28TH ANNUAL COWBOY GATHERING

The grandfather of all cowboy gathering events will be held at Elko, Nevada from January 30 to February 4.

For the last 27 years cowboys, ranchers, rural and urban people have traveled to this small high desert community.

This year’s event will focus on the southwestern United States.  To get more information visit www.westernfolklife.org.

Incidentally, one may ask why would they have this event during January in Nevada.  This is because when they started the event this was the only time of the year when the weather was so bad that the cowboys could get time off to attend the event.

LITTLE BIG HORN

Saw the Custer special last night on PBS.  What always intrigues me about the Little Big Horn is that the East got the news on July 6, 1876, just a couple of days after celebrating the 100th birthday of the United States.  Until then the average citizen thought the Indian wars were a thing of the past.

Can you imagine the highs and the lows they experienced in a couple of days?

And speaking of highs and lows, with the defeat of Custer, Crazy Horse must have felt he could take on the whole world and be victorious.  However with the American people demanding revenge, General Nelson Miles was sent on a winter campaign after Crazy Horse.  And in May of 1877, less than a year after the Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse along with his rag-tag group of 217 men and 672 women surrendered.

GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER

Of all the Old West characters Wyatt Earp is probably the most controversial.  There are those who think he was the Old West’s greatest lawman, and others who say he was a con man.

Not far behind him is George Armstrong Custer.  There are those who feel he was a great military tactician, and others who believe he was a publicity hound.

 Tonight the PBS history series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will be airing a two hour special on Custer as a part of their month-long “Wild West” collection.  You can catch it at 8/7 C on PBS

BILLY THE KID PHOTO

Last week I commented on the Billy the Kid PBS special and how the famous picture of Billy the Kid kept appearing on the screen over and over.

That’s because there are only two authentic photographs of Billy the Kid presently in existence.  The most famous one is a two-by-three-inch ferrotype or tintype, taken by an unknown itinerant photographer outside Beaver Smith’s Saloon in Old Fort Sumner, around 1880…Because it portrays Billy as a very unattractive person, many have called it his visa picture.

Originally people didn’t realize that since it was a tintype, the image was actually reversed.  So, everyone though Billy the Kid was left handed. This misconception even inspired the 1958 movie “The Left Handed Gun,” starring Paul Newman as Billy. 

Finally firearms experts looked at the Kid’s Winchester and noticed its spring plate, where the cartridges are loaded, was on the left side.  But Winchester produced firearms with spring plates only on the right side.  So, later books and publications have the reversed image reversed, so it’s correct.

Recently this picture went on the auction block and a retired Wichita industrialist who collects everything from Wild West memorabilia to Picassos bought it for $2 million…Incidentally, it was thought it would go for about $300,000.

BILL BARWICK

We’re in Denver for the weekend attending the WESA apparel show…Looking for new lines for our Dog Jake on-line western store.

Saturday night Bill Barwick, the cowboy singer who’s going to be entertaining us on our Following the Legends Cruise to Alaska, was performing at the Buckhorn Saloon.  We were able to run over there and listen to a couple of sets.  He sure is a great singer and entertainer.

 To hear Bill go to http://www.billbarwick.com/sgs.php

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