In 1969, Las Vegas author and illustrator Michael Schall Johnson was pulling a telephone pole out of the Cheyenne River for the Mountain States Telephone company. As he winched the pole up a 30-foot cliff and dug it a new hole, he dreamed that he might dig up a strong box hidden by a gang of desperadoes. Now retired, Johnson revisited the area in his novel “The Bloody Road of Gold: Calamity, Wild Bill, Boone May, Courage and Romance in the Old West.” The book, which Johnson describes as “myths and truths intertwined,” follows Jack Neuman, a young man orphaned as a teen on his quest to discover the West. Visit mickeymade.com.
His childhood was an angry one, and he took his anger out on those close to him. He seemed only to be able to find comfort in life by taking off into the Minnesota woods for days at a time to hunt and fish and be by himself. Only Heather, the young daughter of one family who’d taken him in, was able to console him, and better yet, make him laugh. She had looked up to him and admired him, no matter how badly he’d act toward her parents, but he didn’t stay long with them either. After he left their home, he would sneak around to be with Heather, but when he turned fifteen and told her he’d decided he’d had enough of Minnesota and wanted to go West for adventure, he didn’t realize he’d broken her heart.