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This is Page 51.

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.

previous weeks' photos

index of all photos

   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

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.

June 15, 2009

Poet and writer Bette Wolf Duncan shares her "Memories of Alvin Wolf." She writes:

Before he died, my father Alvin D. Wolf, taped a record of his life from early childhood on. This record was transcribed; and it now appears in a lovely hard cover book, The Descendants of Gottlieb Wolf (1833- 1880) et al. This book was compiled by my sister Dolores McMullen; and published by her as a gift to family members in 2006. The book was the culmination of 35 years of her genealogical research. The following data was taken from this book. The photos were found in family scrapbooks compiled by Dolores.

My grandfather, Hermann Wolf (1866 - 1949) immigrated to the United States when he was 16 years old. He lived with relatives in Wisconsin for awhile and worked in logging camps and lumber woods. Later, he moved to Minnesota, where he farmed and raised work horses that he eventually sold to the railroad. Hermann personally delivered the horses to Montana via rail. In 1909, he filed for a homestead on land located in Osborne, Montana. It wasn’t much of a town, just a store and a post office. (Osborne no longer exists; it is a part of the Huntley Project.) While located there, my grandfather farmed, but the major part of his income was probably derived from freighting logs from the Bull Mountains for the railroad. In his tape, my father said this:

"Dad always had good horses. In Minnesota during the summertime, he would farm and then take horses to Montana. At that time, the railroad company would haul the horses free of charge. They used the horses to help build the railroads. The ones Dad helped build were the Milwaukee around Osborne and the line that goes from Laurel to Great Falls, MT. Logs were hauled from the Bull Mountains to build timber bridges.

When they were freighting, they would first start out across the country at night. When they stopped they’d feed the horses. Indians were till roaming around the country then. Although we never had any problems with them, at night we’d worry about losing our horses. There was a lot of deer around; and hunters were sent out to get meat for the men."


Above is a picture of my grandfather Hermann, and his oldest child and my uncle, Berthold Wolf (1897 - 1918). They are pictured with some of their stock, a four horse team. Bert appears to be about 12 in this photo; so the photo was probably taken around 1909. 

Below is a picture of Uncle Bert and my grandfather, pitching hay to cattle from a wagon. Bert appears to be around 16 or 17; so the photo was probably taken around 1913.


Below is a picture of my grandmother, Emma Gerlach Wolf (1875 - 1960), and my father, Alvin D. Wolf (1909 -1991). Dad was the second baby boy born in Huntley Project. The photo shows them feeding chickens in front of the log chicken house. The family home and barn were made from timber hauled in from the Bull Mountains. The barn was built first. While the house was being built, the family lived in the barn. (The house was still standing until about five years ago, when it burned down.)

About my grandmother, Dad said this:

" Mother had a big job. She raised a big family and she worked hard. The women of today don’t know what work is. Everything in those days had to come out of the garden. You raised your own food and that was the women’s job. All the clothes you had were washed on the washboard. You had to carry your own water from the well and carry your own wood in for the stoves. You didn’t turn the faucet on to get hot water. When they washed clothes, they put a boiler on to heat the water. They then took care of the garden. It was a tremendous job, and I don’t know how they ever got their work done.

We never were out of clean clothes. We always had better home-cooked food than you get at home today. Milking cows usually turned out to be the women’s job twice a day. They had kerosene lamps and one had to see that they were filled all the time. The chimneys had to be kept clean as they would smoke up and get black. How did she ever get her work done?.

Mom always had quite a few people to cook for, not only for her family, because we usually had hired men around. Breakfast was usually at six or six-thirty. Meals were regular and on time and you didn’t fool around. Twelve o’clock or noon was dinner-time and you were there! Between six and six-thirty was supper and again, you were there or you didn’t get any! This was everyday. . . . "

The following picture (probably taken about 1914) shows Uncle Bert and my father when he was about five years old. They are pictured on family saddle horses. Bert was my grandfather’s right-hand man from the time he was a young boy. (His death while in the Army during WWI in 1918, about four year after this picture was probably taken, was a heartbreaking loss.)

About horses, my father said this:

"In Osborne where I was born, I used to ride horses all the time. I guess I was born in the saddle. I remember the first time I ever got thrown off a horse. Dad set me on a colt and then clapped his hands. The colt bucked me off. I couldn’t have been more than four at the most. The reason I remember this so well is that I landed on a manure pile but I didn’t get hurt. That little colt was killed by the railroad. She got in front of a train.

