Saloons in the Old West ~ Mirrors and Mahogany?

Patrick’s Saloon in Cat’s Cafe wasn’t the highly polished, rich mahogany, mirrored saloon depicted in film and television westerns — at least not in the beginning.

Western towns in the 1860s and ’70s were thrown up faster than they could be properly built. Only a few buildings were built to last. Most began as tent structures; later proprietors created the effect of a finished town with the use of flimsy false fronts to encourage west-bound farm families to stay and settle.

Not surprisingly, before these arid western towns had any means of effective water distribution, and no fire departments at all, many of these structures quickly went up in flames when a rowdy drunk shot off a gun or turned over a lantern. Patrick’s Saloon was one of the few substantial buildings, owing to Patrick’s keen ability to seize opportunity in the least likely places.

There, his wife Catherine meets all of the influential figures of the area, including the corrupt rancher who runs the town and all who live there, the wild drunken sheriff, the youngest son in a criminal clan with a heart of gold, a genteel, self-serving newspaper publisher; a local builder, banker, and barmaid; and a quiet Native American mother and son who could ultimately help make Cat’s dream a reality if they can muster the courage in this lawless, racist land.

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