Worldbuilding Wednesday 5/9/18: The Wild West

I’m going to guess this cowgirl just busted her bare-chested (but chaps-wearing) boyfriend out of a Mexican jail.

Yippee-ki-yay! The Western is a uniquely American form of cinema and literature taking its plot, characters, and setting from the American Old West in the years 1850 to 1900. Cowboys (and cowgirls) ride horses, bear rifles and revolvers, and often live a nomadic life drifting through small towns, ranches, saloons, and military forts in the arid, dry landscapes west of the Rio Grande. Common themes are pursuing justice, solving crimes, or searching for treasure or missing loved ones. Westerns were popular up to the 1960s, but fell out of favor as America catapulted itself into the space age. In recent years, there’s been a resurgence as classic plots are refreshed for a more cynical and irreverent age. Steampunk, for example, draws as much from Old West style and technology as from Victorian Age England; the terribly written, but sumptuously art directed, Will Smith movie Wild Wild West, with its giant steam-powered tarantula and floofy dance-hall costumes for the villain’s henchwomen, was a seminal influence.

If you’re writing a Western but are stumped for names, here’s some you can use.

Wild West Names


Irma Wells

Pearl King

Frank Hawk

Chicken Dinner Katie

Johnny Ten Feathers

Samuel Savage

Whiskey Emmeline

One-Shot Hezekiah

Henry Carver

Hank Laplante

Two Dollar Kitty

Birdie McClancy

Rusty Savage

Dutch McMurphy


Gypsy Well


Antelope Path

Horsehead City

Devil’s Mile

Sunday Skillet Junction

Cowboy Coffee

Pronghorn Nose

Dog Path

Black Hawk Township

Buzzard Foot

White Horse City

Gringo Pueblo

Mule Spirit


Happy Papoose Ridge

Chinaman Flats

Red Elk Falls

The Devil’s Frying Pan

Thunderbird Spring

Blackbird Summit

Twenty Mile Canyon

Iron Ore Gully

Fool’s Gold Mesa

The Axe Handle Trail

Rattlesnake Heaven

Mormon Ford

Quagmire Spring

White Antelope Valley

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