Book shares behind the scenes images of the cowboys during the last days of family ownership of one of the nation’s largest ranches
FORT WORTH – As Waggoner Ranch’s sale awaits, a Texas photographer unveils his inaugural photography book, “Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch.”
Now available for online presale, the limited-edition book is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the 510,572-acre ranch’s 26 Cow Camp workers who practice skills that have almost disappeared. Unlike their modern-day counterparts of the ranch’s horse operation, the work of these cowboys has changed little since Daniel Waggoner claimed his preemption grant of 160 acres in 1854 and struck out with 242 head of longhorns and six horses for the rolling prairies of west Texas.
“I’ve lived on and been a part of the Waggoner Ranch since I was six months old – almost 69 years. I grew up with the cowboys, ate at the wagon and the big round table at headquarters. I’ve known the cowboys who stayed 50 years and the ones just passing through,” stated Helen Biggs Willingham, joint owner of the Waggoner Ranch, in a press release.
“They rise before dawn, ride tall in the saddle all day whether the day is sunny or a cold and biting wind swirls around them as they saddle their chosen mounts. They no longer battle Indians and outlaws of old, but they face the elements of nature every day; dust, drought, rattlesnakes, gopher holes, ornery cattle and the ever-present mesquite.”
Willingham continued: “Some people think of the cowboy as a half-mythological folk hero, just a symbol of the American West. The Waggoner Cowboys are real people. They are essential to the daily operation and success of this outfit. They are proud to ride for the 3D brand. Our cowboys have been a vital cog in the wheel of Waggoner success for many years. The pride they have in this organization is evidenced by the hard work they put in day after day, preserving a very special way of life.”
Fort Worth-based photographer Jeremy Enlow was given exclusive access to the Cow Camp operation behind the prestigious reversed triple D brand of the Waggoner Ranch, the largest ranch in the United States under one contiguous fence.
“Most everyone I know with a ‘real’ job couldn’t last five minutes cowboying on the Waggoner,” Enlow stated in the press release. “They physically abuse their bodies with a finesse that’s mastered with years of experience. There is no break until the job is done. Whether it rains, sleets or snows, the cowboys are always working. Those cowboys are one tough bunch.”
Enlow shared further that his life-changing experience being immersed with the cowboys for days at a time was both eye-opening and mouth-closing.
“The cowboys work extremely well together with little words spoken. Maybe that’s why they accepted me? Before I spoke, I thought long and hard about what to say; otherwise, I feared I’d be left for the buzzards in the mesquites without cell phone service,” he stated.
Enlow partnered with writer Jan Nichols Batts, a native Texan who started her professional career when she was 14 years old as a reporter for The Abilene Reporter-News.
Committed to supporting local business with maximum production quality, Enlow self-published the hardcover Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch (140 pages – 12” tall x 10.5” wide), which was printed in Fort Worth by Four Color Press on 100# glossy stock.
The book retails for $58 and is available for presale at waggonercowboys.com. Advance purchases will be shipped no later than Nov. 1, with books also at select retail locations at that time. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to The Waggoner Ranch Cowboys Fund.
A select number of signed and numbered fine art prints from the exclusive book are also available, starting at $1,500. For more information – including an upcoming list of retails locations offering the book in November – please see one of the following websites.
Facebook – Cowboys of Waggoner Ranch
Twitter – @WaggonerCowboys