Western horror stories are not hard to come by
The wild west wasn’t always as wild as the movies depict, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any western horror stories. Whether it’s the drama of a barroom brawl, getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no food, or an accident with no chance of recovery, there are plenty of horror stories both remembered and long forgotten. With no social media to let everyone know you’d dropped the darn skillet on your foot again, stories had to be written down. On paper, with ink. Or passed on by word of mouth, often getting exaggerated along the way. But here are five western horror stories that would make amazing western horror movies – in my humble opinion.
In Colorado during the winter of 1874 a group of six men attempted to journey through the mountains. Only one made it home alive. By living of the flesh of his companions Alfred Packer survived to tell the tale.
Roasted alive over an open fire. Laid out over an ants nest. Raped, flayed, or shrunk in green hides drying in the sun. These are all tortures said to be inflicted on the captives of the Comanche Indians. One recounting in particular would make an excellent movie (if it hasn’t already been done): The story of the Parker family, settlers who helped set up the stockade Fort Parker in 1836.
Not a pretty way to go. Without the proper medicines it took it’s toll on the victims. Water could be scarce on long journeys across the untamed west. Particularly in the hotter climates or during the summer. Contaminated water would produce symptoms of severe, watery diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. These caused the individual to become dehydrated and go into shock. It wouldn’t be a pretty story that’s for sure. But neither would it be the first virus induced horror story. Most instances of cholera I recall seeing, in movies, tend to be in post civil war hospitals. But the illness ravaged the west long before that.
With the gold rush (whichever one you like) and the need for fuel for steam engines, came mining. Blasting into rock, holding up walls with timbers, hacking away at the inside of a mountain to get the sparkly stuff, long hours, and little luck. If a collapse or explosion was to occur, and if you weren’t killed instantly, you could be looking at spending considerable time trying to dig yourself out whilst suffocating to death. Access to the ventilation shafts might be prevented as a result of the explosion or collapse (if there even were any). As well as the risk of further collapse. With the build up of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen -and with little air flow to bring in fresh oxygen- your time would be limited.
For many settlers the animals native to the American West would have only been seen as a novelty at the fair. Encountering them in the wild would have been enough to send you screaming for the nearest covered wagon and hoping they thought you’d vanished. So long as you were faster than your travelling companions you stood a chance of getting to safety. Because grabbing a weapon to defend yourself could be a mistake. Especially if you were facing a bear.
no fear of man, almost impossible to kill, expert swimmers, faster than our horses, unbelievable strength, kills bison, buries kill in hole, strikes with forepaw – from hughglass.org
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!