-by Greg Hoots-
Today’s Photo Friday view was taken in a pasture near Eskridge, Kansas in the early 20th century. A large herd of “Texas cattle” are seen on an expansive pasture, and in the lower left hand corner, a surrey with a fringe on top contains two men and a child who are observing the herd. In the background, three cowboys are visible on horseback, and a box wagon with two men aboard is seen in the middle of the herd.
One of the most unusual things about this photo is that the individuals in the back seat of the surrey appear to be wearing masks. During the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919, many cities, particularly in the western states, enacted mask ordinances in an effort to curb the rampant spread of the deadly flu. Perhaps the guy in the back of this rig was concerned about catching the virus, or maybe he was coughing, himself.
After the coming of the railroad to Wabaunsee County in 1880, large groups of cattle followed, which were fed from April to October (generally speaking) on the rich tallgrass pastures. The cattle arrived by train, contained in wooden boxcars with slatted sides. The cattle would gain weight all summer, before being shipped to feedlots and packing houses for processing.
Today’s photo comes from the collection of Charlie and Jan Waugh; thanks to them for sharing this image.
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