When it comes to the Old West, history has failed to record the female equivalent to cowboys, working on the cattle trails. However, cowgirls of the wild west, in fact, did significant ranch work and in many cases usually when men went to war or on long cattle drives, they ran them.
Luckily a prolific photographer of that time Evelin Cameron captured and documented the life of cowgirls working on ranch during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Cowgirls first rose to fame with the advent of the Wild West Shows. All of the cowgirls were very talented performers and demonstrated riding, trick roping and marksmanship which was pretty entertaining for the mass audiances around the world. Skirt Split for riding astride became popular at turn of the century and was more convenient for the cowgirls to compete alongside men without breaking the austere etiquette of the Victorian Era.
Cowgirls expanded their roles in the popular culture by showing up in movies, so the movie designerscreated attractive clothing proper for riding Wester saddles.
Women competed in all events, sometimes against other cowgirls and sometimes against cowboys. Fannie Sperry Stelle was one the most popular cowgirls of the time. She rode the same ” rough stock” and took the same risks as men, while wearing a large split skirt more encumbering than the men’s trousers. Fannie competed at majors rodeos such as Cheyenne Frontier Days and Calgary Stampede.