The Woolly West: Colorado's Hidden History of Sheepscapes

The Woolly West: Colorado's Hidden History of Sheepscapes

by Andrew Gulliford


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Winner, 2019 National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Western Heritage Award for the Best Nonfiction Book
Winner, 2019 Colorado Book Awards History Category, sponsored by Colorado Center for the Book

In The Woolly West, historian Andrew Gulliford describes the sheep industry’s place in the history of Colorado and the American West. Tales of cowboys and cattlemen dominate western history—and even more so in popular culture. But in the competition for grazing lands, the sheep industry was as integral to the history of the American West as any trail drive.

With vivid, elegant, and reflective prose, Gulliford explores the origins of sheep grazing in the region, the often-violent conflicts between the sheep and cattle industries, the creation of national forests, and ultimately the segmenting of grazing allotments with the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Deeper into the twentieth century, Gulliford grapples with the challenges of ecological change and the politics of immigrant labor. And in the present day, as the public lands of the West are increasingly used for recreation, conflicts between hikers and dogs guarding flocks are again putting the sheep industry on the defensive.

Between each chapter, Gulliford weaves an account of his personal interaction with what he calls the “sheepscape”—that is, the sheepherders’ landscape itself. Here he visits with Peruvian immigrant herders and Mormon families who have grazed sheep for generations, explores delicately balanced stone cairns assembled by shepherds now long gone, and ponders the meaning of arborglyphs carved into unending aspen forests.

The Woolly West is the first book in decades devoted to the sheep industry and breaks new ground in the history of the Colorado Basque, Greek, and Hispano shepherding families whose ranching legacies continue to the present day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623496524
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication date: 07/17/2018
Series: Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series in the West and Southwest , #44
Pages: 420
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

ANDREW GULLIFORD is professor of history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and the author of Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology and Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions. He is a frequent contributor to “Writers on the Range” of High Country News and Utah Adventure Journal, and he resides in Durango.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Why Study Sheep, Sheepherders, and Carved Aspen Trees? 1

First Sheepscape Searching for Sheepscapes and Finding Stock Driveways-White River National Forest 11

Chapter 1 Sheep across the Southwest 23

Second Sheepscape Buckles Lake, Counting Corrals, and V Rock-San Juan National Forest 33

Chapter 2 The Beginning of Colorado's Cattle and Sheep Wars, 1880-1905 43

Third Sheepscape Elkhorn Stock Driveway-Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests 67

Chapter 3 The US Forest Service in Colorado, a Sheep Army, and the Fight over Government Grass, 1905-1920 77

Fourth Sheepscape Going to the Mountain-Glade Park and Piñon Mesa 115

Chapter 4 Basque and Greek Sheepmen, the Taylor Grazing Act, and End of the Range Wars, 1920-1934 121

Fifth Sheepscape Dead Mule on a Cabin Porch-Lone Mesa State Park and a Sacred Penitente Calvario 151

Chapter 5 Hispano Herders, Drought, and the Great Depression, 1934-1941 161

Sixth Sheepscape Lone Cone and Beaver Park-Uncompahgre National Forest 185

Chapter 6 Sheepherding after World War II from Canyonlands to Wilderness, 1945-1970 203

Seventh Sheepscape Sheepshed Art-South Park 225

Chapter 7 Outdoor Recreation and Landscape Restoration: Hikers, Guardian Dogs, and Bighorns, 1970 to the Present 233

Eighth Sheepscape Cairns-Stinking Desert and Horsethief Trail 259

Chapter 8 The Future of Colorado's High Country: Ailing Aspens, Peruvian Herders, and Ethnic Lamb 267

Ninth Sheepscape Sheepscapes and Understanding Herders' Lives 281

Chapter 9 Old West, New West, Next West: Sheep, Ski Areas, Wolves, and Endangered Species 297

Historical Hispanic Herding Terms 325

Notes 329

Glossary 363

Selected Bibliography 367

Index 391

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