Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Historical Quiz and Tidbits with Amanda Cabot

Little Known Bits of History
By Amanda Cabot

I promised Natalie a post about history today, but let’s start with a quiz.  Oh, you weren’t expecting that, were you?  Let’s try, anyway.  Here are a few questions to test your historical knowledge.  I’ll make it easy on you.  Instead of fill-in-the-blanks, which I hate, these are all true/false questions.

1.      Abilene was founded in 1867 as part of the Union Pacific’s expansion west.  Like most early railroad towns, it was characterized by saloons, gambling halls and so much rowdiness that it became known as “Hell on Wheels.”

2.      The Army post that was established to protect the railroad workers in Omaha is still in existence today, although it’s now an Air Force base.

3.      When it opened in 1882, Denver’s opera house was the only one west of the Mississippi.

4.      In 1883, San Francisco was the wealthiest city per capita in the world.

5.      The Inter Ocean hotel in Salt Lake City was the first anywhere to have electric lights in each of the guest rooms.

Are you ready for the answers?  Number one is false, number two is false.  In fact, they’re all false.  Surprised?  You’ll probably be more surprised to learn that if you substitute “Cheyenne” for the city names I used, the statements all become true.  Yes, in less than twenty years, Cheyenne went from a rough and tumble railroad town to become both the territorial capital and one of the wealthiest cities in the country.  That wealth brought with it many of the amenities you’d expect, including an opera house that attracted the likes of Lily Langtry, streets lined with mansions, some of which boasted their own ballrooms, and electric lights for both homes and streets.
Though Cheyenne was founded as a railroad town and though the Union Pacific, along with the territorial government were major contributors to the city’s growth, much of the wealth came from cattle.  Believe it or not, raising cattle in Wyoming came about almost by accident.  When bad timing forced one herd to remain in Wyoming rather than be driven east during the winter of 1854, the owner left, probably expecting the worst.  Instead, when he returned in the spring, he discovered that not only was his herd still intact, but the animals had thrived on the air-cured grasslands of eastern Wyoming. 
Cattle ranching grew rapidly in Wyoming Territory, in part because of the open range.  Who could resist the lure of free grazing?  The result was an influx of ranchers and cattle companies, culminating in what was called the “Great Grass Bonanza” of 1876 to 1886.  It was during that era that Cheyenne reached its pinnacle of wealth and influence, with cattle barons dominating the city’s social events.  But all things end.  Greed that led to overgrazing, and a particularly brutal winter with massive herd losses caused many of the cattle barons to declare bankruptcy during the spring of 1887.    
Depressing?  Some might say so.  I’m sure that if I’d lived in Cheyenne then, I would have been distressed by all the changes that the end of that first cattle era brought.  But as an author 125 years later, I found that final year of immense wealth and prosperity intriguing enough to use it as the background for “The Fourth of July Bride,” my story in The 12 Brides of Summer: Novella Collection #2.
So, let’s end with one more quiz:
1.      True or false: An author can find a story in almost anything.
True.  Definitely true.

The 12 Brides of Summer -- Coming July 1,2015
Fireworks start to fly as love finds its way into open hearts in the 12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #2.

A Bride Rides Herd by Mary Connealy
Matt Reeves arrives at his brother's ranch to find Betsy Harden alone with the little girls during a cattle drive. Will the ladies be too much to handle when Matt steps in for the missing ranch hand?

The Fourth of July Bride by Amanda Cabot
Cattle baron Gideon Carlisle offers to pay for surgery that Naomi Towson's mother needs, if Naomi will enter a faux courtship with him while his mother is visiting over the fourth of July. It's a business arrangement, nothing more.

The Summer Harvest Bride by Maureen Lang
Sally Hobson is practically engaged to the mayor's son when Lukas Daughton and his family come to town to build a gristmill. She can't deny an unusual feeling growing for Lukas, but is he trustworthy?

With both parents avid readers, it's no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction, which included a play for her fifth grade class entitled "All About Thermometers," were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she's sold more than thirty novels under a variety of pseudonyms. When she's not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and - of course - reading. 


  1. Natalie -- Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your blog. I enjoyed sharing some historical tidbits with your readers.

  2. I enjoyed the background to your story, Amanda. Although I knew much of the history already (and aced the quiz), you tied it all together beautifully. As I'm certain your story does.

  3. Hi, Amanda! Thank you so much for sharing. I was fascinated by the times and events you mentioned. I look forward to reading your novella.

    Hi, Mary! Thanks for coming by the Sweet South Blog!


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