Researching cattle drives in the 1850s - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Researching cattle drives in the 1850s

Hey all! I'm fairly new to this online community, but it looks like a wonderful place to be. I'm currently researching historical information about cattle drives that took place up and down the West Coast during the California Gold Rush. Is anyone a history buff or know of any good resources to find information about types of saddles, or supply bags, or even what type of horse was used?

I'm doing research for a independent movie being produced later this year. (Shameless plug :P)


Thanks for your help!

Last edited by SouthernTrails; 06-04-2013 at 03:47 PM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 06:43 PM
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I have no resources but I'm betting the style of saddle and horse would run to the Mexican Vaquero's. Here is a good (short) history and there is a list of book recommendations at the end Vaquero Heritage Days - California Vaquero History


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post #3 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 06:46 PM
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The History of the Vaquero | American Cowboy
another site


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post #4 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 06:55 PM
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"Early and mid-1800s Ranching ceased to be a strictly Hispanic profession as more Americans poured into once Mexican-held lands (especially after the Mexican/American War, 1846–48). The Anglo newcomers adapted to the vaquero style, and many settlers intermarried with the old Spanish ranching families. The 1849 gold rush brought even more people to California, which increased the demand for beef. Californios rode ponies that had been trained in a hackamore, swung a big loop with their hand-braided rawhide reatas, and took a wrap called a dally (from the Spanish dar la vuelta, to take a turn) around high saddle horns for leverage when roping cattle."
There are a few terms to research. Just FYI there are still many artisans who do the braided leather work. The braided rawhide reatas are beautiful if you've never seen one.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your help! Yeah I've seen some braided rawhide reatas and they're gorgeous! We are actually actually in contact someone in the Seattle area who makes them.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-04-2013, 08:44 PM
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If you contact many of the rawhide/reata braiders I bet you get at least a few responses. Most of those guys are passionate about history.

Saddle makers are the same way. Both have forums on the internet and I was surprised at how many use them.

There are some good books made from the journals that people on cattle drives kept. If you can't find any in your area's library (I see you're in WA) try contacting some in cattle country. We're interested in how it was done all over the country. There are also many books that have excerpts from missionary priests from that time period and your area of interest. Again, a reference librarian with the tenacity of a terrier will be your friend.

Good luck. I'd love to watch what you come up with (if it isn't smutty!).
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cattle drive , gold rush , historical question , history

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