. . . When you’re seven or eight years old, you could drive a team of horses and go out and mow hay in those days. I would go out on my saddle horse and bring the milk cows home. The cows were in the hills for grass. Of course, the horse did more than I did and knew what she was doing more than I did."

Below are two pictures of Aunt Agnes Wolf Burnstead (1878 - 1997). The first shows Agnes on the horse to the left. (I don’t know who the other rider is.) When Uncle Bert died in 1918, Agnes took his place and did everything on the place but irrigating. She was a very hard working, intelligent women, typical of the many women of the West who took over farms and ranches when their husbands were absent. The second picture shows Agnes in a playful mood on her horse.



The following picture shows the Wolf family in their old Model T Ford. It was taken in front of their Osborne home. Seated on the running board are Grandpa and Agnes. My father, Al, is peering over their shoulder, and Grandma is standing toward the front of the car. The picture was probably taken around 1915.


Grandpa filed his Final Proof of Homestead Entry in 1914; ad in 1915, he sold the Osborne homestead. In 1916 he purchased about 650 acres of land in Stillwater Country, MT from the Northern Pacific Railroad. This land was located west of Park City near a railroad stop, then known as "Rapids". In his taped account, my father said this:

" Dad sold the place in Huntley (Osborne) and bought a place outside of Park City. . . He had one of the nicest farms in the whole country. It was about half way between Park City and Columbus. The land was located on both sides of the railroad. The grazing land was on the north side of the road and the farm land was on both sides. . . . The Stub was a train that ran from Billings to Butte. When it went by, we’d wave. That was the only thing we had to look at, and you could set your clock by it. He would stop and pick up our milk and cream and take it to the Livingston or Billings creamery. The money from the cows, chickens and butter was your grocery money. Whenever flour was needed, we’d take a load of wheat to town in Park City and trade it for flour and bran for the calves. . . .

The trains were your only means of transportation for any distance. They didn’t have roads like we do today. There was nothing but dirt roads and you didn’t even have a gravel road. You would go into town once a week unless you broke down. In the winter, it would be even longer. One didn’t have radios, telephones, or daily newspapers. You could be in war for several weeks and you wouldn’t know it unless someone told you. The only means of communication was from mouth to mouth or the Columbus newspaper that came out once a week. When you were in town, you would listen to all the news and tell everyone. Once in awhile we’d get the newspaper from the Stub."

In the two pictures below you can see the old farmhouse that Grandpa built. I was born in this house in 1930. In the first photo, Grandpa and Grandma are standing by the porch. In the second photo, Agnes is standing by the side of the house with her horse. The house is still standing, but the new owners have built a larger house that is more to their liking; and our dear old house is decaying with neglect.


The following picture shows the barn that Grandpa built. It is still in excellent condition. When Grandpa had it, the family brand was painted on the front below the roof. On the bottom side of the photo, you can see the edge of the Big Ditch, used for irrigation. The Yellowstone River was close by to the south.


Dad is pictured in the two photos below. In the first one, he is standing by the porch with his dog and his Remington rifle. In the second, he is standing in front of his horse. His gun can be seen sticking out of a leather case attached to his saddle. In the background is a deserted boarded up barn with a sagging roof, location unknown. There are many like it that dot the Montana prairies. These two photos were probably taken around 1921 and 1924. Concerning horses, Dad made an interesting comment:

"We had horses that were just as good fisherman as we were. We would fish right off the horse. They knew every hole in the river. They’d go right up to the spot to fish and as soon as that fish was on the line, they’d back right up to the shore. That was an easy way to fish. You didn’t have to walk much."



The final picture below shows Uncle Bert shortly before he died in the service in 1918. It shows him holding a goose in one hand and his rifle in the other. It is significant that the few pictures of Dad and Uncle Bert I have show them with rifles. Guns have always played a dominant role in Montana.


The West we enjoy today was built with the sweat and sacrifice of men and women like my relatives. Montana cattle were ( and maybe still are) highly prized by mid-western farmers and feedlots because they would survive while other livestock would languish or die. In the same way, the people of the West were unique; more independent, self reliant, and imbued with a rock-hard inner strength. They were survivors that sacrificed blood and sweat to overcome severe hardships. In the words of a poem I wrote ("The Men From Way Out West"):

It wasn’t their genetics
or some fabled cowboy deed.
Their rock-hard ranch existence
had spawned a different breed.

This account is also included here in our Western Memories feature.

Read more about Bette Wolf Duncan and some of her poetry here.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

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.

