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Classic Cowboy Poetry

From Brininstool's "Traildust of a Maverick" 1914

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E. A. (Earl Alonzo) Brininstool (1870-1957) was a western historian, best known for his writings about Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He also worked as a reporter and editorial writer for Los Angeles newspapers. In a 1994 reissue of his 1954 book, Troopers with Custer, it is claimed that he wrote over 5,000 Western poems.

In the introduction to Brininstool's 1914 poetry collection, Trail Dust of a Maverick, Robert J. Burdette wrote that Brininstool, like earlier dialect poets (including Robert Burns):

". . . has done the same thing for the abundant, exuberant, natural dialect of the range and the rodeo; the long winding trail, the sweep of the prairies . . . his verse lends splendor to the sunrise and beauty to the sunset . . . His songs have this deathless quality—they chant the glories and the beauties, the joys and the dangers, the dances and the conflicts of the vanishing life."


This 1913 photo of E.A. Brininstool and "Curley" is from the Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database at the Montana State University Library. From the site: "The Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database includes photographs, paintings, ledger drawings, documents, serigraphs, and stereographs from 1874 through the 1940s..." Find more on the photo here,

Find a 1926 photo of Brininstool here in the University of Wyoming's American Heritage digital collection.
 

Following are some selections from Trail Dust of a Maverick. A list of all the book's poems is included below and there are some additional links and a list of other books by Brininstool.

Poems

Autumn on the Range
Off across the wide arroyo sweeps the breezes of the fall...

Back to Arizona
Take me back to Arizona as it was in early days... (separate page)

Back to the Range
I've played the movin' picter game...

The Bunkhouse Boys
Who are a mighty happy crew . . .

Cattle Land's Farewell
There ain't no Cattle Land no more that isn't wire-fenced...

A Cattle Range at Night
The prairie zephyrs have dropped to rest...

Christmas Week in Sagebrush (separate page)

The Country to the West
When the hull big world gits gloomy  . . .

A Cowboy's Version
When I'm ridin' alone in the night-time way out on the desolate range...

The Cowgirl
She ain't inclined to'rds lots o' things that eastern gals can do up brown...

The Cowman Jubilates
The sodden slopes are turnin' green

The "Finale" of the Puncher
When the last great herd has vanished...

Frederic Remington
He knew the West as only few have known...

The Grub-Pile Call
There's lots o' songs the puncher sang in roundin' up his herds...

His Trade-Marks
The cowboy ain't no dandy...

Juanita
Drear are the prairies; the ranges are silent...

The Old Log Cabin
It stands alone on a treeless plain—...

The Old Colt Gun and "Old Six Gun"
You've been a good old pal to me...

The Old Yellow Slicker
How dear to my heart was that old yellow slicker...

On Night Herd
So-ho, longhorns! Quit yet callin!

The Passing of the Old West
The West ain't what it used to be before the wire bands...

Rainy Day in a Cow Camp
Gusty sheets o' rain a-fallin...

The Range Cook's "Holler"
They sing of the puncher--that knight of the range who rounds up the bellerin' steer...

A Range Rider's Appeal
Guard me, Lord, when I'm a -ridin' 'crost the dusty range out there...

The Range Rider's Soliloquy
Sometimes when on night-herd I'm ridin'...

Remarks by "Bronco Bob"
I wouldn't make no Wall Street king . . .

A Roar from the Bunkhouse
Nary a thing to eat Thanksgivin'...

Sence Slim Got Piled
Slim Bates ain't braggin' any more about how he kin ride'...

"Suffrage" in Sagebrush
She come in by stage from Cayuse; she was young and fair to see...

Unrest on the Range
This movin' pitcher business it has got quit, by gum!

The West
When you have lived out in the West . . .

The West for Me
I love the peaks with their snow-bound caps...

A Westerner
I knowed he was a Westerner . . .


Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.


Some Poems

The Bunkhouse Boys from E. A. Brininstool's  Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

 

The Bunkhouse Boys

Who are a mighty happy crew
    In ev'rything they say and do?
The wildest bunch I ever knew —
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who, through their manners may be rough,
Are true as steel — the pure gold stuff,
And might quick to call a bluff?
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who ride the ranges, lone and drear,
And herd the bawlin', restless steer
Through storm and sunshine, year on year?
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who ride through town to have their fun,
With foamin' broncos on the the run,
And smoke a-spittin' from each gun?
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who paint the place a lurid red,
When decent folks are all in bed?
The bunch that's allus raisin' Ned —
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who blow their hard-earned ducats in
At playing poker — lose or win,
And take their losses with a grin?
    The bunkhouse boys.

When they ain't broke, who allus lends
A five or ten-spot to their friends,
An' don't expect no dividends?
    The bunkhouse boys.

Who are the kings of sagebrush land,
And allus give the glad, glad hand?
The crowd that wears the true-blue brand —
    The bunkhouse boys.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Remarks by "Bronco Bob"

I wouldn't make no Wall Street king;
    I'm no financial guy;
I don't know much o' anything
    But makin' money fly.
But I kin pitch a rope an' git
    A steer at ev're throw,
An on the ranges I am "it,"
    'Cuz cows is all I know.

I wouldn't make no parlor gent
    Close-herding' gals — that's right!
'Cuz I ain't wuth a tarnal cent,
    When wimmen heaves in sight.
But when I'm asked to read a brand,
    Or tame an outlaw hawss,
Well, pard, that's biz I understand;
    That's where I am the boss.

I couldn't sing no op'ry air;
    At that I ain't no bird,
But I kin bawl out purty fair
    When I am on night herd.
I don't know this "Il Trovatore"
    That's bragged up purty steep,
But "Swannee River" when I roar
    Makes cattle go to sleep.

I ain't no city dude, that's sure,
    With starched-up shird by gee!
For me the city has no lure;
    It's Sagebrush Land for me!
A bronc' that's scrubby, touch an' hard,
    An open range to roam;
A blanket in the bunkhouse pard,
    An' that's what I call home!

