The log of a cowboy: a narrative of the old trail days

Front Cover
Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1903 - Fiction - 387 pages
3 Reviews

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

J. frank Dobie, an authority closer to the time period described this book as the best memoirs to be found of real life on the trail. I'm going to agree. It's not that much like the TV show, "Rawhide", but it seems true. Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Published in 1903, the book tells the story of a five month long cattle drive that took the Circle-Dot long horns from just south of Brownsville up into the Indian territory of the Blackfoot Agency – a journey of over 3000 miles.
Though fictionalized, Adams fills the story with his observations of life on the trail. And while the writing style is not always polished, the book is engaging, and even charming, as it depicts the inherent loneliness, comradery, gambling, drama and excitement in Adam's understated manner.
Many have claimed that this book is semi-autobiographical, and there is enough detail to make this assertion believable. Certainly for the history-focussed reader there is a great deal to learn about the structure of a trail drive, who did what, etc.
Summary :::
Despite being fiction, “Log of a Cowboy” remains a wonderful historical resource. Persons interested in the Old West should find it a satisfying read, although they should not expect a overly polished presentation. For those who are considering this book for younger readers it should be noted that there are some very non-PC (politically correct) speech and actions. This book was written, after all, over one hundred years ago.
Taken from a review by Pam T. at

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 304 - When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee: I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Page 63 - No sooner was the milling stopped than they would surge hither and yon, sometimes half a mile, as ungovernable as the waves of an ocean. After wasting several hours in this manner, they finally turned back over the trail, and the utmost efforts of every man in the outfit failed to check them. We threw our ropes in their faces, and when this failed we resorted to shooting ; but in defiance of the fusillade and the smoke they walked sullenly through the line of horsemen across their front. Six-shooters...
Page 64 - Six-shooters were discharged so close to the leaders' faces as to singe their hair, yet, under a noonday sun, they disregarded this and every other device to turn them, and passed wholly out of our control. In a number of instances wild steers deliberately walked against our horses, and then for the first time a fact dawned on us that chilled the marrow in our bones — the herd was going...
Page 68 - They used to tell the story in the army, that during one of the winter retreats, a cavalryman, riding along in the wake of the column at night, saw a hat apparently floating in the mud and water. In the hope that it might be a better hat than the one he was wearing, he dismounted to get it. Feeling his way carefully through the ooze until he reached the hat, he was surprised to find a man underneath and wearing it. 'Hello, comrade,' he sang out, 'can I lend you a hand?
Page 29 - ... in the morning until they are bedded at night, never let a cow take a step, except in the direction of its destination. In this manner you can loaf away the day, and cover from fifteen to twenty miles, and the herd in the meantime will enjoy all the freedom of an open range. Of course, it's long, tiresome hours to the men; but the condition of the herd and saddle stock demands sacrifices on our part, if any have to be made. And...
Page 62 - Good cloudy weather would have saved us, but in its stead was a sultry morning without a breath of air, which bespoke another day of sizzling heat. We had not been on the trail over two hours before the heat became almost unbearable to man and beast. Had it not been for the condition of the herd, all might yet have gone well ; but over three days had now elapsed without water for the cattle, and they became feverish and ungovernable.
Page 29 - Boys the secret of trailing cattle is never to let your herd know that they are under restraint. Let everything that is done be done voluntarily by the cattle. From the moment you let them off the bed ground in the morning until they are bedded at night, never let a cow take a step, except in the direction of its destination. In this manner you can loaf away the day, and cover from fifteen to twenty miles, and the herd in the mean time will enjoy all the freedom of an open range.
Page 58 - ... no serious deprivation, and no one could be critical of another, for we were all equally dusty and dirty. The next morning by daybreak the cattle were thrown off the bed ground and started grazing before the sun could dry out what little moisture the grass had absorbed during the night. The heat of the past week had been very oppressive, and in order to avoid it as much as possible, we made late and early drives. Before the wagon passed the herd during the morning drive, what few canteens we...
Page 280 - Now, Miller, the foreman, didn't have any sympathy for them; in fact he delighted to see them in that condition. He hadn't any use for a man who wasn't dead tough under any condition. I've known him to camp his outfit on alkali water, so the men would get out in the morning, and every rascal beg leave to ride on the outside circle on the morning roundup. 'Well, three days before Christmas, just when things were looking gloomiest, there drifted up from the Cheyenne country one of the old-timers. None...
Page 191 - The buffalo hunters and range men have protested against the iron rule of Dodge's peace officers, and nearly every protest has cost human life. Don't ever get the impression that you can ride your horses into a saloon, or shoot out the lights in Dodge; it may go somewhere else, but it don't go there.

Bibliographic information