In the Land of Enchantment, formal clothing for business meetings includes cowboy boots, a blazer, and a bolo tie. The roots of New Mexico’s culture and cowboy mentality are industriousness, individuality, and a love of the frontier.
The Spanish introduced sheep, cattle, and vaquero techniques to New Mexico, but the Civil War was when cowboying in the West truly began to take off—although it didn’t last for very long.
But the heyday of weeks in the saddle managing the stock on the open range, suffering through protracted cattle drives, and participating in a fair amount of cattle rustling, she claims, only lasted around twenty years. Barbed wire, windmill irrigation, and the railroad’s introduction, beginning in the 1880s, all altered how ranchers moved and contained their livestock.
As someone who is working on a new exhibit called Riding Herd with Billy the Kid: The Rise of the Livestock Industry in New Mexico, Tookey adds, “There are still cowboys here because people work cattle, but as far as transporting cattle, it’s this beautiful time period.”
In Hobbs, where the Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo attracts some of the hottest competitors in the country, rodeos continue to be held throughout the state to commemorate the cowboy arts. However, according to Mary Lyle, education director at the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, the majority of cowboys today rely more on ATVs than horses.
She explains that they drove cattle almost seventy miles from Jal to Carlsbad in 2012 to commemorate the state’s centenary. The maximum daily driving distance for livestock is fifteen to eighteen kilometers. They were exhausted when it was all said and done. They declared, “We no longer do it.” (Source: https://www.newmexicomagazine.org/blog/post/wild-west-culture-new-mexico/)
New Mexico was altered by cowboys and trains, and they continue to inspire us. The working cowboy continues to be honored in rodeos throughout the state. William Henry McCarty, also known as Billy the Kid, was one of several criminals who roamed the New Mexico territory in the late 1800s.
However, a lot of the Old West’s towns and cities are still inhabited and even growing today. For similar reasons, many of the communities in the Old West were established. Infamous locations like Deadwood, Tombstone, and Virginia City are just a few of the cities that were first established as mining communities.