Old-West History Massacres at Palisade Nevada Part 3

About the town Palisade, Nevada in the old-west which got a reputation as one of the most violent cities in the west because of the strangely constant massacres.


Over 1,000 acts were put on by the Palisade Thespian Players, and at one time or another, every person in town participated, some of them several times in one day.

Many variations of the original act were presented, but the one which seemed to elicit the most shock and to cause the greatest panic was the one where a gang of bank robbers shot it out with the sheriff's deputies. As soon as most of the gang and quite a few deputies were down, a few dozen Indians would come racing down the main street, firing their rifles in all directions, "killing" women and children along with the men. This whole action used up approximately 10 minutes and one gallon of beef blood from the slaughterhouse.

Editorials appeared exhorting the army to protect the citizens of Palisade against the Indian attacks, but since the army was in on the joke, they paid no attention, and consequently the travelers kept reporting "Indian massacres." The whole railroad system was clued in on the joke too, as was practically every citizen within a 100-mi. radius. Not one of them gave the joke away; in fact they contributed ideas for the townspeople to use. Whatever props were needed were contributed by everybody, and even the blank cartridges, which were finally used by the thousands, were made by everyone.

This was the age of the "quaint," a term that Will Wright, alias Dan DeQuille, of the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, had originated. It was the age of the practical joke and entertainment at any cost. Palisade wasn't the metropolitan center that Virginia City was, and it had no place for a traveling group of players to put on a show; besides, it was too small to warrant even a first glance, let alone a second. Therefore, the citizens had to provide their own amusement.

Their type of entertainment scared hell out of hundreds of people and created reams of newspaper copy, but it did no permanent damage. In other towns, more lawless than Palisade, wildcats were pitted against dogs in a cage and heads were pulled off chickens, with hundreds of dollars bet on the outcome. There were fights staged between two jackasses that had been kept without water for a couple of days. A bucket was put in the street, but it was only big enough for one jackass at a time. The fight for the water in the bucket was said to be spectacular. These forms of entertainment never found a place in Palisade.

Palisade's brand of humor managed to gain for it a reputation as being one of the toughest towns in the West; certainly one of the meanest. But this only caused them to laugh even more, for at no time during these acts was there a crime committed in Palisade, and the town was so law-abiding that it didn't even have a sheriff.

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