Tuesday, March 26, 2013


By Guest Author, Keta Diablo

The Bodie Saloon, Bodie California
Build circa 1892
Saloons served customers such as fur trappers, cowboys, soldiers, prospectors, miners, and gamblers. The first saloon was established at Brown's Hole, Wyoming, in 1822, to serve fur trappers. By the late 1850s the term saloon had begun to appear in directories and common usage as a term for an establishment that specialized in beer and liquor sales by the drink, with food and lodging as secondary concerns in some places. By 1880, the growth of saloons was in full swing. In Leavenworth, Kansas there were about 150 saloons

By way of entertainment, saloons offered dancing girls, some of whom occasionally or routinely doubled as prostitutes. Many saloons offered Faro, poker, brag, three-card Monte, and dice games. Other games were added as saloons continued to prosper and face increasing competition. These additional games included billiards, darts, and bowling. Some saloons even included piano players, can-can girls, and theatrical skits. A current example of this type of entertainment is the Long Branch Variety Show that is presented in the recreated Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas.

Dancing Girl

Among the more familiar saloons were First Chance Saloon in Miles City, Montana; the Bull's Head in Abilene, Kansas; the Arcade Saloon in Eldora, Colorado; the Holy Moses in Creede, Colorado; the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas; the Birdcage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona; the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada; and the Jersey Lilly in Langtry, Texas. Many of these establishments remained open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

Painted Lady of the Old West

Common Misconceptions

Faro was the most popular game of the time, not poker. Those who played Faro were called “punters.” Faro was played on a table and required special equipment which facilitated the game. As such, faro dealers made their money by traveling around the West with their gambling equipment, and setting up shop wherever they could. These dealers often rented space on a saloon floor, and, in return, gave a percentage of their winnings to the owner of the saloon. Unlike a poker game, in which each person playing banked their own game, and either won or lost according to the extent of their “investment,” in the game of faro. Contrary to modern beliefs, poker was seldom played in the first saloons.

Whiskey Bottle

The whiskey often served was bad indeed. Called “Tarantula Juice,” “Coffin Varnish,” and “Stagger Soup,” the concoctions sold as whiskey were often made with cheap raw watered-down alcohol, and colored to look like whiskey with whatever was locally available, including, old shoes, tobacco, molasses, or burnt sugar. These whiskies were frequently given an extra “kick” by adding red peppers or, extra “flavor” by adding other things, like snake heads, which tainted the liquid. Now you understand what the cowboys, as portrayed in the movies, meant when they asked the bartender for a bottle of “your best whiskey.” They were asking for a bottle of real whiskey distilled in a place somewhere in the Eastern United States, like Kentucky, or, Pennsylvania.

I hope you enjoyed our journey back in time. Remember, not everything you hear or read about history is true.

Happy Reading,

Author Keta Diablo

Keta Diablo Keta is a multi-published author of paranormal and historical fiction. In 2009, her erotic romance Decadent Deceptions was a finalist in the RWA Molly contest. In 2010, Keta's entry Phoenix Rising finaled in the Scarlet Boa contest and in 2011 Keta's acclaimed paranormal shifter, Where The Rain is Made, was nominated by Authors After Dark for a BOOKIE AWARD and by Deep In The Heart of Romance for BEST ROMANCE OF THE YEAR

Her recent release is the sweet contemporary romance, SKY TINTED WATER.

The Amazon buy link for SKY TINTED WATER is

Many of Keta's books have won numerous awards: Top Reviewer's Pick, Recommended Read and Best Book of the Month.

If you'd like to know more about Keta and her latest releases, she haunts the Net here:


  1. I find saloons fascinating places. So much went on in them not just the drinking and gambling. The establishments were often used to hold trials as they were the only building in town that could hold a large gathering of people.

  2. Thanks for sharing old West saloons today, Keta. I love visiting old saloons as a tourist. We've also taken visitors from out of town to the White Elephant in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Lots of atmosphere.

  3. Welcome to Sweethearts of the West, Keta. I love, love, love stories with old saloons in them. Often, they were the center of the towns, weren't they. Your information is great, and the first photo is so good. I love old photos.
    Congratulations on your new release. I'm certain it will do well. Much luck, and thanks for being our guest.

  4. I love saloons and have visited the Jersey Lily in Langtree. Judge Roy Bean held many a trial there along with a few questionable activities.

    Waco had it's share of saloons though none remain and interestingly enough, the convention center now sits where the Reservation (Red Light District) used to be.

    Happy sales with your new release. It sounds like a winner!

  5. Fabulous information here, Keta. I'm thinking I'll be checking back here from time to time. I love the name Holy Moses.

    Congrats on the new release. Best wishes for tons of success. Thanks for visiting us Sweethearts today!

  6. Hello Sweethearts! Lovely site. Thank you so much for hosting me. I blasted your url wherever I could - and well-deserved. Much success in all future writing/reading endeavors.

    Blessings, Keta

  7. I found your post very educational and interesting. One of my secondary characters owns a saloon and now I see it differently, especially what they called the different beverages. Great post. So nice to meet you today, Keta.

  8. I certainly learned a few things from your blog, Keta. I always thought poker was the most frequently played game in saloons. I had no idea of the awful things they did to cheap whiskey. Lordy, snake heads just seems so extreme. Yuck!
    Enjoyed your blog. I wish you every success.


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