Wondering about wild grapes

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wondering about the real old time cowboys.

I love cowboy shows and you usually find my TV tuned to the Western channel.  About 99 percent of those shows are just fiction, the figment of a writer's imagination.  The History channel has the more accurate accounts of the old west.  I found a book (yes, at the flea market) titled "Cowboys of the Wild West" by Russell Freedman dated 1985. What made this book special to me is that except for one map and a couple of drawings, this book is stuffed full of actual pictures of real life cowboys. I thought that you may be interested in seeing a few samples of these pictures.

The first thing I am going to show you is a map that shows the trails that the the herds took, mostly to the railroads but also to other destinations.  I knew that the herds went to railroad towns like Dodge City and Abiliene but I didn't know about the other railroad towns and I sure didn't know that they went the whole way up to Fort Buford which is close to Canada.  I learned something from this map and hope you will, too.

This next picture is of the most important part of the trail drive; the chuck wagon.  I suppose the cows came in second. . .

The second most important thing on the trail was the bed rolls.  The movies show cowboys bedding down using their saddle as a pillow and the saddle blanket to lay on.  The real cowboys wanted it a little bit softer.  They had bags filled with feathers, down, and or cotton.  When rolled up, they were too big to carry on the back of their horse, so they were loaded into wagons.

This is a picture of the main street of Dodge City.  It faces the railroad tracks, which was the source of its main income.  Doesn't look like the Dodge City of the TV show where Matt Dillon was marshal, does it?

That era of the trail drives didn't last too long.  One of the reasons that it didn't was barbed wire:

I tend to think that it would be fun to be one of those old time cowboys and take a trail to Dodge City.  In reality, it was hard, dirty, work with long hours and little pay.  What pay they got was usually wasted away in Dodge City or one of the other destinations on wine, women, and song.  Now, get a long little doggies and have a great day, what ever your destination is, you hear?


  1. Just like the days when the loggers would come into town after months in the woods. Their pay was quickly separated from them by in the local bars. My grandfather used to tell me that our city of 20,000 had 33 bars. Those were the official ones. Plenty of drinking and gambling rooms in the back of the corner stores.

    Colorful times back in the day, but a petty hard life.

  2. I spent a few weeks at a clearing in the road next to the American river above Auburn Calif, a gold mining area (this was 1980 or so). Once a month the people living way out (in hidden camps) came in, hitched to Sacramento to sell their gold then came back.
    I remember shopping bags full of ramin soup going back up the river and a big party at the clearing.

  3. On the map, I noticed that the railroads from the cow towns all ran to Chicago.

  4. Read books about all those trail drives, and the huge stock pens along the way.
    In this little town, and not too many years ago, there were 25 operating bars at one time,,town pop, around 3,000. Yep, bar town for sure,,,

  5. Interesting map, I've heard of the Chisholm trail, but not the Goodnight-Loving. Must of come after a ride into town to get liquored-up.

  6. Sixbears, the logging industy created the income for my area for many years. Cut & Shoot was once filled with churches and bars. Now that is a good combination.

    Rob, I like to prospect. Have been to Stanton, AZ a couple of times. It is at the foot of "rich hill" the mountain where the early prospectors were finding potatoe size nuggets. Thus, they nick-named it the potatoe patch. I need to get back to that area.

    Trouble, That was an interesting time, but it didn't last very long.

    Jimkabob, that makes as much sense as any, and here I thought it was named after Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Loving. So, what do I know? (grin)

  7. butterbean carpenterSeptember 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Howdy DD,
    Great article !! Most of the 'cowboys' were just that, BOYS, mostly runaways...
    The 'cow-bosses' didn't pay'em much and if they got killed it wasn't any loss..
    They're buried all over the plains, in unmarked graves...

    As for potatoe(Dan Quail's way of spelling ) size gold nuggets, laying around on the ground as BIG AS HEN EGGS, that's a bunch of BS !!! May have been a piece of quartz as big as a hen egg, but it sure wasn't PURE GOLD !!!!

    1. Most all gold is mixed in with quartz. I have see gold nuggets larger than a golf ball. The ones I found were quite a bit smaller than that.

  8. butterbean carpenterSeptember 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Howdy Jimkabob,

    Jimkabob, the Goodnight-Loving Trail was laid out by Charles Goodnight to sell beef to the Army in Mew Nexico and it was on the second trip, with Oliver Loving that Loving got ambushed by Apaches, wounded and died; LONESOME DOVE is a story of that trip and how Goodnight brought his body back to Weatherford, TEXAS for burial !!!
    Goodnight eventually drove cattle all of the way to Montana & North Dakota to give ranchers up there a start in the business.... He was the main instigator of ranching in the West... After he got'em started the BIG $$$$$ guys began to BUY THE CATTLE and proclaim themselves 'cattlemen' !!!

    Being as how there aren't many 'real' cowboys from The Old Dominion; well, there were back in the Pioneer Days, but mostly they had 'run-away' to become 'cowboys', y'all probably don't know much of the TRUE Western lore... The Chisholm Trail only ran from OKLAHOMA to MISSOURI, about 150 miles; NOT FROM MEXICO TO KANSAS !!! There were many cattle trails to the railroads in Kansas, because the railroads continued to build the tracks Westward; the MOST USED TRAIL was THE WESTERN or GREAT WESTERN, which came through COLEMAN county, TEXAS, where my RunningStar Ranch is located !!!
    A study of the Western lore/history is very interesting and can clear up a lot of BAD history and movie crap...

    Hope this helped you learn more about the Western parts of the USA...


    1. Well, I guess that shoots my theory all to hell. That was very interesting, Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite movies and it's always good to know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey (gee, I miss that guy!)use to say. Thanks. This hillbilly here broke down in Weatherford, Texas in 1971. If it hadn't been for some good folks, I'd probably still be there.

    2. Your welcome Butterbean.

      Hey, Jimkabob, there are a lot of nice people in this world but they never get or want attention.

    3. Butterbean has got is partially correct about the Chisholm trail. It did not extend to Mexico as he correctly says, but it did not extend to Missouri either.
      This is the route that the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center claims was established.
      "Working a deal with the Railroad, McCoy built cattle pens and a new hotel at the railhead in Abilene, Kansas, then hired surveyors to mark a new route back south to Texas. They began with a route almost due south to Wichita, then followed Jesse Chisholm's trade road 220 miles to his trading post on the north Canadian River. From Jesse's trading post, they headed almost due south to Texas to the closest practical Red River crossing along the way, later known as Red River Station."

  9. Goodnight was the trail Gus and Call took up to Montana. Can you imagine? (Lonesome Dove, but you knew that)It's the Western Channel for me, too!

    1. There are also a lot of great true western stories on the History channel. Some times, truth is stranger than fiction.

  10. We've crossed over those various trails in our own travels but this is the first time I've seen a map of the way they all ran. Think I'm gonna have to read up on this subject... way too interesting not to learn more.

    1. I have crossed over all of them also and in multiple times in different areas. Yes, it is a subject that could use some more looking into.