I'm clean stampeded when some girl
    Comes maverickin' 'round
To git my bronco heart a-whirl,
    An range my feedin' ground.
But when the brandin' fires gleam,
    An' round-up work gits hot,
I ain't a-travelin' in no dream,
    I'm Johnny-on-the-spot!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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A Westerner

I knowed he was a Westerner
    I knowed it by his talk;
I knowed it by his headgear,
    I knowed it by his walk.
His face was bronzed and fearless;
    His eye was bright and keen,
That spoke of wide, vast ranges
    I knowed that he had seen.

Somehow I knowed he'd ridden
    The range-lands of the West;
His speech was bunkhouse patter—
    The kind I love the best.
He brought a hint of prairies,
    Of alkali and sage;
Of stretches wide and open —
    The Western heritage.

I knowed he was a Westerner
    Just from the way he done;
His footgear, too, proclaimed him
    A stalwart Western son...
He had "the makin's" with him,
    And I could not forget
His bed-ground from the manner
    He rolled his cigaret.

He brought with him the freedom
    Of that great Western land;
Where grassy billows, endless,
    Sprawl out on ev'ry hand.
The city noises chafed him,
    And each skyscraper tall
Seemed like grim barriers risin',
    Or some deep canyon wall.

He seemed a part and parcel
    Of countries wide and far,
Where great herds dot the mesas,
    Out where the cowmen are.
I knowed he was a Westerner
    Becuz he was so free
In yellin' "Howdy pardner!"
    When he was passin me.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The Country to the West

When the hull big world gits gloomy and as dark as all tarnation,
And a feller feels as grumpy as a lone steer on the range;
When he cain't see nothin' 'round him but despair and desolation,
'Cuz the trails that he is follerin' are new and fresh and strange;

When the people that he's meeting' ain't the kind he likes to chum with,
And he feels a homesick feelin' jest a-tuggin' 'neath his vest,
How he hankers for the Open, and the pals he used to bum with
In the sagebrush stretches lyin in the country to the West!

And he glimpses wide arroyos stretchin' out as if to greet him,
While the rocky buttes they lure him, and they whisper to him, "Come!"
And the hoary mountains call him, and the cattle trails entreat him
To forget the busy city and its life so burdensome.

There's a whisper from the mesas which forever hauntshis dreamin'
And his heart rebels within him with its burden of unrest,
And he sees the sand-dunes sparklin' and the yucca-plumes a-gleamin'
In the sagebrush stretches lyin' in the country to the West!

There's the croonin' of the pine trees — jest forever callin', callin',
There's the murmur of the river as it glides through chasms deep;
There's the lowin of the cattle on his restless senses fallin',
And the yelpin' of the ki-yote, as he's dropping off to sleep.

There's the purpled sunsets sparklin' like a molten sea off yonder
There's a glint of gold a-shinin' on the rugged canyon's crest,
And the vision stands before him, growin' dearer, growin' fonder,
Of the sagebrush stretches lyin' in the country to the West.

Oh there ain't no spot that's dearer in the hull of God's Creation
When you've felt the call within you as you packed your kit to go!
And you had a mental picture of the lonely railroad station
Where the boys would ride to meet you — all the pals you used to know.

How the rangelands smiled upon you, and the skies seemed all the bluer,
With the prairie jest a-blazin' with the blooms upon its breast!
Then you knew that life was sweeter, and your pards were kinder, truer,
In the sagebrush stretches lyin' in the county to the West.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The West

When you have lived out in the West,
    Till it becomes a part of you,
And you've a feeling in your breast
    No other spot on earth will do;
When you can call the desert home,
    And love the ranges vast and drear,
Then every butte and rocky dome,
    And stretch of sage will grow more dear.

When every flaming sunset seems
    To hold you by a magic spell,
And you have visions in your dreams
    Of mesa tops and chaparral;
And when the rolling prairie land
    You love more than the city street,
Then shall you know and understand
    The charm which draws your eager feet.

When all God's great out-of-doors
    You worship with a new delight;
When rocky ridge and canyon floors,
    Show added wonders day and night;
When wide, free plains seem reaching out
    To welcome you with open arms,
You will have learned, without a doubt,
    The secret of the great West's charms.

When you can ride each lengthening trail
    Without a sense of loneliness;
When every coulee, draw and swale
    Hold beauties which you may possess;
When you can read the starry Skies
    Beneath which you lie down to rest,
Then shall you know and realize
    The fascination of the West!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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A Cattle Range at Night

The prairie zephyrs have dropped to rest,
   And the dust-clouds settle down;
The sun dips low in the golden west,
   O'er the mesa bare and brown.
The wearied riders come loping in,
   As the hills grow dim and strange,
And the songs of the insect world begin--
   'Tis a night on a cattle range.

The stars gleam out in the calm, clear sky
   Like twinkling orbs of light,
And over the range drifts the coyote's cry
   Through the star-lit summer night;
The night-hawk whirls in its ceaseless rush,
   As the evening breeze is stirred,
And the cowboy's song breaks the lonely hush,
   As he circles the bedded herd.

The campfire throws but a fitful glare,
   And the buttes, like specters, rise
Far over the deep arroyo there,
   As sentinels in the skies.
While the silent forms in their blanket beds
   Dream on, to the night wind's sigh,
As gently about their sleeping heads,
   The breeze drifts idly by.

The moon steals up o'er the dark butte's crest
   In silvery shafts, which gleam
And sparkle there on the brown earth's breast
   Like gems in a fairy dream.
The night creeps on, with its mystic charms,
   To the song of the whip-poor-will,
And drifts to Dreamland in Nature's arms,
   And the range grows hushed and still.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Autumn on the Range

Off across the wide arroyo sweeps the breezes of the fall,
Where the haze of Injun summer sort o' lingers over all;
Ev'ry bronco is cavortin' in the chilly autumn air,
And the yippin' of their riders is resoundin' everywhere.

The campfire smoke is risin' sort o' lazy-like and slow,
Where the cook is busy mixin' up a batch o' sour-bread dough;
And the boys who rode on night-herd are a-yawnin' in their beds,
While the foreman showers cuss-words down upon their luckless heads.

There's a smell of fryin' bacon as it sizzles in the pan,
And the boys'll soon be lined up at the mess-box to a man;
And the cups'll be a-clatter, for the coffee's b'ilin' hot,
While the slapjacks that are bakin' are a-going to hit the spot.

