Carol Highsmith
has been featured in...

I Wanta Be a Cowgirl and Rope and Ride All Day!

I say that — that I’d love to be a cowgirl in a snazzy Stetson hat and leather boots and chaps, riding and roping and rodeoing on a ride I’d name Frosty that was not just my horse but my partner and pal.  Over several months I loved meeting real, rough and ready, but ever-polite and considerate, men and women and documenting their hard, hard and dangerous work in Wyoming and northern Colorado.  But then I get to thinking about the howling blizzards, blowing snow sideways out of Alberta on sub-zero days, when, long before dawn, these stalwarts and their beautiful horses head out as the only lifeline to hundreds of stranded cattle and especially vulnerable calves.

That part of the romance of the West I think I’d rather just hear about.  And the cowhands can have branding day to themselves, too!

(Above) Ranch hand Chad Ferguson and his dog cross the snowy Ladder Livestock ranch, a vast cattle and sheep-ranching operation that straddles the Wyoming-Colorado border, which the Little Snake River crosses 12 times on the ranch’s property. This image was taken on the Colorado side, in Routt County. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)

Rodeo action at the Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration in Wyoming’s capital city. The Western celebration that is viewed by an estimated 200,000 onlookers, including throngs of tourists, each year in a city of 62,000 people or so includes one of the West’s most celebrated rodeos, American Indian pageantry, free pancake breakfasts, several Old West-themed parades, and other events. Cheyenne Frontier Days have been a mountain-states tradition since 1897. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)

A skilled cowhand lassoes a calf for branding at Big Creek Ranch, a Carbon County, Wyoming, cattle ranch near the Colorado border. (Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress America Collection)