Thursday, November 18, 2010

A. B. Snyder, Pinnacle Jake

Herding cattle, Montana, 1910
This cowboy memoir takes readers back to the 1890s, as remembered by A. B. Snyder, known as "Pinnacle Jake," who cowboyed for the 101 ranch. This huge agribusiness ran thousands of cattle on the open ranges of Wyoming and Montana. The company headquarters were in eastern Nebraska, where there was a massive operation of barns and feedlots.

Like many other cowboys of that era, Snyder was a teenager when he left his home in southern Nebraska near the Kansas border, and he worked for the 101 - often as a rep - into his mid-20s. His reminiscences are chiefly of the many men that he worked with, and his account covers the different jobs and responsibilities that he was given to do.

Cowboys are known for practical jokes and hair-raising stunts, and readers will be entertained by a variety of these. As a bronc buster, Snyder also has an equally vivid memory of the horses he rode. One escapade involves the chasing down of a runaway horse, which eludes capture for days on the open range.

We are also reminded of the risks in this line of work, as Snyder tells of death by lightning and other accidents. In one incident, an already one-handed cook plunges with his mule team and chuck wagon down a steep slope and breaks both arms and a leg.

Unusual for this kind of writing is the high toll of casualties reported among horses, as many are lost to injury, drowning, and other mishaps. Though out of print, this book is worth finding and adding to any shelf of cowboy lit. It includes many vintage photographs of the era.

Picture credit:

Coming up: Zane Grey, Heritage of the Desert (1910)

1 comment:

  1. I'll keep my eye out for it. My list is getting pretty long.