Soon the dust-clouds will be risin' where the herd is stragglin' through,
And there'll be some lively doin's by the hull blamed round-up crew;
There'll be runnin', there'll be dodgin' when they start to cuttin' out,
And the sagebrush flats will echo with the cowman's lusty shout.

So you'd better cord yer beddin' and then climb into your chaps,
And when you hev gulped your coffee, cinch yer latigoes and straps,
For they're drivin' in the hawss-herd and the puncher's day's begun,
And there's goin' to be some sweatin' 'fore the cuttin' out is done.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The Grub-Pile Call

There's lots o' songs the puncher sang in roundin' up his herds;
The music wasn't very grand, an' neither was the words.
No op'ry air he chanted, when at night he circled 'round
A bunch of restless longhorns that was throwed on their bed-ground;
But any song the cowboy on his lonely beat would bawl,
Wa'n't half as sweet as when the cook would start the grub-pile call.

I've heard 'em warble "Ol' Sam Bass" for hours at a time;
I've listened to the "Dogie Song," that well-known puncher rhyme;
"The Dyin' Cowboy" made me sad, an' "Mustang Gray" brung tears,
While "Little Joe the Wrangler" yet is ringin' in my ears.
But of the songs the puncher sang, I loved the best of all,
That grand ol' chorus when the cook would start the grub-pile call.

There wasn't any sound so sweet in all the wide range land;
There wa'n't a song the puncher was so quick to understand.
No music that he ever heard so filled him with delight
As when he saw the ol' chuck-wagon top a-gleamin' white;
An' like a benediction on his tired ears would fall
The sweetest music ever heard—the welcome grub-pile call.

I've laid at night an' listened to the lowin' of the steers;
I've heard the coyote's melancholy wail ring in my ears.
The croonin' of the night-wind as it swept across the range
Was mournful-like an' dreary, an' it sounded grim an' strange.
But when the break o' day was near, an' from our tarps we'd crawl,
The mornin' song that charmed us was that welcome grub-pile call.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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His Trade-Marks

The cowboy ain't no dandy
     When it comes to wearin' clo'es;
But when he trails to the city,
     He'll go as other folks goes.
But there's just two things he's wearin'
     From which he never scoots--
He'll stick to his old sombrero
     He'll stick to his high-heeled boots!

He'll tackle a stranglin' collar
     That's hitched to a stiff b'iled shirt;
He'll discard his chaps and gauntlets,
     And wash off the prairie dirt;
But he'll hand to two possessions,
     Though folks turn up their snoots--
He'll stick to his old sombrero
     He'll stick to his high-heeled boots!

He'll peel off his old bandana,
     And his overalls, too, he'll drop,
And he'll wear store duds and neckties,
     And his old blue shirt he'll swap.
But for just a part of his outfit
     He never has substitutes--
He'll stick to his old sombrero,
     He'll stick to his high-heeled boots!

He'll part his hair in the middle,
     And with perfume adorn his pelt;
He'll put on some real suspenders,
     Instead of a ca-tridge belt.
He'll lay off the gun he's wearin'
     But in spite of the jeers and hoots,
He'll stick to his old sombrero,
     He'll stick to his high-heeled boots!

Oh, yes, he's a queerish mixture
     When in from the range he strays,
And puts on a town man's toggin's,
     And copies the town man's ways.
But when to the town he's comin'
     To mix with the dude recruits,
He'll stick to his old sombrero,
     He'll stick to his high-heeled boots!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

 

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A Roar from the Bunkhouse

Nary a thing to eat Thanksgivin'
   Only tin can truck!
Gettin' tired of such a livin',
   Blame the orn'ry luck!
Nothin' only beans an' bacon

   Pard, excuse these tears!
Seems jest like we've been fursaken

   Darn this punchin' steers!

Folks back home are jest a-stuffin'
   Turkey-meat an' pie;
At them feed-fests there's no bluffin';
   Gosh, it makes me sigh!
No sich dinner for us fellers
   In this camp appears;
Turkey ain't fer cowboys' smellers

   Darn this punchin' steers!

Weather soggy-like an' murky;
   Makes me mighty blue;
Thinkin' of Thanksgivin' turkey
   Makes me h'umsick, too.
Sour-dough bread an' canned tomaters
   Ain't th' grub that cheers;
Oh fer pie an' mashed pertaters!
   Darn this punchin' steers!

Bunkhouse bunch are sick as blazes
   Bein' fed this way;
Gettin' so th' maynoo raises
  Sam Hill ev'ry day!
ev'ry mother's son a-kickin'
  When th' truck appears!
Never git a sniff o' chicken

   Darn this punchin' steers!

Same ol' bread an' beans furever!
   Gosh, we'd like a change!
Reck'n we won't git it never
   While we ride th' range!
Oh, fer some o' mother's cookin;

   That's th' dope that cheers!
Guess my callin' I've mistooken

   DARN this punchin' steers!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The Old Yellow Slicker

How dear to my heart was that old yellow slicker,
   I carried 'way back in my cowpunchin' days;
'Twas stiff as a board, but I wasn't a kicker
   When it was a-rainin' an' me huntin' strays.
I carried it tied at the back of my saddle,
   All ready for blizzard or windstorm or rain,
An' 'twas my salvation when I had to straddle
   My bronc' an' lope out on the mud-spattered plain.
        That old yellow slicker,
        That spacious old slicker,
   I carried on many a round-up campaign!

That old yellow slicker! 'Twas big and 'twas roomy;
   It sure kept me dry when the rain trickled down;
I wore it on night-herd with skies black and gloomy,
   It covered me well from my feet to my crown.
No matter how sloppy or muddy or lowery;
   No matter how cold or unpleasant the storm,
No matter how blusterin', gusty or showery,
   That old yellow slicker I wore kept me warm!
        That ill-fittin' slicker,
        That fish-oil-soaked slicker,
   Its mission it never yet failed to perform.

