The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

abroad. The image of the hard-driving cowboy herding longhorn cattle across the
dry, dusty prairie has fascinated the American consciousness. That image also in-
cludes the ranches and the powerful cattle barons who founded those immense
domains-men such as Richard King, Charles Goodnight, and John Chisum.
The ranching culture resulted from the fusion of the traditions of the Spanish
vaquero and the Anglo herdsman on the coastal plains of South Texas. They
molded a way of life that spread throughout the West and, over a brief twenty-
year span, moved northward along the Chisholm Trail to the railheads of
Kansas, through Olegalla, into Wyoming and Montana. The cattlemen followed
the Goodnight-Loving Trail westward into New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.
By the latter half of the nineteenth century, foreign investors and Eastern syndi-
cates scrambled to participate in the "Cattle Bonanza," buying or establishing
the vast ranches such as the Swan,JA, and, largest of all, the XIT Ranch.
The ranch became the home and central workplace of the cowboy and his em-
ployer. Many ranch houses were immense luxurious structures while others were
modest cabins. The headquarters also contained barns, corrals, bunkhouses, and
numerous other structures that reflected vigorous and often lonely lives. Surpris-
ingly, many of these old spreads have continued in operation and most of the
original ranch headquarters have remained intact while various historical orga-
nizations have preserved others. Scattered throughout the book are both old
and new photographs of these ranch buildings, headquarters, cowboys, and cat-
tle barons. Interspersed are small vignettes on related topics such as barbed
wire, statistics, anecdotes, and personalities.
Powerful cattle barons, range wars, trail drives, longhorn cattle, bucking bron-
cos, and hard-riding cowboys are all part of the popular culture of the West. Bill
O'Neal, the popular Western writer, has chosen to center his book on the great
ranches and the larger-than-life cattlemen who defined the era. O'Neal and his
wife, a professional photographer, traveled for years to old ranch sites collecting
information and anecdotes, which they present in this book.
The author has begun his book where the cowboy was born-in the Nueces
River valley now occupied by the King Ranch. He traveled north along the cattle
trails into the Texas Panhandle, through Nebraska, to the Canadian border.
Along the way he visited most of the major historical ranches and a few smaller,
often overlooked spreads, such as "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Scout Rest Ranch. In all,
O'Neal has given the historical origins and destinies of fifty-six ranches in twelve
states. Although his writing style is informal, the book contains a wealth of detail
and facts, particularly about the current status of the old ranch sites. The reader
will enjoy his trip through these fabled empires of the Old West.
Fort Worth, Texas WATSON C ARNOLD
Daggett: Life zn a Mojave Frontier Town. By Dix Van Dyke, edited by Peter Wild.
(Baltimore and London:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Pp. xii+188.
List of illustrations, acknowledgments, introduction, epilogue, select bibli-
ography, index. ISBN 0-8018-5625-6. $22.95, cloth).



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 30, 2016.

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