Imagine a town so riddled with bullet holes and so full of neck-stretched hemp as to make other Wild West towns look like the headquarters of a Billy Graham crusade. Las Vegas, New Mexico, situated on the historic Santa Fe Trail, played host to more than its share of gunfighters, bandits and Indian warriors during its heyday. As an end-of-track town on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe rail line, like many railroad terminus points, it became the natural location for more gun battles, barroom brawls and hangings than any other town on the Western frontier.
Wildest of the Wild West is not a small town history, but rather a collection of western tales relating the many dramatic and melodramatic events centered around Las Vegas, New Mexico, which rocked the West in the days of Billy the Kid. The Kid and Pat Garrett are only two of the colorful array of characters Howard Bryan presents in Wildest of the Wild West. All these true tales are drawn in large part from early newspaper reports, the better to capture the special style and flavor of the Old West.
The years between 1835 and 1915 were indeed tempestuous. Tales appearing in the book include the first hanging of a woman on the Western frontier; how the daughter of an Apache chief chose death over dishonor; midnight lynchings from the “hanging windmill which occurred to frequently that the boys of Las Vegas were hanging their dogs in imitation, and the filming of some of the earliest Western movies.