April 20, 2012
Yesterday I whipped out a sketch for a new True West Moment on The Hashknife Outfit, a legendary ranch in northern Arizona.
The Aztec Land & Cattle Company was formed in 1884 by a group of Eastcoast investors and Western ranchers who paid a million bucks at 50 cents an acre. The "ranch" was 90 miles long and 40 miles wide with headquarters near present-day Saint Joseph, Arizona (later moving to Holbrook). Unfortunately, they bought it from the railroad which meant that the land was checker-boarded (the railroads got free land along their routes, but this free land included every other section). The cowboys who worked for the Hashknife were notorious for their fistfightin', shootin' exploits, but unfortunately, no great name came out of the period and so, the outfit is perhaps a little more famous than it really was. Still, a very cool name (named for the kind of knife that chuckwagon cooks used to cut veggies. ha. True.).
Anyway, got to looking at the sketch yesterday afternoon and thought I could improve on the horse and rider at left. Decided to do some due diligence and this morning I pulled down a book on Ed Borein and Remington and redid the sketch before I came into work:
Included the actual brand on a crossbar. The poaching reference is pretty obvious: that's Ed Borein on the right, Remington on the left and the two middle guys are from a Desert Caballeros Museum photo of hispanic cowboys. Of course they are all changed 20% to avoid any copyright entanglements, but still, I like to admit my inspirations.
Was the extra effort worth it? I think so. Gee, I wonder what ol' Faulkner has to say about this?
"Try to be better than yourself."