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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

SALOONS; What's In A Name? by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildingsSeries #PrairieRosePub

When I created the saloon in Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, I needed a catchy name. From my childhood came the memory of my dad building a short fence out of old tree limbs he found while taking walks in the woods.  At the time, we were living in a log cabin that used to be the carriage house on an old plantation. It was a cool place with a stone fireplace and huge windows in the front where I guess they used to load in the hay for the horses. So Pop thought the place ought to have a name. At the end of the fence he built, he placed a wooden sign with a horse shoe on it and engraved the name, The Iron Slipper.

POP with his dog, Guess

Naturally, when I thought of a name for a saloon, I thought of Pop’s old sign and name the saloon and brothel in Hazard, The Iron Slipper. By the time I wrote For Love of Banjo, the sequel to Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, Banjo decides to change The Iron Slipper to a decent establishment when he inherits it from the old madam, Belle. With Joe’s wife, Lola, The Iron Slipper transforms into a fine hotel and restaurant where many of Hazard’s fine balls and special occasions are held. In just about every Wilding story, The Iron Slipper is mentioned.

But I was curious about saloon names from back in the old west and secretly wondered if I would find The Iron Slipper among the names. Well, here’s the top 100 list of saloon names from the old west:

Saloon Names in the Old West


Dodge City, Kansas

·         1. Stockman Saloon

·         2. Bloody Bucket (this was gory, but unique)

·         3. Silver Dollar

·         4. Trails End (it could have been switched to End Tails or entrails, whatever)

·         5. Long Branch (of course, Dodge City. Remember the old TV show, Gunsmoke?)

·         6. Big Nose Kate


Brownville, Nebraska 

·         7. Crystal Palace

·         8. The Quick and The Dead (later a movie title)

·         9. Crazy Annies

·         10. The Last Chance

·         11. Hitch N Post

·         12. Horseshoe

·         13. Shady Lady

·         14. The Wrangler

·         15. J Bar S

·         16. Aces & Eights

·         17. The Broken Wheel

·         18. Re Load

·         19. Double D

·         20. Diamond Lil's

·         21. Shotgun Willies

·         22. Prairie Dew

·         23. One-Eyed Jacks

·         24. The Brass Rail

·         25. The Red Garter     

                                                                                THE ARCADE SALOON

 Eldora, Colorado

·         26. The Mangy Moose

·         27. Ore Car Saloon

·         28. Rocking R

·         29. Two Bit Saloon

·         30. Wagon Wheel

·         31. Rusty Spur

·         32. The Prairie Dust

·         33. Stables  (I suppose if the wife asked where her husband was all night, he could say, ”At the stables”)

·         34. The Anvil

·         35. Two Podners

·         36. Saddle Sore

·         37. Mavericks ( I wonder of this is how they came to name the show “Maverick)

·         38. The Brazen Hussy

·         39. The Red Eye

·         40. The Silver Bullet

·         41. The Blind Pig

·         42. Easy Sallies

·         43. Wild Horse

·         44. Broken Arrow

·         45. The Trail Dust

·         46. The Holy Moses

·         47. Bender

·         48. Calaboose

·         49. The Dry Gulch

·         50. The Gospel Mill (I wonder if they really meant “Gossip Mill”?)

                      THE BUCKHORN SALOON 

                                                                                    Pinos Altos, New Mexico

·         51. Hang Fire

·         52. Hard Case

·         53. Ten Gallon

·         54. Played Out

·         55. Pony Up

·         56. The Kit and Caboodle

·         57. Who hit John

·         58. The Mule's Mother

·         59. The Conniption

·         60. The Deadbeat

·         61. Forty Dead Men

·         62. Hard Knocks

·         63. The Hunkey Dorey

·         64. The Cocked Hat

·         65. Mustered Out

·         66. Somebody's Darling

·         67. The Tuckered Out

·         68. The Rusty Spur

·         69. Goldust

·         70. Wet Your Whistle

·         71. Cowboy Up

                                                                           THE SALTY DAWG SALOON

                                                                                 Homer, Alaska

·         72. The Tough Enough

·         73. Tenderfoot

·         74. Ride-em-hard

·         75. Mount Up

·         76. The Mosey On

·         77. The Caboose

·         78. The Bangtail

·         79. The Devil's Outpost

·         80. The Bettermost

·         81. The Bible Bump

·         82. The Bone Orchard

·         83. Boosy's

·         84. The Bronc Buster

·         85. Buckle Bunnies

·         86. The Hook or Crook

                                                                                   THE SUMMER SALOON

                                                                                        Fairplay, Colorado

·         87. Mugwumps

·         88. The Talking-Iron

·         89. Tarantula Juice Betty's

·         90. The Tongue Oil

·         91. Two Whoops and a Hollar

·         92. The Deadshot

·         93. The Devil's Addiction

·         94. The Dilly-Dally

·         95. The Gut Warmer

·         96. War Bonnet

·         97. Whistle Berries

·         98. The Fair Shake

·         99. Pie Eyed

·         100. The Prayer Book

                                                                                THE CRYSTAL PALACE

                                                                                    Tombstone, Arizona

Although there are many fanciful, clever, and unique names for saloons from the old west, I stuck with The Iron Slipper because it was part of my personal history.


