Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gambling on the Old West Trains

In the days of the Old West, traveling by train was a vacation in itself. It was a new form of travel, exciting and adventurous. Passengers could peek through the curtained windows of their train cars catching visions of the Wild West as they raced across the landscape at speeds never before imagined.

They could also meet new people, the type of people they probably would not encounter in their everyday lives, like performers, outlaws, and gamblers. In fact, according to Keith Wheeler's The Railroaders, historians estimate that more than 300 cardsharps called the Union Pacific Railroad system "home," and a deck of cards was colloquially referred to as a "railroad Bible."

The British cardsharp Poker Alice Ivers, a blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty, made her name running gaming tables in the mining camps, but spent her vacation days playing high-stakes poker games on trains. She was so successful in her travels that she finally retired to Deadwood, South Dakota and invested her winnings in a moral bordello, closing her doors on Sundays to teach Bible lessons to her employees.

George Devol was one of the most well-known railroad cardsharps, reportedly winning more than $2 million from his fellow passengers playing popular games such as three-card monte, but he liked to take chances and lost most of his winnings. Devol also marked his deck when playing cards and was known to be involved in more than one gun battle in defense of his life. He was also known to have jumped from more than one speeding train, dodging bullets.

Canada Bill Jones may have been the only gambler who tried to make a deal with the railroads in order to legitimize his trade, offering the Union Pacific Railroad $10,000 for one year rights to all three-card monte games on the line, promising he would only target "traveling salesmen and Methodist preachers." The railroad turned him down.

33 comments:

Rachel Hoyt said...

Fascinating stuff! I wish I could ride that train. :)

Jumpingpolarbear said...

How awesome would it be to take one of those trains and play polker. 1800's clothes are mandatory of course :)

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I don't enjoy gambling, but I I would have loved to ride that train just to watch all the different characters in action!

R. Yunus Satrio Hastomo said...

Nice blog :)

Agata T. said...

amazing blog !

A. Mondal said...

It would have been a good adventure to take one of those trains... Though I don't enjoy gambling the experience of rushing through the wild west with such different people would be enjoyable...

Jesino said...

beautiful blog

Wawan Herdianto said...

wonderful blog

Akash Bansal said...

heloo .. its a nice bolg .. but i need ur help beczuse me want to put add's on by blog but me nt able to de that can u help plzzz....
my blog is www.iwhp.blogspot.com

Kevin said...

Beautiful blog, interesting and elaborate writing, as if I were right there!

Darla Sue Dollman said...

Thank you for the compliments, everyone. They are greatly appreciated. I feel the same way you do--wish I was there! It would be so much fun!

Akash, I'm not very good with such things, either, but I sent you an email.

moneymakers21 said...

Nice blogs...:)

Darla Sue Dollman said...

If you're interested in reading any of my other writings I have a Facebook page where I post links to all of my articles and blog posts: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Darla-Sue-Dollman/172206199498325

game gold said...

beautiful blog

Sam said...

Mobile Gambling...Before the word mobile was in vogue!

Life Have Fun said...

nice offers for gambling :)

Pipolux said...

Very good !!!! Nice Blog !!

HansMueller said...

Reading this post was really fun! Awesome story :)

Silsilah Qsuwoeng said...

waoowww nice blog,,,like..

Jess said...

I love your blog, it's beautiful! I'm a History student at the moment and I've always loved American History but have never had much chance to learn about this area within college - I'm really glad I stumbled across your blog!

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I'm glad, too, Jess. I read constantly, and love everything about the American West. Most of all, though, I enjoy sharing this knowledge. To me, it's exciting, like sitting around a campfire sharing stories about the past. And if anyone ever has a story to share and wants to post a blog as a guest, I would welcome that, too!

Митрона said...

How exciting! Wonderful blog, I've always been fascinated by WW stuff! That's so catching..

sandesh said...

nice blog...bravo!!!!

S.L. Gabriel said...

That is very interesting to know.

Lucía Marién Vallory said...

Excellent blog!!!!!!!!!

Claire Lopez said...

Love your blog! My father collected books about Texas and it's been so interesting to read how they lived....back in the "olden days." As a poker player myself, I loved the story of Alice -- and her moral bordello!

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I know! I want to find more on Alice! I also have a huge library of books on the Old West, many of them on Texas. Tell your father to hang onto those books--they're probably worth some money. There are many collectors of books and memorabilia on the Old West, including me! I have a huge collection of books, which is where I get most of my stories. That and museums, travels, talks with locals, old newspapers...

Jeff Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Indigo Red said...

Although George Devol made more than $2 million, he died nearly penniless in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1903.

P.T. Macias - Author said...

Very interesting information. I have always been fascinated by the WW. It seems to have been some hard, exciting, and incredible times. Do you happen to have any information on the Apache Indians?

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I do! I'm working on another post right now, but I can do one on the Apache. Are you studying the Apache? Writing about them, by chance?

klima servisi said...

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Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in the old west I had A