That old yellow slicker which I have defended
   Hangs there in the bunkhouse agin the log wall;
Its mission's fulfilled, an' its range life is ended--
   No more do the herds on the cattle-trail call.
But sometimes I dream in the dim summer gloamin',
   An' there in the embers which flicker an' change,
I catch a faint glimpse of the herds that were roamin',
  An' think of that slicker I wore on the range.
        That battered old slicker,
        That old yellow slicker,
   A cattle-day relic I'll never exchange!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Unrest on the Range

This movin' pitcher bizness it has got to quit, by gum!
Cuz it's puttin' our cowpunchers and the cow game on the bum!
The boys are allus kickin' when we start to run our brands,
Cuz they say that rastlin' yearlin's kind o' dirties up their hands!

But the cowboys like the movies, cuz it's diff'runt, fer a change,
And it's gittin' so no puncher will go out to ride the range;
Cuz he gits two bucks fer goin' through a lot o' Wild West whirls,
And the privilege of huggin' all the pretty actor girls!

We're findin' that good ropers are all-fired hard to git,
And the high-class bronco busters all have saddled up and quit,
Cuz the movie-man corraled 'em and they draw a puncher's pay
Jest fer posin' in a pitcher fer an hour ev-ry day!

Us o'-time cowmen hate it--hate this movin' pitcher fame
Which is spoilin' all our punchers who was in the cattle game;
We're weary of sich doin's, where they flash upon a screen
All them monkey shines no cow-ranch in the country ever seen!

So we're prayin' that our punchers will git sick of faked-up strife,
And be yearnin' fer real danger of the ol'-time cowboy life.
These movin'-pitcher fellers make us tired--durn their souls!
And we'd like to jerk a six-gun and jest pump 'em full o' holes!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The Cowman Jubilates

The sodden slopes are turnin' green
Where grassy shoots are peepin' out'
The purtiest site you ever seen

It makes a cowman want to shout!
The cattle snuff the warm south air,
An' calves are friskin' ev'rywhere.

Each dry arroyo tinkles now
With music of a singin' stream;
IT kind o' seems to me somehow
Like Nature wakin' from a dream,
An' rubbin of her eyes, an' then
A-donnin' her spring duds again,

The dusty sagebrush sheds it stains
Of  powdery, pungent alkali,
An' at the comin' of the rains
It seems to give a heartfelt sigh,
An' shake itself a time er two
An' then bloom out in garments new.

The bunkhouse rings with joyous shouts!
There ain't a puncher feelin' sore,
Er even grouchy hereabouts,
Sence all the range waked up once more!
Jest hear 'em singin' as they ride
A-lopin' 'crost that big divide!

An' ev'ry bronco's wide awake,
An' gingery as he kin be;
They'll liven up an' no mistake,
When they hev browsed on filaree!
There ain't a spot on earth, by jing,
Like this cow ranch in early spring!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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A Cowboy's Version
 
When I'm ridin' alone in the night-time way out on the desolate range,
With the moon shinin' down through the cloud-hills and the canyons and draws lookin' strange
And the shadowy buttes loomin' dimly, way out where the coyotes call,
I know that the hand of no human conceived it and fashioned it all.
 
When I'm lopin' across the wide mesa where blossoms send out their perfume,
I know that an All-Wise Creator had somethin' to do with each bloom;
'Cuz no mortal hand on this planet could paint us them colors, I know,
Nor spangle the coulees and foothills with all the gay posies that grow.
 
I know that the greem of the ranges don't come at the biddin' of man;
The landscape makes all of them changes because of the Creator's plan.
I know that the beauties about me--the sunshine, the blooms and the rest,
Wa'n't put there by man nor his helpers, but at the good Lord's own behest.
 
And nights when I lie at the campfire and look at the stars in the sky,
I'm ready to own that no human made all of them planets on high'
But only the Boss of the Heavens reached down from the Home Ranch above,
And moulded and builded and fashioned the blossoms and ranges I love.
 

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Frederic Remington

He knew the West as only few have known;
     He knew the men; he knew the horses, too;
The swarthy, silent trapper, all alone,
    The cowman--and he knew what they could do.
The range to him was an open book;
    The peaks and crags and hills--he knew them well;
He knew the secrets in each canyon brook,
   And what the great plains whispered he could tell.

At his deft touch the canvas sprang to life;
     It glowed with all the colors of the West;
His paint-tubes told the horrors of the strife--
     The charge, the savage warwhoop and the rest.
He showed the white-topped wagons, jolting on;
     The grim and hardy plainsmen as they rode;
The campfire in the gray of early dawn;
     The pack-train with its lashed and swaying load.

He knew the cattle and the brands they bore;
     He drew them with a keen and master hand;
He saw and saved to us the West beofre
     There passed the remnants of that valiant brand.
He gave to us the cowboy--carefree, brave;
     The riders of the range he pictured true;
'Twas left for him their herds and them to save,
     Ere they had passed forever from our view.

A monument to him who knew the West!
     Whose brush so deftly told its every tale;
The horses and the men he loved best,
     When he, too, rode the dusty cattle trail.
A shaft to him whose canvas gleams and glows
    with colors of the life he loved so well;
And from whose painted pictures ever flows
    A charm which weaves o'er us a magic spell!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

Some good Remington links: The National Gallery, Amon Carter Museum, PBS/American Masters, The Sid Richardson Collection

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The Range Cook's "Holler"

They sing of the puncher--that knight of the range who rounds up the bellerin' steer;
Who rides at the head of the midnight stampede with nary a symptom of fear.
They tell of his skill with the six-gun and rope, but nobody mentions the dub
Who trails the chuck-wagon through desert and plain and never yet failed with the grub!.

The weather may find us in rain or in mud; may bake us or sizzle us down;
The treacherous quicksands may mire us deep, and the leaders and wheelers may drown;
The blizzards may howl and the hurricane blow, or injuns may camp on our trail,
But nary excuse will the foreman accept for havin' the chuck-wagon fail.

For off on the range is the puncher who rides through the buck-brush and sage and mesquite,
With an appetite fierce for the bacon we fry, and the slapjacks we bake him to eat.
And we must be waitin' with grub smokin' hot when he comes a-clatterin' in,
No matter what troubles we've bucked up agin, or what our delays may have been.

