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The Western Cowboy

In the State of Texas the Western Cowboy can be found home on the range. But can you really find a true western cowboy in the state of Texas? At one time you could find real cowboys in Texas but that time was over one hundred years ago.

Up until the end of the war between the north and the south you could find western cowboys still roaming the range. However the end of this conflict brought many changes to the open range.

The railway was completed to areas of the country that previously did not have a good system of transport. Cities were rebuilt and new cities sprung up around the country. The hard feelings between the north and the south never really disappeared totally. Even today in some parts of the country there are people who still harbor a dislike from the north or the south.

In the later part of the 1860s a new invention devastated the open range. A new type of wire with barbs attached started showing up all over the United States of America. The introduction of this wire began a new type of war in some states. It was known as the range wars.

The barb wire actually pitted neighbor against neighbor, and family members against family members. What was known a free range land where cattle were moved from one location to another was no more.

The cattle men now had to contend with land grabs by farmers and those who wanted their own free range land. Large tracks of land was being fenced off all over the states. As the cattlemen tried to maintain their holdings they would hire bounty hunters to tear out the fences as fast as they were being built. The government made the problem even worse by offering to give free land holdings to any person who was willing to settle the range lands.

Many settlers were killed or removed from the land which they had claimed. Some sold land back to the ranches, but most were not that lucky. The development of the railway which was an excellent mode of transportation to move cattle to the markets, destroyed the need for the long cattle drives. The railway, and the new barb wire fencing had literally wiped out the common cowboy.

This took place over a very short time span of about ten years. Some folks will say that home on the range cowboys have all but disappeared.

There are a lot of large number of working ranches still today with vast tracks of land but many of the best valleys and most fertile land has been purchased by large corporations. The cowboy of today has changed a lot from the cowboy of fifty years ago. The days of driving a thousand head of cattle and horses are long gone and remain only as a legend and a fond memory.

The modern cowboy looks like the western cowboy of the past. Today�s cowboy still uses his horse as did the western cowboy of the State of Texas from bye gone times. But the way he manages his land has changed as have the cattle drives.

If one takes a moment to stand on the range and listen carefully you might hear the thunder of hoofs and the call of the western cowboy off in the distance, and experience a glimpse of our past.

by Tom Strayhorn

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