1994 29¢ Home on the Range
Legends of the West
Issue Date: October 18, 1994
City: Laramie, WY, Tucson, AZ and Lawton, OK
Quantity: 19,282,800 panes
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 10.1 x 10
Although the cowboy has been immortalized in American folklore, the first “cowboys” were Mexicans who did their riding and roping in the provinces of California and Texas. Calling themselves vaqueros, from the Spanish word for cow, they crafted a legacy of skills, language, and style that would live on in the American cowboy.
When Texans returned home after the Civil War, they found the plains teeming with wild longhorns. Worth $4 in Texas, a longhorn steer would fetch $40 or more back East. Soon the cattle business was booming and the cowboy became its working class. Unlike some other heroes of the West, the cowboy came by his fame honestly. He worked at a brutally hard job, tackling tasks that required agility, strength, and courage.
Riding the open range he would tend the herds of cattle, rounding them up in spring so the calves could be branded and the young bulls neutered. In the fall, the cowboys would cut the marketable steers from the herd and drive the cattle to cow towns where they were shipped East on the railroads. A major event in a cowboy’s life, the trail drive lasted 2-3 months and covered as much as 1,500 miles.
The era of the open range did not last long. By 1885, advancing homesteaders, the invention of barbed wire, and fierce blizzards brought an end to the cowboy’s way of life.