So in singin' yer songs of the men of the plains who trail it through desert and pine,
Who rough it from Idaho's borders clear down to the edge of the Mexican line,
Don't give all the due to the puncher of steers, but chip in some dope of the dub
Who trails the chuck-wagon in sun or in storm, and never yet failed with the grub!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Finale of the Puncher

When the last great herd has vanished,
And the open range is gone;
When the cattle are all banished,
And their numbers are withdrawn,
When the brandin' days are over,
And the ropin' is all through,
Then it is we'll sit and wonder
What's the cowpunch goin' to do?

When the cowman comes to sever
What connections he had left'
When the trail-herds pass forever,
And there ain't a cayuse left;
When the ol' chuckwagon rumbles
O'er the ridges out of view,
And the cook quits yellin' "Grub pile!"
What's the puncher goin' to do?

When the squealin', bruckin' bronco
Has become an ol' plow nag;
When the saddle and the poncho
Hand up in an ol' grain bag;
When his bits and spurs are rustin'.
And his gun is useless, too,
And there's no more round-ups startin'
What's the puncher goin' to do?

When the last night-herdin's finished,
And he's seen his last stampede,
When the bunkhouse gang's diminished,
And of brand-irons there's no need'
When the ol' worn yellow slicker
Is put by for store-duds new,
And his chaps have been discarded,
What's the puncher goin' to do?

When there ain't no wild west longer;
When the plains are seas of grain,
And the nesters crowd in stronger,
Till the cowman can't remain;
When ol' life's but a vision
To which he must bid adieu,
Tell me, oh, my ol' range pardners,
What's the puncher goin' to do?

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The West for Me

I love the peaks with their snow-bound caps; the stately  mountains grand;
The pungent smell of the bending pines that tower on either hand;
The streams that leap through canyons deep and the wind's low melody--
I heed their call, for I love them all--'tis the West, the West for me!

I love the stretches of desert gray; the brown buttes grim and high;
I love the scent of the sagebrush flats; the blue of the vaulted sky;
The charm and spell of each new draw and swell, and the shifting sand-dunes free;
They grip and hold as their charms unfold--aye, the West, the West for me!

I love the trail through the lonely hills to the door of the old log shack,
And an insist strong is luring on, a it calls and beckons back.
I love the croon of the low, sweet tune that sighs through the scrub-oak tree,
And the bubbling note from the wild-bird's throat--ah, the West, the West for me!

I love the herds on the open range; the riders who guard them well,
Who ride like fiends in the night stampede through the ocean of chaparral.
I love to dream in the campfire's gleam of the days as they used to be,
And the stalwart men who were heroes then--so the West, the West for me!

Oh, the boundless West, and the wild, free life that is spent in the open air,
With the handiwork of the God of All in the plains and the mountains there!
I love the sweep of the streams that creep from the hills to the throbbing sea,
And I hear their call as the shadows fall--oh, the West, the West for me!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Back to the Range

I've played the movin' picter game,
   An' worked it good an' hard,
But it is too all-fired tame
   For real cowpunchers, pard.
Them actor-guys are tenderfeet
   That never saw the range,
An' when they hit a saddle-seat,
   Their ridin's fierce an' strange!

They put us through a lot o' stunts
   That punchers never do;
A feller feels jest like a dunce
   Afore he gits half through.
It's al a lot o' honey-mush
   About some gal, by gee!
'Twould make an honest puncher blush
   Sich goin's on to see!

Becuz out on the range, you know,
   Around the chaparral,
We never had no time to go
   Close-herdin' any gal.
They's too much rustlin' 'round for strays,
   Or else a-buildin' fence,
Or brandin' calves on round-up days
   For any sich nonsense!

They ain't a cuss in all the bunch
   Kin cinch a saddle right;
'Twould fetch a snort from a cowpunch'
   Their togs is jest a fright!
The other day I most was floored
   Whilst watchin' of the boss
For in the film he climbed aboard
   The wrong side of his hawss!

I'm sick of all sich sights as those,
   I'll quit an' go back there
Among a bunkhouse bunch that knows
   The cowboy fame for fair.
I'll strike for my ol' stompin' ground
   Where range life is lived true,
Where there's no tenderfoot around
   To show me what to do!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Passing of the Old West

The West ain't what it used to be before the wire bands
Was stretchin' out on every side and fencin' in the lands;
There ain't the elbow room there was before the nester came
And squatted on the virgin soil to cultivate the same.

It used to be so big and wide, so boundless and so free,
As if a-stretchin' out its arms and sayin' "Come" to me;
And we who had our cattle herds, we let 'em roam at will;
There wasn't any grazin' zone on valley, swale or hill.

The West was boundless; there was room for all and room to spare;
Each cattle man was free to say that he was treated fair.
Before the plow and reaper, why, we simply came and went,
And with our herds a-waxin' fat, the cowman was content.

But now it's changed; they've hemmed us in and told us thus and so;
And they have fixed the boundaries where we may come and go;
We've got to hold our herds in hand, and fight for land to graze
Becuz they ain't a-runnin' things as in the good old days.

The sunset of our day is gittin' dimmer in the skies.
They're forcin' us to leave the lands we won, and which we prize.
It won't be long till Cattle Land is just a memory--
A vision of the old frontier in days that used-to-be.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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The Cowgirl

She ain't inclined to'rds lots o' things
     That eastern gals can do up brown;
She don't wear jewelry and rings,
     Like them swell girls what lives in town;
Her cheeks are tanned an olive tint,
     That shows the roses hidin' there;
Her eyes are brown, and there's a hint
     Of midnight in her wavin' hair.

She don't go in for fancy hats;
     A wide-brimmed Stetson is her pet;
She has no use for puffs and rats;
     A harem skirt would make her fret.
She wears a kerchief 'round her neck'
     At breaking broncs she shows her sand,
And at a round-up she's on deck,
     And twirls a rope with a practiced hand.

She doesn't know a thing about
     Them motor cars that buzz and whirr,
But when she goes a-ridin' out,
     A tough cow-pony pleases her,
Her hands are tanned to match her cheeks;
     Her smile will start your heart a-whirl,
And when she looks at you and speaks,
     You love this rosy, wild cowgirl!

