10. Western films are often misleading
Most films known as westerns are fictional accounts, even those which purport to be historical or biographical. Yet they still contain elements of how life really evolved in the American west. One stereotypical element of western films – the saloon – really did emerge as a central location of western towns and cities. Arguably the most important citizen of emerging towns, the blacksmith, is another cliché of western movies. Blacksmiths shoed horses, repaired the iron rims of wagon wheels, and the implements needed by farmers to tend to their fields. Stagecoaches connected the western cities and towns before the Civil War, supplemented by trains afterward.
During the 1950s Warner Brothers produced several westerns for television, including Maverick, Lawman, Sugarfoot, and others. Although the stories were entirely fiction, many of the presentations of life in the west were accurate. The west crawled with drifters, con-men, professional gamblers, prostitutes, as well as cow-hands, farmers, salesmen (known as drummers) and many others. The occupation not as prevalent as depicted in western films and television programs were professional gunfighters. Later westerns distorted history thoroughly. Bonanza, for example, featured lever-action rifles like the Winchester 73 in episodes which were set before or during the American Civil War, before the gun was produced.