June 8, 2009

Greg Jehl of Indiana came across Michael Carlton's poem about the Palace Hotel in Sierra Blanca, Texas, which is in the far West of the State. Greg Jehl shared photographs and comments. He writes:

This picture of the Palace Hotel was taken in July, 1978:

I'm also including a picture of the Bank of Sierra Blanca which may have just as many interesting tales if walls could talk. I include it also as a location reference point for the picture of the hotel:

I worked for one summer (1973) in Sierra Blanca, Texas; a local developer was building some houses northeast of town. He also bought the Palace Hotel in miserable shape to fix it up and rent out rooms for weekly stays (I guess).

We built the homes in the day, and also cleaned up the hotel and put in some plumbing and windows. Most of the windows were put up in the early summer of 1973, but it was still a dilapidated place for sure. He allowed us to sleep at the Palace Hotel for free. He had some old metal bed frames with thin mattresses. Lennie the plumber, Jerry and Freddie the carpenters, and Charlie and I the helpers each had our separate “room,” but we usually pulled our beds out onto the east veranda at night. I remember the green railings.

I took the pictures in 1978 while traveling the southwest. I wanted to see what it looked like again.

I always thought of what may have gone on at the Palace Hotel back in “the cowboy days.. It was fun for me, a 17-year-old kid, to be able to work for $2.50/hour and sleep for free. (The developer ran out of money before the summer was over.) Those were tough times, too.

We never heard any weird noises or saw any ghosts. No rattlesnakes inside. The only thing that ever woke us up at night were the freight trains barreling through town!

Now I know why I hung on to these two photos for 31 years.

This is Michael Carlton's poem:

Palace Hotel

And the city gave way to progress
and the people gave  way to pain.
Now the only sound that the Palace hears
is the wind and the snow and the rain.
But deep inside her adobe walls
she remembers another day,
when fine ladies danced in satin gowns
and the band played the night away.

As he stepped through the door of the Place Hotel
his unwanted presence was felt.
He had a baby in a blanket held close to his chest
and a Bisley Colt in his belt.
As he closed the door behind him,
the blowing snow filled the air,
and the band quit playing and the dancin' stopped
and he knew he wasn't welcome there.

He said, "I know you don't care for squaw men,
and you care even less for a breed.
we'll only be here 'til the storm blows out
a room is all we need.
But my wife has died and I had to ride
with my baby through the snow
and I trust that you don't hate so much
you say we have to go."

Now the pride of three men was challenged;
they were ready for the test.
Knowing full well in the same hotel
a half-breed child might rest.
"We'll buy you a drink to warm you,
then you must be on your way,
but it'll be quite a while
before an Indian child
in the Palace Hotel will stay."

So the man lay the blanket on the bar;
the bartender move away.
He pulled back his coat to clear the Colt
and the three men made their play.
It was over in a heartbeat
and they never cleared their chairs.
Three men slept cold on the barroom floor,
but the baby slept warm upstairs.

And the city gave way to progress
and the people gave  way to pain.
Now the only sound that the Palace hears
is the wind and the snow and the rain.
But deep inside her adobe walls
she remembers another day,
when three foolish men on a winter's eve
tried to turn a child away.

© 2005, Michael Carlton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Michael told us about this poem:  It is not a true story, but the Palace Hotel is a real place.  Many years ago I was riding a bus East from El Paso and we pulled off the interstate and stopped in Sierra Blanca, Texas to pick up passengers and packages.  It was obvious that progress and the highway had passed the city by and while sitting there I also noticed the remains of the Palace Hotel whose name was barely legible on the remaining adobe walls.  The roof was fallen in, the windows were gone, but the thick old adobe walls were still standing.  While waiting for the bus to leave, I began to wonder what stories, good and bad, these old walls could tell if only they could talk...

An article in the Handbook of Texas Online tells that Sierra Blanca is
"at the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. The town owes its existence to the competition that surrounded the construction of the nation's second transcontinental rail link." It states that by 1892, "the town had 200 inhabitants, two hotels, and a general store... Its population grew to 350 by 1914, when it also had a hotel, a news company, two general stores, and two cattle breeders. By the mid-1920s the town had 600 residents. During the late 1920s the population rose to an estimated 800..." Today there are about 500 inhabitants. The article comments that half the town operates under Mountain Time, and the other half recognizes Central Time.

Find more about Sierra Blanca, including an article with vintage photos, at Texas Escapes.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

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.




















Tell us your stories!  If you have a photo to share, email us.

See an index of all past photos here.








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