written by Kevin Jarre, directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre (uncredited), cinematography William Fraker
starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Dana Delaney, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Thomas Haden Church, Stephen Lang, Michael Rooker, Robert Burke, John Corbett, Joanna Pacula, billy Bob Thorton, Jason Priestley, Billy Zane and Charlton Heston
“Doc was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a gun that I ever knew.”
Okay I’ll admit I was a bit shocked but now that it’s had a moment to sink in I have so much more respect for her. She was a non-white woman in the 1800s who got murdered because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then she gets dragged back and forth from hell and becomes this badass feminist scholar. And all of a sudden she’s hanging out with the heir who may or may not be carrying her boyfriends child and she’s just trying her best and oh my gosh.
So I’m a map fiend. I love maps. Any time someone pulls out a map, I am THERE. So when I noticed Waverly pull out a map on a rewatch of Season 1, Episode 3…
I was all over it.
So we know from Season 1, Episode 1 that the show takes place in Canada, as a conversation between Wynonna and Dolls tells us that as a U.S. Marshal he’s out of his jurisdiction, and that he’s on a cross-border task force. We can tell which province from the blurred out license plates on the cars - the red letters and numbers indicate an Alberta license plate. Luckily for production, Alberta does not require license plates on the front of vehicles, so as long as you shoot from the front no one will notice - but we get the odd glimpse.
So what can we do with Waverly’s map? We can locate Purgatory itself, and understand the full extent of the Ghost River Triangle.
Glad I’m not you, Wynonna.
My first estimation was that Calgary, as the biggest city close to the border, was ‘The Big City,’ as Waverly has labelled it. This was backed up by the highway patterns. From there I used Cranbrook, Calgary, Canmore, and the U.S. border as my references to superimpose the maps and make them match up and create the border of the Ghost River Triangle.
However, we’re missing a piece in the top right corner. Following the lines of the border, I was able to figure out the full extent of the Triangle. And still using Waverly’s map, we’re able to guess at the location of Purgatory.
Now, Waverly’s map isn’t the clearest on the precise location - her markers are too large and don’t pinpoint places neatly. But I placed it there for three primary reasons:
1) The locale. I placed Purgatory at the location of Ozada, an old prisoner of war camp from WWII, which has the vibes of a ghost town, as well as looking similar to Purgatory in the show. Ozada is also right by the Bow River, which feeds off of Ghost Lake - Ghost Lake is fed by Ghost River from the north.
2) In Season 1, Episode 1, Wynonna is on a bus line, ‘Bluntline,’ which is driving out West, presumably across Canada. Wynonna asks her fellow rider Kiersten if this is her first time out west, and it is - as such it’s a national bus line, not a local one, and is likely based off of Greyhound. We know from Waverly’s map that Purgatory is just north-west of Calgary, so they would be taking Highway 1, but it has to be within walking distance for Wynonna to make it there for Curtis’ funeral after she gets off the bus.
3) In Season 1, Episode 3, Dolls tells Sheriff Nedley that it would take an hour for a tactical team to arrive from the city - Ozada is approximately one hour out of Calgary.
And going from there: did Wyatt Earp ever get up to the Ghost River Triangle? The answer is no. Wyatt did travel throughout the U.S., from being born in Illinois and moving to California, then mostly spending his years working through Kansas, Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, Washington, then settling for the rest of his years in Los Angeles. In 1885, Wyatt was as close to Purgatory as he’d ever get, in Chewelah, Washington - logically that would be when he went north, but we can tell from Season 1, Episode 4 that Wyatt Earp rode to Purgatory when Doc Holliday’s health was failing. Historically, Doc was in Denver at the time of the last meeting in 1886, so Wyatt would have had to head north in 1886 - his exact whereabouts at that time are uncertain.
So now we know - while Wyatt Earp got to live it up to the age of 80 in Los Angeles, hob-nobbing with celebrities while working as a consult for Western films at the time, the revenants were stuck in the icy cold Albertan winters at the base of the Rockies.
On this day, October 26, in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, at about 3:00 pm local time, there was a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. A 30-second shootout between lawmen and members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys.
It is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West. The gunfight was the result of a long-simmering feud, with Cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury on one side and town Marshal Virgil Earp, Special Policeman Morgan Earp, Special Policeman Wyatt Earp, and temporary policeman Doc Holliday on the other side.
All three Earp brothers had been the target of repeated death threats made by the Cowboys, who objected to the Earps’ interference in their illegal activities. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed. Ike Clanton claimed that he was unarmed and ran from the fight, along with Billy Claiborne. Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday were wounded, but Wyatt Earp was unharmed. The shootout has come to represent a period of the American Old West when the frontier was virtually an open range for outlaws, largely unopposed by law enforcement officers who were spread thin over vast territories.