Ah, magic! We look for it everywhere and we love to be enchanted. We want to believe that there are amazing cures for all sorts of ailments, that a pill will make us thinner or handsomer or a fancy concoction will make our hair lustrous so that it will always behave. We are born with imaginations and we thrive on mental voyages of fancy. This natural desire has made people venture further and struggle to do more with their lives throughout history. In the late 1800's the traveling medicine shows were at the height of popularity in America. Opportunities abounded and the population was encouraged to partake in a phenomenal expansion across the country. The great railroads were being built with passion and people were heading west into unknown territories. Without doctors and with very few forms of entertainment a traveling troupe of artists, performers and creators of newly “patented” medicines were welcomed nearly everywhere. How exciting to meet people who traversed the great land and brought stories from far distances. But, even more important they had something more valuable. They brought optimism and magic. This is how Snake Oil was born.
Piecrust Promise took us to the Oklahoma land rush and in Ill Repute we explored the gold mines of the Yukon. Whenever I write I research, filling my mind with information and images. For my latest adventure, Snake Oil I wandered through the legends of the traveling medicine show, the early advertising in the old west, the emergence of patented medicine. On the way I met hucksters and con men of the late 1800's. Sometimes I stumbled across unexpected treasures and I really enjoyed incorporating my finds into the tale. Today I'm sharing with you some of the images I gathered while researching Snake Oil. It's a wonderful and delightful collection. I hope you enjoy them!
Although this is a very romanticized version, this lovely wagon inspired the medicine show wagon.
Living in a wagon meant keeping a home on wheels. Can you imagine?
A trusty draft horse or two was all the engine you needed.
For many of the medicine show people of the old west, their wagon served not only as their showplace and shopfront but also their year-around residence. I love the curtains!
In the harsh winters of the northern states a small, but efficient wood stove kept their wagon cozy and was used for cooking too. Notice the bed up behind the driver's seat.
The wheel hub.
The real heart of the wagon's wheels was the hub. They were huge pieces, often made of the hard wood of the black walnut tree. Many of these trees were planted along the trails of the country while the land was being settled. Today black walnut trees grow over most of the United States as a result.
Here's something interesting! The craniometer!
Many medicine shows incorporated interesting gadgets to help them peddle their wares. The use of the unusual "craniometer" is a discovery I made while researching Snake Oil. I could not miss the opportunity to include it in the novel.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of the research I have collected. Snake Oil is available directly from Amazon by clicking on the link below.
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