In the frontier towns of the Wild West, men generally outnumbered women at least three to one, and in some mining camps the population could be up to 90% male. In these semi-lawless areas, where everyone carried a gun and vigilante justice was the norm, a woman on her own had to get tough to survive. Many stepped out of traditional roles and became gunslingers, cowgirls, and/or brothel workers.
To assemble a list of some of the Wild West’s most legendary women, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous online sources with a focus on history. We used editorial discretion to assemble the list, based on several factors, including the notoriety of the women, the public’s interest in their stories, and in some cases the crimes they may have been involved in.
Many of these women worked as prоstitutes – a lucrative trade in an area full of single men – and the most successful of them established their own brothels. Others worked as ranchers and homesteaders, while some turned to a life of crime. Often, outlaw women were the partners of infamous gang members, and helped rob trains, banks, and stagecoaches. Other women worked as gamblers and cattle rustlers. (Read about which women went down in history as some of the most infamous gunfighters of the American West.)
While most of these women were known for their beauty and fancy clothing, a few took to dressing like men while performing robberies. No matter their dress, many were known for their shooting skills. (These are the guns that won the Old West.)
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