Working cowboys and cattle drives have dominated the covers of True West for 70 years.

Did True West’s founder Joe Small have a soft spot in his heart for cowboys? You bet he did and so have all the owners and editors ever since, including current executive editor and co-owner Bob Boze Bell and publisher and co-owner Ken Amorosano.

From Randy Steffen’s famous first cover art painting of a cattle drive drover bucking out a rank mount to the current issue’s cover portrait of Teddy Blue Abbott and two cowboy compatriots in Miles City, Montana, in 1884, the world-renowned American icon has graced the magazine’s covers more than any other subject. 

Fortunately for True West, the working American cowboy, ranching and rodeo are still alive and thriving across the country. In fact, despite generations of writers and pundits declaring the end of the cowboy and claiming to have interviewed the “last working cowboy,” the cowboy is as popular at home and abroad as he—and she—have ever been. (For more how Texan Taylor Sheridan has helped boomerang the cowboy back into the world’s popular culture, read Henry Parke’s column on page 60.)

Luckily for us at True West, when cowboys seemed to reach their nadir in popular culture, the working men and women of American ranches screwed their hats down tight and just kept working. They know who they are and have never needed us to affirm their work ethic and way of life. But the fact is, we’ve never wavered on giving the working waddies their due. To us at True West, they are still the kings and queens of the open range. And based on our readers’ interests, cowboys—and cowgirls—will continue to dominate the covers of True West.

Related Articles

  • For 70 years, True West magazine’s editors and contributors have been among the greatest chroniclers…

  • Tricia Martineau Wagner (Two Dot Press, $16.95)

    Westward Migration and Manifest Destiny brought hundreds of thousands of folks out West, not the…

  • Remembering Great Granddad through historic photographs of South Texas pioneers.

    As a teen in the 1880s, my great-grandfather Tolbert Alexander Burford worked as a wrangler…