AMERICAN ENDURANCE : BUFFALO BILL, THE GREAT COWBOY RACE OF 1893, AND THE VANISHING WILD WEST
by Richard A. Serrano
During the summer of 1893, three events were going on at the same time: the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West show, and the Great Cowboy Race. The Columbian Exposition showcased to the American public what the coming twentieth century would look like. They saw high-speed electric engines, drinking fountains, prototypes of modern conveniences, such as the dishwasher and the fluorescent light bulb, and other unique things. Both Cream of Wheat and Juicy Fruit made their debut. Over twenty-seven million people visited and it was a huge success.
Buffalo Bill leased fourteen acres of land costing him $180,000 right across the street from the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He employed 400 people of different nationalities who were Indians, cowboys, and soldiers. Cody was quite the promoter. He had glossy color programs printed up and a sixty-four-page booklet filled with articles about Cody's exploits on the frontier. Every means of transportation stopped at its front gate. His show ran for six months and drew profits upwards of one million dollars. Six million fans were enthralled and Cody was considered to be the greatest showman ever.
The Great Cowboy Race of June 1893 soon overtook the thrills of the Columbian Exposition and the Wild West show. Nine riders (not all of them were actual cowboys) rode one thousand miles starting from Chadron, Nebraska to the finish line in Chicago.The race would test endurance and would take two weeks. The Wild West may have been ending but not to the cowboys. They were proud, still had grit, and were not ready to give up on their way of life.
American Endurance is a fantastic read written by a master storyteller. Author Richard Serrano packs in the history of the Old West covering the settlers, the individual characters, the vanishing of the buffalo, Indians laying down their weapons to live on reservations, and the closing of the frontier. There's been a few books over the years about this time period but none of them have the caliber of American Endurance. The amount of detail within is mind-boggling. If you go to the Sources near the end of the book, you will see the encyclopedic research that Serrano did (29 pages worth) and they in and of themselves are fascinating to read.
So, if you have a hankering for the Old West, you must get this book. You won't be disappointed and you will definitely be entertained.