Palisade Nevada

The content below is from Episode 131 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you watch Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
    • Anime fans and Cyberpunk video game fans are FREAKING out over Netflix’s new animated addition to the Cyberpunk franchise.
    • The game came out with some controversy because the producers of the game knowingly released an unfinished and majorly flawed game… but still charged full price.
      • That being said the game was ambitious. It drops the player into this expansive dystopian future where technology is EVERYTHING.
      • I personally have never played the game, but I have seen videos.
    • Now, this show comes out and everyone is loving it. 100% on rotten tomatoes.
      • Here’s a summary: A street kid tries to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future; with everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner: a mercenary outlaw, also known as a cyberpunk.
      • First episode date: September 13, 2022
  • Please note that this show has some VERY mature content. Lots of violence and sexual content. But it is all to put you, the viewer, into this fantastic world of CyberPunk


  • What do you suppose was the most dangerous town in the old wild west?
    • Dodge City?
    • Tombstone?
    • Nope, it was Palisade, Nevada… at least for a short while that is.
  • Located right on the Central Pacific Railroad, Palisade was known far and wide for having streets that flowed red with blood. As passengers passed by on the railroad they would witness all sorts of calamity play out right before their eyes!
    • But if one took the time to stay awhile, get to know the town and its people, they would find it was quite a nice place to live… how could that be?
    • Well you see, money was tight in this po-dunk tumbleweed town. So the residents had a hot idea one day, why not give the people what they want! This idea culminated in America’s… possibly the world’s first Theme Park
    • Each time a train would pass by, dropping off passengers or even holding onto its passengers (sort of as a moving audience) the townsfolk would put on a show.
    • Elaborate gunfights, robberies, public executions (this is the wild west so that means Hangin’s!).
    • The shows were a parody of what their fellow western towns actually faced each day.
    • It may not ahve lasted long, but awhile, the people of Palisade created a unique tourist attraction for anyone seeking adventure and danger in the wild west.

The Sleepy Town of Palisade Was Considered By Some Historians To Be The First Theme Park

  • The town had all the locals in on the bit. It wasn’t long after the trans-continental railroad was finished that the towns people started putting on their shows.
    • The first Palisade spectacle took place in 1876. Ever since, theme parks have used Palisade’s shows as a blueprint on how to portray the wild west. There were mock gunfights with stunt men firing blanks and cueing the next stunt man to fall off of his horse.
    • This tradition is carried out today in parks like the Six Gun Territory in Ocala Florida, Old Tuscon in Tuscon Arizona, and Fronteir Town, and Fronteir Town in Ocean City Maryland
      • A childhood friend of mine’s family would take me to Fronteir Town every summer. I’ve seen wild west shows like these lol. They are corny as hell but certainly fun.
The nostalgia is REAL! lol

The Hoax Was Inspired By People’s Appetite For Wild West Experiences And BoredomPhoto: William DeVeny / Wikimedia Commons / No Known Copyright Restrictions

  • The motivation to put on such shows was a combination of a few things. Folks from the railroad were overheard saying how they never saw a real gunfight and wish they could, and the town’s main source of revenue had dried up.
    • Palisade was a thriving mining community until the mine wasn’t profitable anymore. This was a common occurrence in mining communities. The town’s economy had become reliant on the mine to keep it going. But unlike other mining communities on hard times, the people of Palisade refused to give up.
    • Pretty soon visitors/tourists started showing up in droves causing a boom in the local economy. Officially no one knew the town was putting on a hoax. They all thought it was real and Palisade the most dangerous place in America… but in reality it was one of the safest and most inclusive.

The Acts Of Aggression Were All A Hoax By Townspeople For The Tourists Who Came In Via Train

  • Frank West and Alvin Kittleby were the first to put on a show. Frank said to Alvin “There you are! You low-down polecat! I’ve been waiting for you. Imma going to kill you for what you did to my sister!”
    • And like a live soap opera with six shooters, the fight was on.
    • Not only did the townspeople enthusiastically participate in these mock fights, but the local Native American tribes and railroad workers often joined in as well. Their contributions were often impromptu.
    • As the train approached, men, women, and children took their places, readying for their roles. Women cried and men carried off their targets as scared onlookers ducked under seats and hid behind rail cars, terrified for their lives. 
  • It was known as the Toughest Town West of Chicago because the townspeople would perform every day except Sundays.
    • As more and more railway passengers witnessed Palisade’s fights the news spread East to the largely populated cities like New York and Philadelphia.
    • Newspapers caught wind of this hearsay sweeping through their cities and began to publish articles about daily brawls, gun deaths, and all-around lawlessness… little did they know it was all a show.
    • So what started out as a town full of bored people looking to bring in a few more railway passengers with stories of dangerous wild west adventure, soon became a nationally recognized destination.

