Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

March 26, 2011

Cowboy hat sighted on First Class passenger on Alaska Airlines flight to Houston

I expected to see plenty of Texans sporting cowboy hats, big belt buckles, and boots, so I wasn’t surprised when I spotted my first cowboy hat on a passenger in First Class on our flight to Houston.  But then the myth was shattered.  It seems that Texans dress like everyone else in America, and cowboy hats are few and far between.

On our drive along back country roads, we saw many cattle grazing — but no cowboys!  We kept our eyes peeled for longhorn cattle, and we found a herd in Washington County near Independence, Texas.

Ranch near Independence, Texas

Texas longhorns

Longhorn and calf

I regret that we didn’t have time to go to a rodeo, so the closest we came to seeing cowboys was at the Ft. Worth Stockyards historical district.  I’m sure that the clothes and horse tack were authentic, but the whole experience felt Disney-fied.  There were any number of things you could spend money on:  riding a mechanical bull, riding a horse-drawn buggy or stagecoach, getting a portrait taken in Western clothes, attending a Wild West show, etc.  But we just looked at the Ft. Worth herd of longhorns, watched them get rounded up, and then watched the re-enactment of a cattle drive down a few blocks of Exchange Street.  It was fun and colorful.

A cowgirl at the Ft. Worth Stockyards. She was happy to answer questions from the tourists.

Detail, hand holding reins

Buggy driver at the Ft. Worth Stockyards

Brand for the Ft. Worth longhorn herd

Longhorns from the Ft. Worth herd

Rounding up the longhorns for the cattle drive

Little cowgirl waiting for the cattle drive to begin

Re-enactment of cattle drive, Ft. Worth Stockyards

Cowboy, Ft. Worth Stockyards

Detail, cowboy boot in stirrup

Re-enactment of cattle drive down Exchange Street

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