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One Photo: One Story; A cowboy named Boot.

It was fitting we met him after working our machines over

tiny wagon trails, that just over a hundred years ago, beasts of burden and men carried tons of rock, slag and precious stones.

This land was worked hard and evidence of it still lay about. Skeletons of steel, gears, tools and food cans

lay about as if just abandoned yesterday. The rust screams its history and place in time. It’s a land hardened by dynamite, men, whiskey, gold and the pursuit if it. The canyon holds the secrets of these men and the lengths

they went to obtain their prize. The hills and the darkness haunted by graft, claim jumping, treachery and murder. Quiet now, except for the rumblings of our engines. Here, men died for Gold.

Miners who handled the widow-maker had sweaty shirts as protection. We rode our ATV’s over these sacred grounds with ease, helmets protecting our heads. We are protected by law and common sense. The men who worked here had no protection and maybe only the sense to survive by digging.

A loaded-up mule cart would have taken 12 hours of hard riding to cover what our ATV’s conquer in minutes. Up the canyon and down over rocks and dusty trails, we travel at leisure.

The wagon trails were deadly. A 12-hour trip to the Colorado River meant being away from camp for a whole day. No man wanted to spend the night on the trail due to various dangers like bushwhackers, Indians and wild animals.

Along the trail we whiz past remnants of a different age, machines that a modern man wouldn’t understand rusty cans that once held food, drill bits, tools and strange metal objects that moved the earth, all dying in the desert. You can sense the hard work done here. The land is still tired.

Men died of exhaustion and thirst and they died from gun fights, accidents, and scores settled with pistols. They died in the mines from falls and cave ins and explosions.

Here on this warm spring day we ride casually over their trail of sorrows, labor and in some cases riches. The land was fought for and worked by men worked the mines in 18-hour shifts.

Today we ride the canyon on steel horses with ease and no fear of bushwhackers and rattlesnakes.

At the end of our ride we meet Boot. Boot’s grilling cowboy steaks, potatoes and corn. He’s serving us up lunch. Boot is tall, slim and rugged.

He wears a dusty cowboy hat, red bandana around his neck, blue jeans and steel toed boots.

He has a disarming smile yet seems wary of people that enter his canyon.

His Fu Manchu mustache is long and runs down to his chin. At the top it looks like he is growing another mustache. Two mustaches on this hombre, I never met a man with two mustaches. My drawing of Boot:

He tells us how difficult it is to live here and work in Eldorado, Canyon not for himself but for the former residents, the miners of the 1800’s. He prefers to live out here, alone, its where he belongs. He rarely goes to town and never to Las Vegas. He was recently in town to renew his veteran’s benefits and left right away.

He wears through blue jeans as if they were paper and wears out his boots easily from the cactus and minerals in the desert sand. He orders supplies once a month and has them delivered by truck. He tries to plan his order carefully because as he says, “There ain’t no Walmart down the street”.

He tells us the miners had to order once a month and be careful not to underestimate the monthly need. It would be a two month wait for any supply if that were the case. Miners wouldn’t like a two month wait for


A camp clerk had to be organized and so does Boot.

Boot mentions Las Vegas again, 45 minutes west and says he has no reason to go there. He belongs out here in the canyon. A guest who traveled with us asked if he lives with his wife. He said he has tried to get girls to live with him out here but they just won’t. “I can’t get a girl to live my life out here so, I stopped really trying. But I live out here and at times it gets lonely, with the coyotes and old mines. It suites me and its where I belong”.

He’s about 40 but looks many years younger, our man Boot.

Boot the cowboy with two mustaches keeps trespassers off the land.

He told us about a young man around 20 who was caught riding his motorcycle on well posted land. The first time he approached him and nicely asked him to leave. The young man said he would, and Boot went about his two

mustached business. An hour later he spotted the young man again. A second time he was nice but less polite about asking him to leave. The man said he would a second time.

The third time, Boot saw the motorcyclist tearing up the desert and riding off the trails; he was angry. He approached and asked the motorcyclist to dismount. He did not.

The second time he asked the motorcyclist to dismount, he moved too slowly. Boot shot the motorcycle with a .357 magnum and made him walk home. That man walked home scared with a new respect for our man Boot, cowboy with two mustaches and maybe an extra testicle.

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