In the late s, the prospects in the western part of the United States drew thousands of new residents yearly, seeking to stake their claim on unexplored, undeveloped territories. Over a century ago, however, moving wasn't as easy as calling up for a U-Haul and putting down a deposit on a new apartment. Along the way to Utah, Colorado, California and the like were bandits, giant swatches of nothingness, and natives of the land not eager to give way to new settlers.
Photo by Alvin Jornada. Lonesome Cowboy Ranch frontman Robert Barnhart, left, talks with customer Brenda Castaneda who came in looking for a western-style shirt for her mother similar to one she saw in the window display at Lonesome Cowboy Ranch in Boyes Hot Springs. Located along a busy corridor of Highway 12 in Boyes Hot Springs — not down some dusty dirt road as its name implies — Lonesome Cowboy Ranch nearly defies description.
Times sure have changed. The American cowboy is an icon of grit, honor, independence and masculinity. Hard work, long days, and little pay except for the open sky, a horse to ride, a hot meal and a drink or two to wet your whistle.
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Before the Mexican-American War concluded inAmerican traders who traveled to the Western frontier encountered Spanish vaqueros of northern Mexico. The arrival of railroads and an increased demand for beef during the Civil War drove the need for the cowboy. The earliest known photographs of these iconic Americans are tintypes, taken as early as the s, most likely captured during a trail drive or at an end-of-trail town. Indeed the life he is daily compelled to lead calls for the existence of the highest degree of cool calculating courage…the cowboy is as chivalrous as the famed knights of old.
The love that people have for horses has existed for generations. While nowadays it might be simple to take a quick selfie with your four hooved best friend, back in the day it was a luxury to have any photo taken, let alone one with your horse accompanying you. Putting on your finest gown to pose with those you cherish most is a truly amazing moment to capture.