She never saw a tennis court;
     She don't belong to any club,
But she is keen to all range sport,
     And she's a peach at cookin' grub!
She couldn't win at playin' whist'
     She wouldn't think that bridge was fun,
But say, the hombre doesn't exist
     That beats her handlin' a six-gun!

I don't believe she'd make a hit
     At them swell afternoon affairs;
She wouldn't feel at home a bit;
     Them ain't the things for which she cares.
She ain't so keen as some gals is
     At tryin' stunts that's new and strange,
But you can bet she knows her biz
     When she's out on the cattle range!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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A Range Rider's Appeal

Guard me, Lord, when I'm a -ridin'
'Crost the dusty range out there,
From the dangers that are hidin'
On the trails, so bleak and bare.
Keep my stumblin' feet from walkin'
In the quicksands of distress,
And my outlaw tongue from talkin'
Locoed words of foolishness.

When around the herd I'm moggin'
In the darkness of the night,
Or 'crost lonely mesas joggin'
With no one but You in sight,
Won't you ride, dear Lord, beside me,
When I see the danger sign,
And through storm and stampede guide me,
With Your hand a-holdin' mine?

May the rope of sin ne'er trip me
When to town for fun I go;
Let the devil's herders skip me
On their round-ups here below.
May my trails be decked in beauty
With the blossoms of Your love;
May I see and do my duty,
Ere I ride the range above.

Let me treat my foes with kindness'
May my hands from blood be free;
May I never, through sheer blindness,
Git the brand o' Cain on me.
On the range o' glory feed me'
Guide me over draw and swell,
And at last to heaven lead me,
Up into the Home Corral.

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Rainy Day in a Cow Camp

Gusty sheets o' rain a-fallin';
Yellow slickers our attire;
Wet, bedraggled longhorns bawlin';
Cook a-cussin' at the fire.
Grub all water-soaked and soggy;
Foreman's temper all a-flare;
Ev'ry puncher feelin' groggy'
'Dobe stickin' ev-rywhere!

Broncos standin' heads a-droppin'!
All their ginger plump soaked out;
Dumb to all the wrangler's whoopin';
An' to ev'ry puncher's shout.
Saddles sloppy an' a-slippin';
Cinches plastered full o' mud;
Ev'ry ol' sombrero drippin';
'Royos roarin' with the flood.

Ol' cow hawss a-slippin', slidin'
Up an' down the slushy hills;
Punchers all humped up a-ridin';
Ev'ry minnit has its thrills.
Wind a-whistlin'; skies a-weepin';
Slickers flappin' when we lope;
Rain inside our chaps a-creepin';
Kinks and' knots in ev'ry rope!

Ev'rybody blue and sour;
Not a sign o' sun in sight;
Jest a steady, soakin' shower
When we ride to camp at night.
Blankets sozzled, wet an' mussy;
Tarps all damp an' feelin' strange;
Ev'ry puncher mad an' cussy,
Hopin' mornin' brings a change!

 

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Juanita

Drear are the prairies; the ranges are silent;
Mournfully whispers each soft, passing breeze;
Down in the canyon and eddying murmur
Echoes the sigh through the giant pine trees.
Lone are the trails on the brown, dusty mesa,
Up where the gems of the star-world peep through;
Sadly the night-bird is plaintively calling --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

Out where the herds dot the range in the Springtime;
Out where the flowers you loved nod and sway,
Memory brings me a vision of sadness,
Brings me a dream of a once-happy day.
Over the trails you are riding beside me,
Under the canopied heavens of blue;
Smiling the love that your lips have repeated --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

When steals the night with its grim, dusky shadows,
As 'round the herd I am jogging along,
Your gentle face seem to lighten the darkness,
Each vagrant breeze seems to whisper a song;
Whispers a melody sweetly entrancing,
Telling me, dear, of your love ever true;
Whispers and echo which sets my heart dancing --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

 

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Sence Slim Got "Piled"

Slim Bates ain't braggin' any more
   About how he kin ride'
An' gosh, but he gets mighty sore
   Whenever he is guyed.
He uster be so full o' vim,
   So reckless an' so wild,
But there's change come over Slim
   Sence he got piled.

He uster tell of outlaw nags
   He'd gentled like a cow,
But Slim ain't makin' any brags
   Of tamin' outlaws now.
He's jest the humblest cuss, I swear,
   As meek as any child;
Slim dassn't even take a dare
   Sence he got piled!

Accordin' to Slim's flossy talk
   He was some cowpunch once;
The worst cayuse could pitch an' balk,
   An' try his wildest stunts;
But now Slim hangs his head in shame,
   For six weeks he ain't smiled;
Slim knows that he ain't in the game
   Sence he got piled.

Of course when he come driftin' in.
   We thought he knowed his biz;
We swallered all them yarns he's spin
   'Bout ridin' stunts o' his.
But now we pass him up with scorn,
   He's all but plum exiled;
Slim ain't a-tootin' of his horn
   Sence he got piled.

He's bogged hisself down good an' deep'
   He'd better drift along
An' git a job as herdin' sheep,
   'Cuz here he's in plumb wrong.
Nobody herds with Slim a bit,
   He's got this outfit r'iled;
He'll never hear the last of it
   Sence he got piled!

by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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Cattle Land's Farewell

There ain't no Cattle Land no more
     That isn't wire-fenced;
Things ain't the way they was before
     The Western rush commenced.
The open range that once we had,
     No more is grazin' grounds;
The cow game's goin' to the bad,
   When we are kept in bounds.

Our herds was free, in other days,
     To wander where they would;
No lines was set for them to graze;
     The got it where they could.
But now the onward march o' Time
     Has brought about a change,
And Cattle Land brands it a crime
     To grab another's range.

We wasn't warned by bands o' wire
     Which stretched their lengths ahead,
That we must herd our stock no nigher,
     But turn 'em back instead.
We didn't grab the water-holes
     And hold 'em for our own;
The old-time cattle-men had souls;
     There wa'n't no grazin' zone.

We neighbored in a friendly way,
     Though we was far apart;
Nobody told us go or stay,
    And we was big o' heart.
We loved the lands that held our herds,
     As long as we was free,
And didn't have no war o' words
     'Bout what our rights should be.

