Most of the ranchers around Sand Creek had brought cattle up from Texas when free grass opened in Nebraska. It was tough, but eventually Ben Wyatt's Bar-W and the other ranches began to prosper. And so did the shantytown of Sand Creek.
The town's old sod buildings were replaced by plank structures and the riffraff that seemed to thrive in the lawlessness of a hide-town gave way to honest merchants. Its very existence depended upon the cattle business. When the ranches hurt, Sand Creek hurt—and the ranches were hurting bad in 1876.
The discovery of gold in nearby Black Hills brought thousands of people to the area and soon put a strain on the food supply. At first, there were random rustlings. But now it was no longer just a few head stolen to feed a mining camp. The thievery was too widespread—there had to be some kind of organization behind it. So the Cattlemen's Association hired Luke Howard and several others to put a stop to it, using whatever means they had to employ to get the job done!
"This stark, realistic portrait of Nebraska in the 1870's recreates a time and place where some of the villains carried sidearms but the real crooks packed fountain pens." —Booklist