I did a lot of reading into cowboys and how being a ranch hand works and I seem to have misplaced all my notes so we’ll see how big a fool I make of myself.
Cowboys seemed to be majority black, Hispanic, or Indian. The Mexican vaquero was the original cowboy, and I found some interesting stuff on how longhorns were caught and branded but I’ll focus on the relevant information. The cattle drive primarily started in Texas and worked its way up to railroad stations in Kansas, where they could then be taken to sold to market. Cowboys were usually unemployed in the winter, and their primary job is herding cows. Cattle drives started dying out as more people marked their lands with fences, making it more difficult, and with transportation shifting it made it easier to transport livestock. Cowboys are laborers and if it weren’t for dime novels and wild west shows, they might still be treated as most laborers are.
I made some adjustments. I always had an idea that Gabe came from New Mexico, placing him more in the desert than he would’ve been in Texas. I’ve had a sort of timeline for this story, at least seasons and locations they’re going to so it doesn’t feel too much like they’re randomly going all over the map, but I think my seasons got muddled a little here.
There was a brief stampede in here, and I actually googled how you stop one, which led me to a few first hand accounts of stampedes, and they’re pretty beautiful in a lot of places, my favorite being:
When that match popped, there was a roar like an earthquake and the herd was gone in the wink of an eyelid; just two minutes from the time Curley scratched his match, that wild, crazy avalanche of cattle was running over that camp outfit, two and three deep. But at that first roar, I was out of my bankets, running for my hoss and hollering, “Come on, boys.” with a rising inflection on “boys.” The old hands knew what was coming and were on their hosses soon as I was, but the tenderfeet stampeded their own hosses trying to get onto them, and their hosses all got away except two, and when their riders finally got on them, they took across the hills as fast as they could go out the way of that horded of oncoming wild-eyed demons.
[credited as Cowboy Life on the Sidetrack]
The actual method used to quell the stampede I stole wholesale from the eHow page. I’m so glad I live in a time where I can just google this stuff.
Music played a much bigger part in this chapter, and in planning all of this out this chapter was what sort of pushed me to include more cowboy and folk songs. The first song the cowboys sing is called the Cattle Call, which you can listen to here or here. Abner briefly sings Cool Water, which I recommend listening to here (ignore the 2 minute intro) or here. Gabe and Marie sing Red River Valley to each other, which you can listen to here or here.
O Bury Me Not on That Lone Prairie is actually a fairly famous cowboy song, with Johnny Cash singing a version and even appearing in Red Dead Redemption. I was hunting for a sort of definitive version of this song, since I kind of think of it as the Deadlands theme, but I couldn’t find a version I thought fit (they’re all just a bit too upbeat for me). I recommend those versions though, and perhaps in the future I’ll come across a version I truly love.
The thunderbird appears varyingly in a few indigenous legends, but they seem to be associated with weather and forces of nature, and are wise and seem to be protectors of people. Violetta namedrops a roc as well, another large bird of prey she’d probably be familiar with. The actual thunderbird they came across is not either of those but based on the cryptid creature, who resembles a pteradactyl. Supposedly two cowboys in the 1800s shot down the thunderbird and displayed it by pinning its wings to the far sides of a barn, showing off how large it was. A photograph seems to have surfaced in the 1960s, though I find different accounts of whether or not this photo has ever actually been seen, and I’ve seen various other photos that are not cited well. I’m told by Wikipedia knowledge of the pteradactyl would’ve been able to reach the American west, but I didn’t find any evidence that it was common knowledge (mostly because I didn’t look) so my characters do not have knowledge. Dinosaurs showing up in the old west isn’t an uncommon trope, especially if you read comics. The blog image is the image I most remember seeing in regards to the thunderbird, though I’m not really sure, and fittingly I found this lovely article on thunderbirds and false memory syndrome, which is probably the best explanation for that photograph.