But now across our hard-won lands,
     They've stretched the wire through,
And put on us restrainin' hands,
     And told us what to do.
We're marchin' down the Western slope,
     'Tis Progress bids us go,
But in our breasts the fires o' Hope,
     Are burnin' dim and low!

by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

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On Night Herd

So-ho, longhorns! Quit yet callin!
     Bed down, now, and be good steers!
Stop that blamed infernal bawlin',
     Fer it's bedlam in my ears!
You're in fer a good ol' cussin'
     If you don't stop rangin' 'round!
Go to sleep and quite yer fussin',
     Pawin' up this well bed-ground!

So-ho, longhorns!  Stop yer proddin'!
     Quiet down and mind yer boss,
An' I'll sing to you whilst ploddin'
     'Round the herd on my ol' hoss.
I cain't bawl out like Caruso,
     But I'll try my level best;
If you want to hear me do so,
     Jest lie down an' go to rest!

So-ho, longhorns!  Stop that beller,
     Or you'll start a blamed stampede!
You'd jest like to make a feller
     Lead you on a bust o' speed!
Like to wake the boys a-lyin'
     Back there by the fire tonight,
So they'd hafto ride a-flyin'
     Fer to stop yer skeery flight!

So-ho, longhorns!  Stop that mooin'!
     Darn them Diamon' Circle cows!
All they want to be a-doin'
     Is a rangin' 'round to browse!
You ain't hungry; you've had water.
     An' you've had a bully feed;
Lie down, longhorns, like you oughter—
     Ain't a darned thing that you need!

So-ho, longhorns!  Now I wonder
     What the devil is that noise?
Gosh! it sounds to me like thunder!
     Reck'n I'd best wake the boys!
Hi, you punchers!  In yer saddles!
     Bunch 'em close an' hold 'em so!
Quick, afore the herd skeddadles!
     (WOOF!)  By hokey!  There they go!

          by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914
 

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The Range Rider's Soliloquy

Sometimes when on night-herd I'm ridin', and the stars are a-gleam in the sky,
Like millions of wee, little candles that twinkle and sparkle on high,
I wonder, if up there above 'em, are streets that are shinin' with gold,
And if it's as purty a country, as all the sky-pilots hev told?

I wonder if there are wide ranges, and rivers and streams that's as clear,
And plains that's as blossomed with beauty as them that I ride over here?
I wonder if summertime breezes up there are like zephyrs that blow
And croon in a cadence of sweetness and harmony down here below?

I wonder if there, Over Yonder, it's true that they's never no night,
But all of the hours are sunny and balmy and pleasant and bright?
I wonder if birds are a-singin' as sweetly through all the long day
As them that I hear on the mesa as I go a-lopin' away?

And sometimes I wonder and wonder if over that lone Great Divide
I'll meet with the boys who have journeyed across to the dim Farther Side?
If out on them great starry ranges some day in the future, I, too,
Shall ride on a heavenly bronco when earth's final roundup is through?

They tell us no storms nor no blizzards blow over that bloom-spangled range;
That always and ever it's summer—a land where there's never a change;
And nights when I lie in my blankets, and the star-world casts o'er me a spell,
I seem to look through on the glories that lie in that great Home Corral.

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"Suffrage" in Sagebrush

She come in by stage from Cayuse; she was young and fair to see,
And she had a bunch o' baggage and an air o' mystery.
Ev'rybody was a-wonderin' what her graft could be, until
Her hull reckerd was made public by ol' one-eyed Poker Bill.

She was out for woman suffrage, and it wasn't very long
Till she had ol' Sagebrush locoed by the flossy talk she slung;
But the Two-Bar foreman cussed her till it must hev burned her ears,
'Cuz he couldn't git a puncher to help load a car o' steers.

Why, she had them Two-Bar punchers all a-taggin' at her skirts,
Wearin' "Votes Fer Wimmen" ribbons on their faded ol' blue shirts!
Ev'ry feller was a-boostin' for her doctrin' good an' hard,
And the cow game was neglected; it was simply awful, pard!

She was holdin' daily meetin's over Pinto Pete's saloon,
And the Two-Bar bunch attended in a body ev'ry noon;
And the way she shot it to 'em—well, it wasn't long, you bet,
Till it would heve meant a killin' to hev knocked the suffragette.

The fever got to spreadin' till the Diamond Circle crew
Heard her give a talk one noonin' and that outfit caught it, too.
And there wasn't a cowpuncher on the range for forty mile
But was hot for woman suffrage—and the stranger woman's smile!

There's no knowin' how 'twould ended if she'd not eloped one day
With the Two-Bar's night hawss-wranger, although why, she didn't say;
But the foreman jaws and cusses in a way to beat the band
When he sights a female stranger gittin' off the Overland!

by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

 

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"Old Six Gun"

You've been a good old pal to me
     In all the years gone by;
You've saved my skin in many a spree,
     When death was lurkin' nigh;
You're rusted some an' battered too,
     But I ain't knockin' none,
'Cuz they's a heap I owe to you,
     You handy ol' six gun!

I packed you on a cattle trail
     'Way back in '86
An' never knowed you yet to fail
     When I got in a fix.
You've shot the lights out more'n once
     When we struck town fer fun,
An' done a heap o' them fool stunts,
     You handy ol' six gun!

When my ol' paws close on yer grip,
     I seem to see once more
The prairie stretches in The Strip,
      An' the ol' bunkhouse door
Where night-times we would sit an' gaze
     Off to'rds the settin' sun—
Oh, wasn't them the happy days,
     You handy ol' six-gun?

I mind them nights we stood on guard
     When we was trailin' steers,
When growlin' thunder ripped an' jarred
     An' grumbled in our ears.
An' how that stampede made us sweat!
     'Twas sure a lively run!
You barked a-plenty then, you bet,
     You handy ol' six-gun!

An' now you're hangin' on the wall,
     Where firelight shadows play;
I reck'n, takin' all in all,
     That you hev seen your day
But when I think what you've been through,
     An' all you've seen an' done,
A million plunks would not buy you,
     You handy ol' six-gun!

From Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1916

 

The Old Colt Gun

You've been a good old pal to me
     In all the years gone by;
You've saved my skin in many a spree,
     When Death was lurkin' nigh;
You're rusted some, an' battered too,
     But I ain't kickin' none,
'Cuz there's a heap I owe to you,
     You dandy old Colt gun!

I packed you on a cattle trail
     Way back in '86
And never knowed you yet to fail
     When I got in a fix.
You shot the lights out more'n once
     When we struck town fer fun,
And done a heap of other stunts,
     You bully old Colt gun!

When my old paws close on yer grip,
     I seem to see once more,
The prairie stretches in "The Strip,"
      And the old bunkhouse door
Where night-times we would sit and gaze
     Off to'rds the settin' sun—
Oh, wasn't them the happy days,
     You dandy old Colt gun?

I mind them nights we stood on guard
     When we was trailin' steers,
When growlin' thunder ripped and jarred
     And grumbled in our ears.
And how that stampede made us sweat!
     'Twas sure a lively run!
There was excitement then, you bet,
     You corkin' old Colt gun!

And now you're hangin' on the wall,
     Where firelight shadows play;
I reckon, takin' all in all,
     That you have had seen your day
But when I think what you've been through,
     And all you've seen and done,
A million plunks would not buy you,
     You bully old Colt gun!

 From Makers of History, 1926

 

 

"The Old Colt Gun" is included in Makers of History, a 1926 booklet by Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. It notes the poem's copyright as 1921, "—In Trail Dust of a Maverick." The poem on the left, "Old Six Gun," appears in the 1916 edition of Trail Dust of a Maverick.

Henry Herbert Knibbs' poem, the "The Tale of the Colt" is also in the booklet. View it here at the Connecticut State Archives' site.


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The Old Log Cabin

It stands alone on a treeless plain
An old log cabin, with sagging door

Its roof, all crumbling, allows the rain
To trickle in on the rough slab floor.
Where warmth and comfort were one time known,
And faces smiled in the backlog's blaze,
Deep silence broods, for good cheer has flown,
And left but an echo of former days.

Who knows the story of faith and hope,
Of days of labor and weary toil,
Of those, mayhap from an eastern slope,
Who came to nurture the virgin soil?
Who knows the struggle for life and bread,
Of years of waiting for wealth to come;
Of those who labored till courage fled,
On the boundless prairie to make a home?

The voices of children were doubtless heard
In merry laughter and happy song;
Perchance hearts ached for a cheery word,
And a friendly face as they toiled along.
But none can tell of the hopes and fears,
Of the dreams they dreamed as the days sped by'
Of their simple joys through the lonely years,
Till wealth each want should at last supply.

But the fire is cold on the hearthstone drear,
As the door swings idly, by breezes stirred;
Where one was the presence of warmth and cheer,
Now desolate echoes alone are heard.
But none may fathom the luckless tale,
And none the secrets may ever gain
Of that old log cabin beside the trail
In the lonely heart of a treeless plain.


by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914


 


Books


The Library of Congress list these books among those written by or arranged or edited by E. A. Brininstool:

Some of these books remain in print and most are available from used book sources.


Trail Dust of a Maverick by E. A. Brininstool, 1914


Includes:

Sunset on the Desert
The Country to the West
The Old Bunkhouse
The Stampede
The Trail-Herd
The Call from the West
The Desert
The Old Trapper Speaks
The Range Rider's Soliloquy
The Cowman's Loss
The Lure of the Desert
Silent Trails
The West for Me
The Mirage
The Last Drive
The Old Log Cabin
The Blizzard-Bound Herd
The Nester to the Cowman
A Range Rider's Appeal
Before the Rains
The Lure of the West
A Cattle Range at Night
Where the Sagebrush Billows Roll
The Old Line Shack
"Old Six-Gun"
Out in the Golden West
To an Old Branding Iron
My Desert Fastness
The Disappointed Tenderfoot
My Old Sombrero
Wyoming
The Old Yellow Slicker
Standing on His Merits
The Desert's Lure
The Homesick Cowboy
The Short-Grass County
His Trade-Marks
A Bunkhouse Revery
The Dying Cowboy
A Corral Soliloquy
The West
The Bunkhouse Boys
To a Bacon Rind
Frederic Remington
The Desert Prospector
Juanita
A Prairie Mother's Lullaby
Back to Arizona
A Voice from the Open
The Cowgirl
The Ol' Cow Hawss
The Range Dweller Talks
A "Bar-4" Bluffer
The Grub-Pile Call
The Return of a "Bud"
The Inevitable
A Roar from the Bunkhouse
Out of His Element
Remarks by "Bronco Bob"
Christmas Week in Sagebrush
On Night Herd
The Call of the Range
The Desert Serenader
My Bunkie
"Sheeped Out"
The Cowman Jubilates
The Cattle Rustlers
The Braggart
Desert Winds
Lure of the "Yellow Streak"
The Chisholm Trail
The Frontier Marshall
The Prodigal
Desert Dreams
A Cowboy's Version
Back to the Range
To His Cow Horse
Trouble for the Range Cook
Rainy Day in a Cow Camp
The Homesteader
The Old Cowman
To a "Triangle" Calf
The Man From Cherrycow
A Westerner
Cattle Land's Farewell
Sence Slim Got Piled
The Dead Pardner
The Coming of the Rain
The Land of the Sage
A Rebellious Cow Camp
Why "Zach" Feels Chesty
A Spoiled Outfit
The Old Trail Songs
Autumn on the Range
The "Finale" of the Puncher
A Change of Outfits
Only a Bronco
Passing of the Old West
A Cowpunch Courtship
The Range Cook's "Holler"
Cupid on a Cow Ranch
A Child of the Open
The Prospector
The Unknown Trail
"Off His Range"
The Range in Spring
Forest Conservation in Crimson Gulch
A Locoed Outfit
The Cabin on the Range
Riding the Range
The Trail to the Hills
Spring in Sagebrush Land
The New West
"Suffrage" in Sagebrush
Bad Man Jones
The Cowman's Saddle
His Cowgirl Sweetheart
Love on the "Bar X"
Unrest on the Range

 

 


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