HISTORY: Snapshots from Turn-of-the-Century Life on a Wyoming Cattle Ranch

The other day I was poking around the University of Wyoming photo archives (as you do) when I stumbled across the work of a photographer named Charles Belden. In magazines across the country from 1914 to 1940, Charles' photographs documented life on the Pitchfork Ranch in Wyoming for millions of curious readers. Charles had a real eye for drama and composition, and he was brilliant with his use of light. This collection is an absolute treasure, depicting the romance and richness of the wild, wild West along with the challenges and mundanity of daily life on a sheep and cattle ranch. If you're having a bad day or need a little inspiration, jump into the American Heritage Center archive and see what you find!


"If a picture doesn't tell a story, it's not worth taking."

-Charles Belden



Charles Belden with his camera,




Midday refreshment.


Little ranch girls ride in the snow.



Dippin'.


Tribal dance.



Cowboy camp.


Off to the branding.


Carrying a calf home in a blizzard.


Loading cattle onto CB&Q cattle cars.



Cowgirl sittin' pretty on a fence.


Roping cattle in the high country.


Hard at work on the Pitchford Ranch.


That's one way to get where you're going.


Corralling horses.


Outlook.


Wyoming mountain polo.


Girl holding a coyote, casual-like.


Watching the rodeo. Check out all those great hats.


Native American on horseback.


Quality time.


Five cowhands have a good laugh at a greenhorn attempting to throw a rope.


Action shot of a cowboy roping.



Five "dude girls" or Western tourists visit a ranch in their fanciest duds.


Up at sheep camp.


Little dude on a horse.



Cowpokes enjoy a magazine.


Horse corral.


Just a little showin' off for the camera.


A cuppa joe with cooky.


Shots and brands.


Cowboys around the campfire.




All photos courtesy of the Charles J. Belden Collection, University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.