Western Expansion: Cowboys

By: Stephen Tometi and Megan McCalla

Western Expansion: Cowboys

Cattle drives picked up popularity around the 1830s with drives often taking place from Texas to a port in New Orleans or even from California to Oregon in the West. The beef supplied was often used to feed miners after the Gold Rush of 1849. While during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 it was used to feed the Confederate troops in the South. After the war the market from cattle dropped drastically and performing drives to city was no longer as financially beneficial.

Their breakfast consisted of basic easy to make foods, such as bacon, beans, bread and coffee.Spent around 18 hours in the saddle a day. Fights with fellow cowboys was common, causing the trail boss to have to be tough enough to handle it without loss of workers or livestock. Normally the living conditions on the ranch was often far worse than the open range with only a small bunkhouse that often leak and plagued by lice. Often times the cowboys died young from accidents on the trails, disease or Indian skirmishes.

12 cowboys could handle about 3000 cattle. They wore 10 gallon hats to protect them from the sun and rain, wore pointed shoes to slip in and out of the stirrups so when the fall off the horse they don’t get stuck, chaps so they can’t get pricked by sharp bushes or cacti the horses run into, and a bandana to protect them from dust. Cowboy code: always say howdy to be courteous, don’t wave to a man on a horse instead nod, don’t wear another man’s hat, don’t ride another man’s horse without his permission, and always help someone in need. They made about $25 to $40 for a month of work, yet the trail boss was paid $100 to $125 and the cook somewhere around $60 a month.

MLA Citation

Nelson, Ken. " History: Cowboys of the Old West ." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Oct. 2015. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.


"Cattle Drives." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 2 Oct. 2015<http://www.encyclopedia.com>.


"Cowboys The Old West America | Revelations - The Initial Journey." The Initial Journey. Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, 2015. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.

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