Legend has it that Abraham Lincoln’s father would stand outside his cabin door and count the neighboring chimneys giving off smoke, when the number reached seven, it was time for the family to move west again. Most historians believe that the American west was not settled in a leap frog manner, with Easterners migrating past the western settlers to grab new land as it came available, but was instead explored and settled by a small number of pioneers who, as civilization would press on them, would consistently pushed further and further west into the wilderness. This small group of pioneers possessed a particular spirit of rugged individualism and self reliance that David Milch tries to bring alive in Deadwood.

In the following scene, two pioneers with such a spirit are watching the construction of a telegraph system into their mining camp.

From Deadwood, Season II, Episode 1, “A Lie Agreed Upon.” David Milch

Al: Messages from invisible sources, or what some people think of as progress.

Dan:  Well ain’t the heathens used smoke signals all through recorded history?

Al: How’s that a fucking recommendation?

Dan: Well … seems to me like letters posted one person to another is just a slower version of the same idea.

Al: When was the last time you got a fucking letter from a stranger?

Dan: Bad news about Pa.

Al: Bad news! Tries against our interests is our sole communications from strangers, so by all means lets plant polls all across the country, festoon the cocksucker with wirers to hurry the sorry word and blinker our judgments and motive, Uh?

Dan: You’ve given it more thought than me.

Al:  Ain’t the state of things cloudy enough that we face enough fucking imponderables?

Dan: Well by God, you give the word Al, and them polls will be kindling.