The Hoax Lasted Three Profitable Years

  • Originally Palisade was established as a mining community and connected to the Central Pacific Railroad as a remarkable transportation hub. Only known by the railroad because there weren’t many other places to stop for rest and resources nearby.
    • The town had only been founded in 1866 and by fall of 1876 the first staged duels were kicking off.
    • For a time, All the people traveling from San Francisco and Chicago either stopped or road right on past Palisade.
  • The duels and robberies were the most common shows, but Palisade also put on shows of hangings and fake Native American invasions of the towns.
    • The people of Palisade would pay local Tribes to invade them or to be bound and hogtied right on the railroad platform. They would bound them hand and foot and have a nasty looking guard stand by his bound body.
    • The town even went so far as to load their shotguns, rifles, and revolvers with gunpowder (with no projectile) and fire makeshift blanks at each other AND the railway passengers as soon as they got off the train.
    • They gave the show shock value! LOL Passengers were often seen running right back to the train for shelter, while others stayed for the excitement.
    • From The : Nevada historian Dan Ashbaugh noted that when “[s]hooting commenced in all directions, ‘victims’ falling everywhere… Passengers screamed with terror and ran for safe spots.” They took refuge behind – or under – train cars. Ashbaugh also pointed out, however, “None of the passengers ever seemed to notice that the victims were quickly carried over to Johnson’s Saloon, where they miraculously recovered and could watch the last act.”

Local Tribes And Railroad Workers Were Also Involved And Helped With The ReenactmentsPhoto: U.S. Army Signal Corps / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

  • There was a local tribe known as the Shoshone Tribe that worked directly with the Palisade townsfolk and railway staff. Together they would all stage massacres with men, women, and children being fake stabbed and fake scalped.
    • But everyone involved was very good at what they did. No injuries or deaths were caused by the shows. This town was so safe they didn’t even have a Sheriff because there was no need for one. The community was very close-knit and they all watched out for each other.
    • Now in order for the show to be believable they needed blood and fake blood hadn’t been invented yet… so they used real blood from the local slaughterhouse!
      • The first fake Blood was manufactured by a retired British pharmacist, John Tinegate or Tynegate, during the 1960s and 1970s, in the village of Abbotsbury, Dorset. Many varieties of blood, having various degrees of viscosity, shades and textures, were available.
    • These events could last up to 10 minutes and GALLONS of cattle blood was poured over adults and children who had been fake stabbed or shot by faux ruffians or tribes.
    • I think it is rather wholesome to hear that Native Americans and settlers worked together in a roadside theater show LOL. I mean, there must have been some friendships that came out of this 3-year long theme park.
Palisade Is Now Nothing More Than A Ghost Town
Palisade today
  • The town thrived when the new railway station was built in 1882. This station was where the Central Pacific and Eureka-Palisade lines met, it was a hub for people to meet from all over. And later the Western Pacific Railroad started making stops at Palisade.
    • The nearby town of Eureka had a thriving mine for awhile and things were looking up. But then the mining and extraction industry started to take a nose dive.
    • The Mines had the supply, but demand was waning. Plus there had been lots of floods in the area making mining work more expensive.
    • Both Eureka and Palisade ceased to exist. In 1961 the Palisade post office was shut down.
    • Today the town of Palisade, Nevada is a ghost town.
    • In the wake of abandonment, Palisade remained in the hands of John Sexton, former head of the obsolete Eureka-Palisade Railroad. Sexton’s descendants sold Palisade, Nevada, at auction in 2005 to an anonymous buyer. The unidentified new owner paid $150,000 for the town. According to the Sexton heir, also named John, “My mother would shoot me if she knew what I’d done, but that’s all right… my daughter needs to go to college… Palisade will pay for about three years’ worth.”
      • Sad it’s a ghost town, happy that it was sold by a good dad.