3 Stories that Shaped the Wild West
The history of Western America is a long and storied one, filled with moments of growth, exploration, and innovation that have shaped the cultural landscape of the United States into what it has become today. While every era of the West has left its lasting mark, here are a few particular stories from the 1800s that have had an impact that’s still widely visible.
To find out more about this exciting era of America, check out a book titled Out Where the West Begins, authored by Philip F. Anschutz.
Presented by: Cloud Camp Press
1. The Inspiring Tale of Master Brewer, Adolph Coors
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last century, you’re probably quite familiar with a brand of beer called Coors. They’ve advertised seemingly everywhere for decades and can be found anywhere from the upscale bar to the college frat house. However, how Coors Brewing Company got to be the industry giant that it is today is a story worth telling.
“My grandfather, Adolph Coors, never thought backward, only forward,” says William Kistler Coors in Out Where the West Begins. Adolph Coors did this as a means of moving on from various tragedies in his life, able to separate himself from the struggle and grief in order to keep looking ahead toward improving his beer until it was the best around.
Adolph grew up the son of a miller in Germany, but his life drastically changed in his teens when he was orphaned by his parents’ deaths. His tumultuous story continued when he faced being drafted into the Prussian Army, deciding to flee to America instead.
Heading to the land of opportunities ended up being the right call, as he first found a home in Chicagoland, where he was able to gain experience in a brewery prior to launching his life to Denver via the new transcontinental railroad. A year later, Coors Brewing Company was born and the rest was history.
Today, the story of Adolph Coors lives on in the minds of many young entrepreneurs, exemplifying a true rags-to-riches story. A poor, orphaned immigrant turned business tycoon, the brand Adolph Coors built is one that is synonymous with the American West.
2. The Massive Amount of Philanthropy from Carnegie
The richest man in America when he passed away, Andrew Carnegie is viewed as a titan of the industry by most, with a reputation of doing whatever it takes to make the profit margin larger and best known for his work with steel. However, there’s a side to Carnegie that few hear about – his philanthropy. He gave back a good portion of his wealth to those less fortunate, helping to set an example for wealthy philanthropists that operate in the business world today, like Bill Gates.
While Carnegie helped invent the structure of American big business, he also helped create the model for corporate philanthropy, as detailed in the book Out Where the West Begins. During his time as a business tycoon, he opened more than 2,000 libraries, endowed multiple universities, gave money for scholarships, and helped pay teachers’ pensions. By the time all was said and done, it was estimated that approximately 90% of Carnegie’s wealth went to “worthy causes.”
During this time, Carnegie also published an essay titled “The Gospel of Wealth,” which put pressure on the affluent to live and operate in a way that was socially responsible, encouraging them to give back to those in need instead of keeping their wealth to themselves.
A pioneer of industrial America that had a way of thinking differently about the world, Carnegie set a standard for giving back, something that continues to be prevalent among big business today.
3. The Fashion Sense of Levi Strauss
Perhaps the most American thing ever invented, the blue jean continues to rock the nation as a practical and fashionable product used in the everyday lives of many Americans. What many people don’t know is how big the impact of Levi Strauss’ creation was – stretching far beyond clothing to impacting the entire business world in a way that’s still obvious today.
During the mining boom and for a period of industrial growth that followed, a fabric called “duck,” became popular. It was a heavy and durable cotton canvas, often used in situations where rugged fabric was needed – wagon covers and work clothes. The owner of a retail shop that catered to the common man, Levi Strauss sold this, but he also sold denim – a less technical and more comfortable cotton blend. Eventually, Strauss teamed up with a skilled tailor that was using his fabric, bringing his acute attention for quality control into the picture – and his blue jeans exploded in popularity from there.
Due to a focus on creating a long-lasting, consistent, and high-quality product, Strauss was able to quickly make a name for himself in the clothing industry. If you were buying Levi’s, you were buying a product that was worth talking about and a product that you’d likely have for a long time.
This focus on quality and the finer details of a product became two things that Levi Strauss was known for. He also made sure to emphasize his brand reputation, ensuring people that if they were buying Levi, they wouldn’t regret their purchase. His attention to the product also resulted in him being very protective of his intellectual property, something that helped to pave the way for how innovators and companies look at protecting their own creations today.
From branding to quality control to intellectual property protection, the legacy of Levi Strauss has been long-lasting, paving the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs.