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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Cowpokes: 1901

Cowpokes: 1901

Circa 1901. "A group of Texas cowboys." Including the nattily attired gent from the chuck wagon scene. Photo by William Henry Jackson. View full size.

 

Bony Critters

Some of those cattle are very thin. Their hip bones and ribs are terribly visible. I am not sure why this would be -- perhaps because of the stress of heat or drought or because of a lack of nutrition in the grass.

Texas cattle, taken north, got fat on the nutritious prairie grasses of the Great Plains. Many an enterprising rancher made money on this knowledge, including my own grandfather during the 1930s.

Perfection

Sweet mercy Dave! How perfect is your timing? Completely, as always.

In less than a month and a half, there will be a whole slew of Texas Cowboys decending upon my beloved Houston for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It wouldn't be surprising if there will be a few cowboys and cowgirls akin to these Cowpokes in this lovely photo attending the world's largest Livestock Show and Rodeo. Who knows? Mayhaps this cattle line still exists.

I absolutely adore this picture!

Nattily A. Tired

The ranch owner or maybe the foreman.

Surely Chisholm

I'd bet these wranglers are styling their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. The shirts and (most) pants are clean, and there are no sweat stains about their headbands. The Texas range radiates like an oven, and it appears the steers are hogging the shade.

Cattle drive

Looks like over a thousand head of cattle behind those cowboys. I'm curious why you can't see any guns. They would have to have some Winchester rifles and a few handguns on a long drive it seems. Unless, could it be about no firearms while on their horses so that no shots could be fired while acually driving the cattle. Maybe shots fired could cause a stampede and scatter the whole herd.

A lot of cows to poke

Photographs out in the wild like this were not undertaken as casual snapshots. Possibly Mr. William Henry Jackson arrived on the scene with his developing tent, crew of helpers, large tripod-mounted view camera, and a reputation. I can imagine him directing the "actors" in an event that lasted a fair amount of time. Almost nobody smiles in these old photographs, because having one's likeness preserved for eternity (here we are looking at the image 109 years after it was made) was a serious matter and no one wanted to look silly or insubstantial. This might be the only photograph some of these men would have taken in their entire lives, so it was a sober occasion, hence the crisp white shirts, starched collars, and even a bow tie. It's a wonderful picture - I'm going out to buy a new hat.

[W.H.J. did not just travel with a tent. He had a train. - Dave]

 
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