The American Cowboy – 1890

A lull in the fight.

A lull in the fight.

The heyday of the American cowboy only covered about 20 years, from 1880 to 1900. That’s when the long drives to the railheads were made. Before the railroads were established in the West there was no efficient way of getting large herds of cattle to the East and the market demand for beef. By 1900 the influx of farmers, the proliferation of barbed wire fencing, and the increasing number of railroads made the long drives not just  uneccessary, they were physically impossible. The modern image of the cowboy is loosely based on the drovers that made the three month long drives to the railheads and then proceeded to tear the town up when they arrived. The drovers and the everyday working ranch hand were far different characters and there were many differences in their clothing, horse gear, and working skills which my presentations cover in detail.

The cowboy most people are familiar with today is purely a Hollywood creation. A fantasy with the prime purpose of getting you to purchase a ticket to see a movie. On the other hand, even an old dyed-in-the-wool history buff like me will buy a movie ticket to watch Tom Selleck or Robert Duval blow a bad guy away. It’s darned good entertainment. However, my preference just happens to be the real cowboys and I am well aware of the difference between “reel cowboys” and “real cowboys“. I do have to say, however, it is my personal opinion that in the late 1960s feeding frenzy of westerns the TV series “The High Chaparral” probably came the closest to portraying what Southwest ranch life was probably like in the 1870s in that it portrayed the unique interaction between the Americans and Mexicans along the Southwestern border.

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Published on October 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm  Comments Off on The American Cowboy – 1890  
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