The rise of the Cowboy came with the great cattle drives after the civil war. Texas was virtually bankrupt, but there was one unclaimed asset in the west. Texas Longhorns outnumbered people 9 to 1. By 1880, 10 million Longhorns had been driven across the Panhandle and Oklahoma to the Kansas railheads for shipment to Chicago and New York. At 40 dollars a head, (about 1000 dollars today) valuable and needed currency was pumped back into the Texas economy.
To round up and drive large herds of Longhorns required a skilled horse rider who could endure long days of dusty, dirty grueling work. Thus, hundreds of yound, adventuresome and sometimes reckless men found a way to make a living and the Cowboy was born. He wore leather chaps to protect his clothes and skin from the thorny bushes and cattle. He drank hard and gambled with his meager earnings of less than a dollar a day. He had to have a horse which could cost him 10 dollars and a good saddle could set him back 40 dollars.
Today, you can still find Cowboys workind cattle ranches form Texas to Montana, using the same tools and methods of the 1800's.