Category Archives: The British in the West


IMG_1890One of the highlights of my recent cross-country road trip was Estes Park, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. And how could it not be a highlight? Here is scenery that both inspires and excites in a corner of Colorado once called the ‘Switzerland of America.’ One of several wide valleys at around 8,000 feet, which include North Park, Middle Park, South Park, and Winter Park, FullSizeRender-18Estes Park itself was renowned for its beauty. Continue reading

Little England in Iowa: The Close Colony

While researching the background for my historical western romance, Loveland, I came upon some interesting stories of the British aristocracy in America in the late 1800s.  One that captured my imagination is the story of the Close Colony, a settlement in northwest Iowa around the LeMars area. This was projected as being for British gentlemen farmers who might live as landed gentry in the American mid-west. While the thought of British aristocrats living in Iowa may seem a bit incongruous to our contemporary sense of place, coming to unplowed soil on the American prairie, and owning huge tracts of land as gentlemen farmers, was not so unappealing to the second sons of noblemen who would not be inheriting their father’s wealth. Continue reading

Pearl of the Prairies: The Cheyenne Club

Sometime in my youth, The Cheyenne Club entered my consciousness via my viewing diet of western television programs .   It was therefore no surprise that this bastion of privilege and luxury, and  sometime-home to the British ranchers who had invaded Wyoming, would make an appearance in my western historical novel which deals with the very large ranches run by aristocratic Brits.

In the 1880s, Cheyenne, Wyoming, was reputedly the wealthiest city on earth on a per capita basis.  Conveniently located on the transcontinental railroad system, it proved an ideal spot to establish a gentleman’s club catering not only to the British aristocrats that were now there, but also to the cattle barons, railroad magnates, industrial giants and political movers and shakers within its reach.  Set up to rival the Corkscrew Club in Denver, which admitted only foreign noblemen, the Cheyenne Club was originally called The Cactus Club, but the name was soon changed.  It was built in 1880 with specifications that would rival any London club. There were two grand staircases, tennis courts, wine vaults, a grand piano, reading, billiard, dining and smoking rooms.  Rooms were paneled throughout with hardwood floors overlaid with Turkish carpets, and had tiled fireplaces displaying Shakespeare quotations.  Continue reading