Go West, young man…

By now, it’s no secret that I am partial to the history of the Old West. My interest, spurred first by stories of my ancestors, Mormon pioneers, crossing the plains and Rocky Mountains with handcarts, has never wavered. I love the stories of their determination, sacrifices and just plain grit in the face of hardships. I often wonder if I would have the courage to pick up, leave everything behind – friends, possessions, businesses – to start over in some desolate area, based solely on the belief that leaving was the right thing to do. Of course, in some cases, because of physical and emotional persecution, leaving was really the only thing to do.

Can you imagine spending days, weeks, months doing this?

Can you imagine spending days, weeks, months doing this?

I’m sure it helps that I was born in my grandparent’s log cabin, an unexpected twin, and my brothers and I spent years playing make believe with my grandfather’s rifle, saddle and even my grandmother’s treasured spinning wheel. Stored inside what we called the granary was a wonderland of strange treasures from the past, treasures that fueled my imagination and fascination with history.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Learning about my grandfather, a blacksmith who left his native Sweden to journey to America and make his fortune, and then spent time in Deadwood, South Dakota back when it was a wild frontier town filled with legendary characters such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, further encouraged my imagination. I wanted to be him, living adventurously, free from the constraints of modern society.

Always keep your back to the wall

Always keep your back to the wall

As an adult, I’ve spent much of my free time studying the history of our country, from its founding through the 20th century. However, most of my concentration has been on the life and times of the mountain men and their sometime allies, sometime enemies – the Indians. I admit, as I read of their times, life-style and adventures, I want to live them myself. And, in my mind I do, every time I research their lives, participate in living history, build a rifle, and create art documenting their story.

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13 thoughts on “Go West, young man…

  1. My wife is afraid when I go on my hiking excursions I might just keep exploring. Of course my life is my family, but when I am alone in the mountains I can see how the serenity of the environment enticed men to the West. Great post.

  2. Lovely to read this post – it seems so exotic to me, living in England. I’ve always loved the look of those log cabins, and the idea of such huge open spaces to live in is at once thrilling and scary.

  3. I went back, a year ago, to see what you were writing. Three great images, here. And yet, I find it interesting there is none of your work here. That’s okay, but I look forward to seeing your work. This post here is wild. The cabin you were born in? Trapper, my thirteen-year old daughter says “AW-SUM!!!”. Definitely awesome. Okay, man, I’m out. Hope the summer is going well. T

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