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This is Page 18.

See some past weeks' photos below

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.


We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.


Send your photo.

 Email us for information about sending it to us.



If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections— many with photos— contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.

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StanBetsy1949.jpg (27787 bytes)    prcelesta1.jpg (356401 bytes)   









If you have a photo to share, email us.


December 24, 2007

Jim Nelson, Wyoming rancher and co-host of Clear Out West (C. O. W.) radio with his brother, poet and humorist Andy Nelson, shared photos and the story of the live Nativity enacted each year at their Flying U ranch. Jim told us:

We have been doing the Nativity for a little over 15 years. Itt started with having friends out for Christmas Eve and taking the kids and dressing them up and going to the barn and reenacting the birth of Christ with the ranch animals and reading Luke's account of the birth of Christ.

captions from the Clear Out West (C. O. W.) site, where there are additional photos
The three wise men rode horses instead of camels on the account that it was -11 degrees!
L to R Gus Nelson (Jim's boy), Andy Nelson and Dylan Nelson (Andy's boy).


Well, one thing led to another and with the commercial aspect of Christmas and all, we just thought that this would be our way of giving back to the community, and in our own ranch way, trying to keep the true meaning of Christmas.

captions from the Clear Out West (C. O. W.) site, where there are additional photos
The shepherds left their flocks to follow the star. Far left is Jim's
son-in-law Trent Bingham and center is Andy's youngest son Will.

captions from the Clear Out West (C. O. W.) site, where there are additional photos
Mary and Joseph (played by Ryan and Marie McGuire) rode "Vato" in his only
working role of the whole year!

Every year we pack the 100-year-old barn with family and friends, and my father-in-law Dick Noble tells everyone there that "there have been a lot of things born in this barn but this is the most sacred thing that this old barn has witnessed."

captions from the Clear Out West (C. O. W.) site, where there are additional photos
The calving barn was the final destination for the cast and an audience of
about 150 people. It was indeed a very Merry Christmas!

Then we have hot chocolate around the bonfire and cookies, and those who can stay visit and rekindle old friendships and make new ones.



Earlier this year, the Green River Valley Cattleman’s Association honored Dick Noble and his family as one of a dozen “Century Ranches” still operating in their area. 

The Green River Valley Land Trust web site tells more about the Flying U Ranch, including:

The Flying U Ranch has been under the stewardship of the Noble family for five generations. Dick Noble's grandfather, James Noble, homesteaded the property and founded the original town of Cora on the ranch in about 1898. The old blacksmith shop still stands, complete with tools and equipment. "We want this place to stay a ranch forever," said Dick Noble's daughter, Tina Nelson [Jim's wife].

Read more and see a photo in a previous Picture the West entry from April 23, 2007 here.

In 2006, Andy and Jim Nelson were named Top Radio DJ's of the Year by the Western Music Association (WMA).

photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Andy and Jim Nelson


December 17, 2007


Bruce Matley ("Nevada Slim," half of the popular singing duo Nevada Slim and Cimarron Sue) shared the history of his family's Nevada ranch, photos, and his recent song, "The Ranch that I Can't See."  He also sent additional photos, courtesy of his cousin, rancher Wayne O. Matley.

The Matley Ranch was located on Mill Street, and was bordered by the Truckee River to the north, Matley Lane to the west, the Steel Ranch to the East, and the Kietzkie Ranch to the South. All of these ranches suffered the same fate.

My maternal great grandparents emigrated in 1863 from Ohio via St. Joseph, Missouri. Arriving at Honey Lake, California (adjacent to the present Susanville), they were unable to find really prime land available. Moving 40 miles south to Long Valley, California (near today's Doyle), they ranched until the later 1890s, when they took up a small ranch in the Truckee Meadows, where Reno began.

The Steinberger Barn, Doyle, California, 2002

My paternal Grandfather, John B. Matley, arrived from the Italian Alps at age 12, moved west, and at about age 20  married Grandma, in about 1900. These two built the home ranch to 1,000 acres of meadowland, and built nearly all the buildings:

Eventually 10,000 acres of BLM lease land were added.

Bruce at about age four on the porch of the ranch house his father built.

Bruce's cousin Wayne O. Matley shared additional photos from the family ranch:

The Matley children playing around the thresher, Matley Ranch, 1920s

Preparing to lower the boom on completion of the stack, Matley Ranch, undated

Tripping the nets dumps one half wagonload onto the stack, Matley Ranch, 1941

Beginning a new haystack, Matley Ranch, 1943

Wayne C. Matley on the pusher, Matley Ranch, 1943

Grandpa Matley's haystacks; the big stackyard in the meadow, Matley Ranch, 1943

Bruce continues: Percheron draft horses did the heavy work, which continued into my early youth. In summer, cattle were driven to Sierra Valley, California for summer range, a three day task to cover the 40 miles. I participated in the last years of this annual event. Suzi and I were fortunate enough to play the Vinton Cowboy Poetry Show in March, 2007, in Sierra Valley, and had a good chance to visit with old timers who remembered Grandpa and my uncles well. My cousin John F. Matley still ranches a few miles below Doyle, in Long Valley.

