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Celebratin' Over 40 Years of Makin' Great Memories Each and every day, we celebrate in the drama that surrounds that bygone era of the late 1800's. It was a time of cowboys out on the open range, of the Native American Indians and the outlaws, of the saloons, the trains and the stagecoaches they plundered and of the brave citizens and lawmen who brought order to the boomtowns of the wild American frontier.
We take great pride in sharin' with you our tribute to the great American West. No other era in history has captured the emotions of Americans like the Ol' West. We feel pride (and some shame) from the successful conquest of the vast western land and share the courage with the brave settlers who tracked into the unknown on foot and by wagon train. American's ambition dates back to the traders, prospectors and shopkeepers who worked doggedly for a small fortune. Our respect and admiration goes to the calvarymen, lawmen and gunfighters who, in spite of being outnumbered in an unfamiliar territory, protected the settlers, railroad crews and townspeople who extended civilization. Our affection for the Ol' West is the product of numerous writers, artists and filmmakers who glorified it all. We also recognize those western heroes and their sidekicks who rode into our lives on the big screen and in television westerns not so long ago. We proudly tip our Stetsons to all the people that give us the Ol' West.
Working for this company is about as close as anyone can come today to the individual of the Ol' West that we glorify so much - the cowhand. We have the comradeship of the trail drives, the epic sight of a full campground, the adventure of meeting the requests of our guests, the pride in handling the hordes of campers settling in for the night and setting out on their daily trek to the beach and the satisfaction in a job well done.
Although we tend to glorify the life of a cowboy, in reality their lives were hard and bitter; riding endless miles to repair fences and herd cattle while weathering the ever-unpredictable elements of the outdoors. Their average age was 24; one in six were Mexican, 25% were African American, a few were Native American and even a rare few were women. They covered about 60 miles in a 15-hour day and usually averaged one cowhand for every 400 head of cattle. Most lasted in the profession of a cowboy for only about seven years.
The cowboy era began around the Gold Rush of 1849 and lasted until around 1887. It began as a cowhand for the great trail drives and ended as the glorified gunfighter struggling to bring law and order "to the west of the Pecos." The typical cowhand was a trail boss, cook, drover or wrangler. They were paid very little, usually working for room, board and tobacco. Jobs were seasonal. Round-ups took place in April with the trail drive lasting from May (still cold, but lots of grass) to mid-August (violent storms, drought and sparse grass).
The dangers of the trail drives included: rustlers, quicksand, surprise floods, lightning (take off spurs and hide guns and knives), stampedes (usually lasted about 4 miles and cattle would lose about 50 lbs. each, plus cows were lost by crushing or goring), dust storms, disease, scorpions and prairie dog holes. Cows could go about 4 days without water before they would become unmanageable and head back toward where they last remembered water to be - many dying along the way. After days without water, the trail boss would stop the drive to let the cattle graze and the cowboys rest.
Boom towns grew up along the trails to provide cowboys with a bath, a haircut, new clothes, whiskey, some gambling and the loving affection of women. When a drive was near, the cowhands took turns coming to town. Most towns were seasonal with false fronts hiding tents and shacks. Saloons outnumbered other establishments, two to one. By the late 1870's, bowling alleys, arcades and roller rinks sprung up to offer additional entertainment to the cowhands. Some towns began to advertise to bring herds their way and put on bullfights and Wild West shows to attract business. Area farmers despised the "summer people" - the cowhands, buyers and hanger-ons. Some boomtowns grew, developing a steady trade with permanent townspeople who soon wanted to control the trail hands. If they made their laws too strict, a new marketplace sprung up not too far away. It usually took about ten yards for a boomtown to become a permanent settlement. All worked well until the blizzards of 1886 when most of the cattle died. The investors never recovered from the loss of capital and the great cattle ranches soon lost the battle over water rights and land fencing and succumbed to the sheep, the homesteaders and townspeople.
By the late 1880's, this era was coming to an end. About this same time, the newspapers began to glamorize the Ol' West. Some cowboys reveled in the image and even constructed phony violence for the benefit of gullible Easterners, staging fake gunfights as the trains pulled up, hanging dummies from telegraph poles or dragging them across the plains as trains passed by. Dime novels were written to glorify the Ol' West. Melodramas were written and performed in the East, enchanting us more with the Ol' West.
This rich and colorful American heritage of the Wild West has captured the interest of people from every nook and cranny of the world. Due to this growin' popularity of the Ol' West, Frontier Town Wild West Show was born in 1959. As the Show thrived and expanded during the early years of the 1960's, a mighty need arose to provide housin' for the more than seventy ranchhands, rodeo cowboys, Native American Indians, Can Can Dancers and actors who created the Wild West Show. So in 1963, they tamed the land and set up camp in the beautiful acreage on the Sinepuxent Bay. And, lo and behold, it became a small campground for our hard workin' employees boastin' 65 campsites. Yet, it wasn't 'til six years later that our campground finally swung open its doors for business in 1969.
Frontier Town Campground has grown in numerous ways over the years. Durin' the 1970's, our first modern bath house was built. The 1980's brought us them highfalutin' computers, a new Front Desk, Camp Store, Laundromat and two more bath houses. The 1990's began with the construction of The Crystal Pistol Restaurant and a major revampin' of Cowboy Miniature Golf. In 1992, much of our campground was destroyed by a nasty Nor'easter. However we sprang up again! This time, we grew bigger and less vulnerable to the ravages of such calamities. With all this major reconstruction after the storm, we added a new marina, crabbin' and fishin' pier and cable TV. Also, our Front Desk was enlarged and renovated. In 1995, Trailer Life Magazine voted us one of the top six family campgrounds in the United States. In 1999, we introduced y'all to the newest addition to our family, our cousin campground, Fort Whaley Campground, located jus' 10 minutes West on Rt. 50 and Dale Road in Whaleyville, Maryland. That same year, we was a-sportin' a brand new activity pavilion, The Land & Sea Visitors Center as well as an enlarged Water Park featurin' a shallow swimmin' hole, fun fountains and mini-slides fer them youngins. In 2000, we started the millenium with a larger Front Desk, the Beach Moose Ice Cream Parlor and our Jaws Exhibit. In 2001, we have finished the construction of our Front Desk building, landscaped the front entrance with cactus and yucca plants for a more Southwestern look as well as adding a new Lazy River Ride which will encompass our entire Water Park. From our very humble beginnings of them there 65 original campsites in 1963, we now have more than 500 campsites.
We bid y'all welcome and thank y'all for growin' up with us, for sharin' yer vacations, yer memories and good times here at Frontier Town.