriff’s office later in his life but was still known as a heavy drinker, and had a temper to go along with it.

10 Notorious Outlaws of the West

10 Notorious Outlaws of the WestWhat did it take to be an outlaw in the days of the Wild West? The answers may surprise you. Outlaws come in all different types but they all share one thing: a reputation. We’ve all heard songs, watched films, and read books about gunslingin’, cattle-wrestlin’, train robbin’ gangs of feared bandits, but many left a lasting impression on American history. These are the outlaws that folklore has chosen to immortalize and to continue telling the legacy of their criminal acts. Some of these notorious bandits started off their life of crime in unusual ways, and some weren’t meant to be outlaws at all. The West was a very different place in those days, with roving gangs and lawless cities of citizens just simply trying to survive. It was a dangerous place, and even in those days, there were outlaws who outshined all the other bad guys. These are the tales of some of the West’s most notorious and infamous outlaws.  

Image courtesy of Roger Kirby at freeimages.com


Clovis, NM

clovis nmThe town of Clovis officially began in 1906 when the Topeka and Santa Fe Railway were laying tracks in the area and needed to choose a town site. It was first named Riley’s Switch (a reference to directional tracks) and was renamed, Clovis, later by the station master’s daughter. The thing that made Clovis what it is today (along with many other railroad towns in New Mexico) was the access to Eastern goods and supplies.

Midland, TX

midland txThe Texas and Pacific Railroad made Midland the midway point between El Paso and Ft. Worth in 1881. In fact, the town was previously called Midway, until it was changed to Midland. Construction began in 1880 as they laid tracks from Fort Worth and the camp grounds, shelters and supply stores not only brought workers to the town but also travelers from all over Texas.

Billings, MT

billings mtThe first depot in Billings was constructed in 1909 and was used by the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroad companies. The depot in Billings easily held around 200 passengers. It included a gentleman’s smoking room, a ladies waiting room, and various services for food and drink. By 1914, Billings was home to more than 10,000 people, nearly all of whom had traveled by railcar.

Reno, NV

reno nvAfter President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Bill into law, the city of Reno (then known as Lake’s Crossing) began when a railway agent held an auction of real estate in 1868. The rails through Nevada eventually started to be laid around 1890 as the Union Pacific began construction on the Salt Lake Route which connected Salt Lake to Los Angeles.

Tacoma, WA

tacoma waIn 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad chose Commencement Bay as the western terminus for the Transcontinental line. With this, and the state of Washington achieving statehood in 1889, Tacoma really started to take off. The town grew from 1,098 in 1880 to 36,000 in 1890. This expanded other modes of transportation throughout the city such as streetcar lines and roads connecting to the depot. Immigrants poured into the town.

Laramie, WY

laramie wyThe railroad is solely responsible for the existence of Laramie, Wyoming. Plans began in 1864 to place Union Pacific railroad tracks across the western plains of the small town. Crossing the mountains from Cheyenne, the tracks reached Laramie in 1868, after only 4 years. Passenger service soon followed and Laramie was known (as most towns were during the time) as a town at the end of the track.

Odessa, TX

odessa txWhen plans were developed to build the railroad on what is now Odessa, TX, it was as rough as you probably imagine. Around 350 workers with 60 mule teams hauled the heavy iron rails, ties, and equipment. Every day, around 24 carloads of track were used, as well as 75 cars of ties and 12 cars that carried water. Workers were in constant peril from on-the-job injuries such as train car wrecks and the occasional explosion.


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