Grandpa was dead serious about his breeding of the Percheron draft stock. Here's an ad from the Reno newspaper: 

In this photo of a prize winning mare and foal taken in 1938, they are held by my father, Wayne C. Matley, also a singer, then aged 19.

Here is an earlier photo of Grandpa with his prize stallion, Lonroceitus:

The condemnation proceedings began in bits and pieces in the early 1950s. The whole mess went to the Nevada Supreme Court. By 1965, the ranch was gone. It lies under the Reno airport's runways, approaches, and terminals, and the maze of streets, warehouses, hotels and the like that grew up around it. The location of house I was raised in, built by my Dad's hands, is graced by a landing light tower.

This photo of Grandma and Grandpa Matley was probably taken in the early 1940s:

They were incredibly hardworking people, not in the least fancy. I don't know much about highly bred saddle horses or fancy saddle rigging or fancy hats and such because my family simply never felt the need for showy things. I, however, do feel the need to help hold the traditions and heritage together as best I can, and that happens to be by singing. At county fairs, in particular, there is an ongoing opportunity to reach the youngest kids with the music.

The Ranch that I Can't See

All this asphalt makes me angry

Such progress makes no sense to me

I’ll tell you now the story of

The ranch that I can’t see


Overland in 1863

Fleeing civil war and strife

Great Grandpa and Great Grandma came

Hoping for a peaceful life


Settling first up near Honey Lake

Then to Long Valley they moved on

Finally in the Truckee Meadows

The family’s roots at last went down


In their turn granddad and grandma

Built the ranch and saw through change

A thousand acres deeded home place

Ten thousand lease land range


Lean and fat years working side by side

Workhorses, cattle,  hay

Grandma she birthed eight youngsters

Six survived to take their place


Winters Dad and all my uncles

Plied the frozen fields to feed

With a team of gentle Percherons

And I’d pretend to drive, you see


And those stove-up old time ranchands

Taught many useful things to me

Gave me my first tobaccy chaw

How they laughed when I turned green


Learning ranchcraft and cowboy songs

There at  Daddy’s gentle knee

Now it’s a burning loss to me

The Ranch That I can’t see


Cause Reno town crept ever closer

And the elected thieves decreed

They would take it all “eminent domain”

To serve gambling fools and greed


So they build a sprawling airport,

Warehouses, streets and steel

We had to move right off of there

For years we fought that shifty deal


Yes, They built right on our heritage

Where I’d learned to ride and hay

Though we scattered to ranching elsewhere

The family never was the same


So I weep at all this asphalt

This progress makes no sense to me

Though I know it’s still there somewhere

The ranch that I can’t see


Though I know it’s still down in the land

The ranch that I can't see

© Bruce Matley, All rights reserved
These lyrics cannot be reproduced without written permission of the author


This story has also been added to the Western Memories feature.

Learn more about the music of Bruce Matley, "Nevada Slim" and Cimmaron Sue at their web site.


 Please share your photos.

We need your photos. If you enjoy this feature, help keep it going! Share your photos.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


December 10, 2007

We saw this enticing photo on poet, musician, saddle maker and rancher Robert Dennis' blog, and asked him to tell us about the history of his ranch in Red Owl, South Dakota, and he shared photos and the following story about his ranch and the town of Red Owl:

Dennis ranch was started by Henry Dennis, a Civil War veteran, in  about 1900. He and his wife Maggie had all their children move from  Iowa to South Dakota at the turn of the century. So the old folks followed and homesteaded on Indian Creek. They found an old log cabin, 20 miles south of the homestead location, probably built by French- Canadian fur trappers, that they tore apart, while numbering the  logs. They loaded hauled the logs with teams and wagons back up to  the homesite and rebuilt. I still have 4 of those original cedar logs in my house today.

Henry and Maggie's two sons, Edwin and Walter, located and homesteaded next to their parents. A daughter, Ona, who was married to John Timmons and who was the first Dennis to come to the country, had a ranch slightly northwest, near Stoneville. Another sister, Anna Findley and her husband were situated just north of Henry and Maggie, on Red Owl  creek. Over the years, Walter and wife Lizzie, bought out his parents and brother, sold to his son Roy and wife Dorothy, who in turn sold to their son Robert and wife Cindy. We hope to pass it on to the next  two generations.

The town of Red Owl was started in 1908, just west of the present day site. When the roads were built up, Red Owl was a half mile west of the road, so they moved the few buildings east to the present location.

