The Cowboy of the "WILD WEST" remains one of the worlds greatest icons. Perhaps much of this legendary status can be credit to Dime Novels and Hollywood movies that often portray the Cowboy on the western frontier as a ruthless gunman or the heroic lawman. Though, in fact most Cowboys were merely hard working men of all ages. Men looking for an opportunity to earn a good wage who were not afraid to endure the elements of being a cowboy.
The gun was a necessary tool out west. It was not just for outlaws or lawmen. It helped aid with hunting, protection from dangerous predators including becoming easy prey to ill-meaning humans. It was a necessary tool yet rarely used on the trail drives.
In the famous 1880 photo from the Library of Congress, a Cowboy is photograph with his essential tools of the trade. Although, the photo does not show him working cattle at the time. It does show the cowboy sporting a wide brim hat, his bandanna tied around his neck, bedroll and slicker and lariat tied to the saddle. Likely, this cowboy was working the range as he carries both rifle and pistol.
Unlike holsters of the early western movies worn low off the hip and strung around the thigh for quick draw, the early cowboy wore full size holsters high on the waste. Often, the hammer rest on an empty cylinder as a safety precaution to prevent accidental firing.
|1880 Cowboy Photo Courtesy Library of Congress|