The first book in the Wildings series. (Time Travel Historical Western Romance)

A haunted plantation… A trunk… And a date with destiny.

When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets—and she’s married to him.

Joe Wilding carries his shame in his pocket in the form of a harmonica. The woman he thought he married to save her life, is beginning to break through his stoic wall and find the secret he hides. Loving her could be his ruin. Only time can tell.


Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”

Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance. 

Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.

With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it.

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Also available in a boxed set of 5 novels by 5 authors: A Cowboy’s Brand


          (Book 2 The Wildings/ WWI Historical Western Romance)

Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.


Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.

Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.


In one graceful movement, he dismounted the pinto then stepped to the porch where Maggie stood with unrestrained tears that flowed down her cheeks.  Banjo swept her into his arms and kissed her.  The kiss wasn’t his brotherly, friendly peck on the cheek.  He kissed her with a slow burning need and ran his tongue along the groove of her lips then slipped inside. 

He tasted of coffee and mint.  Maggie reached up to weave her arms around his neck.  She stepped on her tiptoes to better reach him and taste him.  Her heart raced and heat rushed hungry waves of yearning into places in her body she never knew existed as she responded to his explorations with her own.  If only she could slip into his pocket and follow him wherever he went.  She wanted to become the marrow in his bones, to always be a part of him.

Just when she thought he would take her to her room and make love to her as she had asked, the kiss ended.  Banjo bent his head his rough cheek rasped against hers.  The fragrance of him, a combination of horse, pine and crisp snow, caressed her senses.  He slipped his hand into her hair and gently rubbed the tender skin of her neck where her blood pulsed beneath his thumb.

His mouth so close to her ear she felt the warm moisture of his breath as he spoke his last words.  She would never forget them, not as long as she lived.  Breathless from the kiss, he said, “Don’t forget me.  Write to me every day and I’ll write back.  You are the star in my sky and my compass home.  I’ll come back, if it’s the last thing I do, I will come back.  I swear it.”

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  1. Great article. Some wonderful and very evocative names here. They were certainly very creative with their naming.

    1. Thank you, Christine. I liked some of these names and was shocked by others like "The Bloody Bucket". Yikes!
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting.

  2. Very enjoyable article. I live relatively close to Brownville, Nebraska. I'll have to check out the Lone Tree.

    1. Ann, I hope you do and that you'll tell us about what you found there. I lived in Nebraska for a year. Winter started up and I headed south. LOL How did the Pioneers and the Native Americans survive those rough winters?
      Thank you for your comment, Anne.

  3. Sarah, I loved The Iron Slipper-that was a very unique name! Of course, some of these names on the list I'm familiar with, but some of them I've never heard of. I always have such problems naming businesses in my stories--I don't know why. Hotels, saloons, you name it. LOL I loved your Wilding stories!

    1. On behalf of my dad, I thank you, Cheryl. Like most writers I like to put some things from my personal history in a story. I couldn't come up with a name better than Pop's so The Iron Slipper lives on in stories and in memory of the dad who raised me. I miss him.
      Oh my gosh, I miss my Wildings. I don't know how, but some day I want to write about them again. They will always be near and dear to my heart.
      Thank you so much for coming, Cheryl. I truly appreciate it.

  4. Some of these are hilarious. Virginia City, NV has A Bucket of Blood saloon. The Mangy Moose is a store in Maine. Great article, but the books are even better.

    1. I thought so, too. Some were kinda icky, but others were pretty dang clever.
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting, Diana. I appreciate that.

  5. Sarah,

    Some of the names are hilarious. Mugwumps is my favorite. We have a (not historic) Trails End in my town. It's a restaurant/bar. The Queen Lounge and the Tavern were historic saloons in my hometown of Ft. Morgan, Colorado.

    1. I liked Mugwumps, too, Kaye. There actually is an ugly fungi called a mugwart. Maybe a name could be The Mugwart Saloon or Saloon for Mugwarts.
      So you have historic saloons right there in your hometown. Have you been to them? What a neat thing that would be.
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting, Kaye.

  6. Hi sarah,
    Love the story of the Iron Slipper!
    Over here in Yorkshire there's a pub called the BareKnuckle Boys
    Names are always fascinating
    Thanks so much for a fascinating blog

  7. That's an interesting name for a pub. Makes me wonder if there were a lot of fights going on in there.
    Yes! names are pretty interesting. Some towns here in the U.S. are pretty weird like Hell in Livingston County, Michigan. Imagine seeing a sign that reads, "WELCOME TO HELL"! LOL There are some places that may actually deserve the name "Hell".
    I have a hard time coming up with interesting blogs. I worry about it sometimes.
    Thank you for coming by and commenting, Lindsay. All the best to you...