Some owners, however, sunk a lot cash in their saloons, using lots of wood, pot-belly stoves, and mounted wildlife.
Community’s Social Center
Saloons played a major role in the social fabric of society in the American West.
But not all were necessarily hospitable. Many were cold, dark and none too friendly. Most stayed open around-the-clock.
One of the more distinctive features of some Old West saloons was a pair of batwing doors at the entrance. They operated on double-action hinges and usually extended from chest to knee level. Sometimes, batwing doors served to separate different rooms in the saloons.
Traditional doors, for the most part, served as entrances.
Beer and distilled spirits — bourbon and rye — were the big sellers.
Homemade whiskey was available, but if you knew the ingredients, you wouldn’t order the stuff.
It contained raw alcohol, chewing tobacco, and burn sugar.
Varied Entertainment Offered
From an entertainment viewpoint, saloons featured a range of games of chance. This included poker, blackjack, roulette, and faro.
Music and dancing grew high in popularity because they attracted more customers.
Saloons in the Old West also served as public meeting places, since they were usually bigger than any other building in new settlements.
One of the best examples is Judge Roy Bean, who operated out of his combination saloon and courtroom.
Some Owners Were Legendary
A number of famous gunmen owned saloons.
They included well-known figures such as Wild Bill Hickok, Ben Daniels, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Bill Tighman.
Frontier saloons weren’t the safest places in which to imbibe.
Several well-known figures bit the dust in saloon shot-outs, including Wild Bill Hickok.