A Secret Gem of Arizona: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum


         


 

THE NAVAJO Charles M. Russell 1919

Permanent Collection of Desert Caballeros Western Museum

It’s hard to believe that the tiny town of Wickenburg, Arizona (population something less than 7,000) could have one of the best and most comprehensive collections of early Western cowboy art. Just about anybody who is anybody as a 20th century Western artist is represented here. In this charming setting, you’ll find the entire panorama of Western art including works by the early explorer artists: landscape painters, the Taos Society, founders of the Cowboy Artists of America, and examples of more recent schools with new perspectives from impressionism to realism. You’ll see George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar Berninghaus, Joe Beeler, Harrison Begay, and even a stunning large bronze by Earle Heikka.

This museum took my breath away! It’s small and intimate. You feel you belong there. You can almost hear the artist’s voices spinning tall tales. I know my favorite Charlie Russell was there telling one of his yarns filled with his delightful profanity. Bob Fjeld, a handsome docent, said he preferred Russell’s bronzes, but for me, Heikka is the prize winner. I think Bob must be one of my long lost Norse kin from Montana.

And then, before you can catch your breath you’re over at The Old Livery Mercantile, Inc. on Tegner Street trying on Cowboy Hats and buying real Arizona silver and turquoise jewelry. Brett and Mary Ann Gerasim at the Old Livery have a motto. “Don’t hurry—this is Wickenburg!”

I love Wickenburg.


Charlie Russell’s Ghost Horse


Charlie Russell never gave up his Cowboy Image. He let be known around Great Falls, Montana that his beloved horse, Monte, had been a Crow Indian buffalo pony. This is the story he told.

 

A Blackfeet warrior named Calf Rope stole the pony from the Crow Indians one night. Trouble was, while Calf Rope was escaping with the pony, he was killed. So—as was Indian custom—Calf Rope’s fellow Blackfeet warriors shot the pony so Calf Rope’s spirit wouldn’t have to walk in his afterlife.

 

But—the damned pony survived the bullet wound and became what the Indians call a GHOST HORSE. Since the pony was supposed to be dead, no Indian would ride him. The pony’s medicine was too strong.

 

So—the Indians played a trick on Charlie, a tenderfoot white boy newly arrived from St. Louis. They sold him the horse.

 

Is the story true? It sure makes Charlie appear to have strong medicine, doesn’t it?

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT OF THE BUFFALO


Did you know that the historical U.S. buffalo population had twice the carbon footprint of today’s dairy industry.

I’ll bet you never thought about it, did you? Well, this news comes from Robert Hagevoort, Ag Sense columnist, at New Mexico State University. I had to consult Wickipedia to make sure I knew what a carbon footprint was in the first place.

Carbon footprints are a little like women’s shoe sizes: the smaller the better. A tiny carbon footprint is better than a great big hulking footprint. And what this is really all about are those dreaded green house gas emissions. 

Gosh darn it, quit being so sad about the buffalo. If those forty million bison were still hanging around on the grassy plains of North America, wouldn’t we be in a pickle? 

The last Sioux hunt was in 1883 and Eunie’s Blog on early day hunting stories gives us some grim details of General George Crook’s sportsmanship. 

So, not to worry when you read farm animals produce more greenhouse gases than the world’s entire transport system.

Thanks for the interview Heidi


What great fun doing the blog interview with Heidi Thomas.  I met Heidi last month at the Arizona Festival of the West.  We’re both members of Western Writers of America and were there signing our books.  I didn’t get a picture of Heidi but I’ll post some of the other participants.  Can anyone give me their names?