There were two forks to Owl creek, so to differentiate between them, they called one White Owl creek and the other Red Owl creek. Some say they were named for Indians of that name who lived alongside them.  White Owl was the first post office in the country, back when it was mostly big cow outfits. When the honyockers came in, many small towns  were established for the homesteaders to do business at.

At one time Red Owl had many small businesses. A lumber yard, a bank,  several stores. A story in the Wall Street journal in the 1970s claimed that more professional people per capita came out of Red Owl,  South Dakota, than any other place. Rud and Margerite Kavorik ran the Red Owl store  and had six children. They were about the only occupants of the town.  All the children went to college and went on to become doctors,  teachers, and one, a nun. So, 100 % of the children of the town, went to college!

At one time there was a chain of grocery stores named Red Owl  Market's scattered across South Dakota and a neighboring state or two. They got their name from the man who started them, who as a small boy rode 
with his father as he hauled coal from Firesteel, South Dakota. One of his delivery points was the little town of Red Owl. The future owner of  these grocery stores always loved the name, so when he got his  business going, he named them for the original Red Owl store.

The last man legally executed in Meade county, Ernest Loveswar, killed two homesteaders where the Red Owl dam now sets. It was a feud over the love of a girl. He killed two men who were homesteading at  Red Owl. While they slept he shot both at the same time, with a pistol in each hand and then finished his job with an axe. He was 
caught and confessed. He was hung in Sturgis, South Dakota. They built a tall fence around the scaffold and then sent out invitations to the hanging. When he was hung, the rope broke and even though he was technically dead, he had not hung the legal time so they had to get a  new rope, re-tie the knot and hang him again! There are a series of photos of the hanging at the famous Wall Drug.

When I was young, you could get almost anything you needed at the local store. Even Levi's! A few years ago, the older couple who ran the store sold out and the new people didn't keep the store going  very long and then we lost our local post office a few years later, which was located as a part of the building. Now in the town proper,  there is a community hall, an auto repair shop, a Catholic church and our local firehall, which houses two fire fighting units. There is also a shop for the local maintainer man and his roadgrader and snow plow. At this time, three families live within Red Owl.

Outside of the town limits (in the suburbs) there are many small businesses run from peoples homes. We who still live and work here are mostly small family ranchers, who neighbor to get our work done.  Those of us who are still here learned from our ancestors how to survive the hard times: with grit, determination and a smile on our  faces... and the help of good neighbors!

Robert Dennis has contributed other interesting photos to Picture the West, including:

Area photos from the early 1900s

Family photos from the 1920s

You can read more about Robert Dennis and read some of his poetry here.

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski


December 3,  2007

Wyoming writer and poet Jean Mathisen Haugen shared this photo of a tree planted by her family 117 years ago. Jean told us:

Photo from about 1990, it's bigger now!


The tree was planted the year my Grandfather, John Hornecker, was born in 1890 behind the log cabin he was born in. My mother was also raised in that cabin along with 7 brothers and sisters and was married there. The tree is an integral part of our family lore, our "family tree" so to speak.

The cottonwood is a giant. I think it has to be one of the biggest cottonwoods in Wyoming--it has a trunk circumference of better than 28'.

My aunt sold the old ranch 2 years ago, but the fellow who bought it has fixed up the old log cabin and restored it (the cabin dates to the 1870's) and his wife is going to use it for her silversmith shop. He is also very proud of the old tree. He runs some horses on the ranch and a few llamas. My uncle still owns part of the old ranch--it has been in family ownership for 123 years now. The tree is now 117 years old and still growing.

Jean wrote the following poem about the tree:


Old tree, you've seen one hundred ten years
as the sun went rolling by.
Growing bigger every season,
cutting space into the sky.
Cottonwood, you sing at evening,
when the wind is wafting low.
Songs of sweetness, songs of sadness,
songs of all the years you know.
And the log house built before you
still stands there beneath your leaves.
Dreaming now of all the home folks,
born and grown who always leave.
There were children in your young years—
great-great grandparents of those now.
Children born and lived and died here—
ranching, working, raising cows.
There was many a black angus
sought the coolness of your shade.
Children played their games about you,
broken-hearted mourners prayed.
There were lilacs in the sweet May,
family dinners on the lawn.
Family gatherings, weddings, good times,
ah, so many of them gone.
Patriarch, you're left to dream now
of the times on the Seven-Y-Bar.
Families gone and past now—
only you know where they are.

© Jean Mathisen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jean Mathisen Haugen has contributed a story about her family's brand, "Saga of the Old ND Brand Continues for 123 Years" to the Western Memories project at the BAR-D:


Read more about Jean Mathisen Haugen and some of her poetry here.


 Please share your photos.

If you enjoy this feature, help keep it going! Share your photos.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us.


See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.






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