In the west US it was possible to buy a horse for as little as $10, but a decent riding equine cost around $150, with a range of $120 (1861) to $185 (1865). A pack horse for the Oregon Trail cost $25 in the US in 1850, but a riding horse would run you $75.
On average, horses cost $60, pigs $5, milking cows just over $20, and goats only $2. A farm worker earned $23 per month, a place to sleep, and meals. I took these prices from my great great… grandfather’s almost-daily journal entries for the year 1872.
The Colt 1860 cost approximately $20 per revolver. This was rather expensive during the 1860s, both for the United States Army and private citizens. Colt had been criticized for this high price, and by 1865 the revolver was reduced to $14.50.
An average workhorse to be used around the farm or ranch would also go for $150. A fine saddle horse would cost more—about $200. Harnesses for the oxen or workhorse would go for $50 or so.
In other words, $1 in 1860 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $31.22 in 2020, a difference of $30.22 over 160 years.
Value of $1 from 1860 to 2020.Cumulative price change3,021.70%Price difference ($1 base)$30.22CPI in 18608.300CPI in 2020259.101Inflation in 18600.00%
A four-room house in most eastern cities ran about $4.50 per month. Outside of the city, land cost around $3 to $5 an acre. Then, as now, a lot of a household’s budget went to food.
In 1900 you could get a good, solid horse for about $150 and an old nag for as little as $10. An unskilled laborer made about $20 a week and skilled laborer made double that.
Two eggs, fried or boiled, accompanied by the invariable boiled potato, fetch from 10 to 15 cents; steak 15 cents; sirloin, 25 cents; plain omelet, 25 cents; tea or coffee, 5 cents; pies and puddings from 5 to 10 cents.”
Wholesale prices for cattle reached a heart-stopping $6.47 per hundredweight in May 1870— meaning an 850-pound steer went for $55.
“People were allowed to own guns, and everyone did own guns [in the West], for the most part,” says Winkler. “Having a firearm to protect yourself in the lawless wilderness from wild animals, hostile native tribes, and outlaws was a wise idea.
Various guns were used, until a true dueling pistol was officially standardized in 1777, as “a 9 or 10 inch barreled, smooth bore flintlock of 1 inch bore, carrying a ball of 48 to the pound.” Often lavishly decorated, the pistols are made until dueling falls out of favor in the mid-1800s.
Revolvers were a popular weapon to gunfighters who were horsemen, cowboys, and lawmen because of their concealability and effectiveness on horseback. The Winchester rifle was also a popular weapon among gunfighters. Dubbed the “Gun that Won the West”, it was widely used during the settlement of the American frontier.
Colt Single Action Army Revolver