My beginnings in The West

August 18th, 2014, 4pm

Tie Siding, Wyoming 1975. As a young boy I was fascinated by the American West. My father was a rancher, so my summers were spent in rural Wyoming doing the jobs I was physically capable of; things like picking up nails, breaking beaver dams and setting my pants on fire with a branding iron. At night the coyotes would yip and cackle outide my hand-cut log window as I devoured books pertaining to the Old West. I read anything and everything that allowed me to visualize that time of dust and lawlessness. There were many books and stories about the West, and many told of the “taming” of the West, about how the Indians were subdued and settlers began to stake their claim in this wild new world, but the idea of this place being “tamed” never made sense to me. The landscape was beautiful one minute and merciless the next. It snowed in July. The wind could harness and control you. The air was thin and harsh. The rains came hard from the mountains and the soil pulled back, revealing arrowheads and bits of cloth and tool left over from the Indians who had inhabited our land before we were even an idea. My dad’s ranch partner was a cowboy, a real one; tough, smart, hard working and at home on horseback for any length of time. He could rope, ride, shoot and work cows, just like the characters in the books I was so fond of reading. And the assortment of men who came to work the ranch, to help out, were also right out of the same pages. These men were wild and perhaps familiar with a touch of the lawlessness of the past.Maybe we had modern houses, and trucks, but in my mind, nothing had been tamed. We had no telephone. I was paid to kill animals. We chased intruders off our land at gunpoint. The American West was as wild, in some ways, as it had ever been.

Christine, Sanna and David Wade said thanks.

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Daniel Milnor

"Photographer at Large" for Blurb, Inc. Serial book, magazine and journal maker. @smogranch

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