Friday 20 February 2015

Old West Photo Friday: Cowboys shoot down a Thunderbird

My regular readers know that weird legends from the Old West are one of my favorite topics, and that includes the fabulous Thunderbird. This giant critter supposedly flew the skies of the frontier, scaring Native Americans and cowboys alike until one was supposedly shot down near Tombstone, Arizona. There was an article in the 26 April 1890 edition of the Tombstone Epitaph about two cowboys shooting a creature with leathery wings like a bat and a head like an alligator. They dragged it back to town and nailed it up to a barn, its wingspan covering the barn's entire length.

I've written about the Thunderbird before, and how photos of the beast have become an obsession with cryptozoologists. Several photos claiming to be of the Tombstone creature circulate around the Internet, along with several more showing Civil War soldiers bagging flying monsters, as well as this more modern shot that looks like it's from the mid-twentieth century. Sadly, while there are so many Thunderbird photos, no one seems to have an actual Thunderbird stuck up on their wall.

For more on this crazy story, see my posts on pterodactyl sightings in America and another photo of cowboys with a pterodactyl. I also wrote about it in my new booklet, The Weird Wild West: Tall Tales and Legends about the Frontier.

While I'm careful to use only public domain photos in this blog, I'm not sure this one is. If it's really as old as it appears, then it's public domain. It could simply be an old fake. If it's modern, then I'm in breach of copyright, but the only way the creator could sue me is if they admitted faking the photo! I'll take that chance. :-)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And if it's an old fake, then that's really impressive.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Old fake? Isn't that the correct term for most congressmen? It does look impressive though!

Kevin said...

It's a fake. The artist removed the dead deer hanging from the ropes and replaced them with a pterodactyl. However, they forgot to remove some deer legs from between the third and fourth hunters from the left!

Unknown said...

We're going to have to start calling you eagle eye! Very good observation

Unknown said...

See "Inca Stones" ! Small Inca men snuck up on massive birds (40 ft. wing span) and jumped on their backs ..taking them gor a ride ! Believe it!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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