The Gold Rush West was dotted with mining boomtowns and bustling new cities that sprang up overnight around strikes. Fortunes were made and lost daily, lawlessness was commonplace, and gambling dens, saloons, brothels, and dance halls thrived, but after a while the miners and merchants began to long for more polished amusements. Soon, theatres popped up in tents and then auditoriums and playhouses were built where operas, arias, and Shakespeare were performed by brave actors, dancers, singers, and daredevils who were lured by the call of the West.
Many of the most popular women entertainers of the mid-and late-1800s performed in the boomtowns that dotted the West, drawn by the same desire for riches that took miners and merchants there, and bringing a variety of talents and programs. Though they were sometimes literally showered with gold, their personal lives were often marked by tragedy and unhappiness. These stories reveal the entertaining side, but also some of the hardship of the American West.
Chris Enss is an author, scriptwriter and comedienne who has written for television and film, and performed on cruise ships and on stage. She has worked with award-winning musicians, writers, directors, producers, and as a screenwriter for Tricor Entertainment, but her passion is for telling the stories of the men and women who shaped the history and mythology of the American West. Some of the most famous names in history, not to mention film and popular culture, populate her books. She’s written or co-written more than two dozen books for TwoDot. She lives in Grass Valley, California.