Lure of the West

What isย  the Lure of the West?

What draws us? Beyond smokin’ hot cowboys, that is. ๐Ÿ™‚ Is it the setting? Is it the courage? Is it the tenacity and work ethic?

I never expected to write historicals even though I love history. Even though I drink history like a good-for-me protein shake… Even though I dragged my kids to the Genesee Country Village and Museum every single year… and sent them to a school that dragged them there a couple of times, too!

I would love to have this old cart on display at my pumpkin farm!!! Gorgeous!

The lure of the west… a country, untamed. A people displaced for expansion.

 

The Hornbeck Farmstead. Now there’s history, for you…

An expansion that refused to be stopped. Two cultures, divided. One strong. One losing strength. Different ideologies. Different beliefs. One faction that believed in ownership. One who decried it.

There was sadness with the push west, sadness that wasn’t limited to Native American tribes. Pioneers lost families. They buried children. Many children. They buried young wives, lost in childbirth. And they lost homes to fires, fires that swept forest lands and dried, thick-grassed prairies, fires that destroyed the dried-out thatch of grass but spurred thick, green grazing grass for the following year.

It took courage to go west. Courage to put everything you thought you’d need into a covered wagon and WALK CROSS COUNTRY. Can you imagine that? To walk cross-country, through streams and over hills and through thick grass… How quickly those wagons left their marks in the ground, a trail formed by wagon after wagon, trekking west.

In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books we get a clear picture of the stop-and-go of westward expansion, a family that stopped here, stopped there, never giving up despite being removed from land, facing plagues of locusts, fire, hostile tribes, disease and accidents.

That bravery, that raw courage, built a nation. Then the railroad, on the heels of that expansion, opening up the vast countryside in every direction.

In a space of forty years, such a dot in a planetary timeline, the face of a country was changed, and continues to change to this day.

I loved Margaret Brownley’s post the other day about laboratory-produced beef…. Oh mylanta, the very thought of allowing ourselves to be completely dependent on anything or any industry for our food is ridiculous.ย  Think of the repercussions that can make every teen dystopian novel come true… to put ourselves in the hands of government and/or big business and lose that self-sustaining impetus…. I’m going to just say: Not smart.

The more we know, the safer we are.

The more we do, the better we feel.

The more we grasp, the better we maintain.

And that was the lure of the West… to face nature and not only survive but thrive… to face hunger and make do… and be the benchmark for generations to come. To face want and learn to appreciate every little thing we have…

Remember Sally Field in Murphy’s Romance? How she tells her son to appreciate the rags, the bits of this and that… That you’ve got to “use it up, make it last, wear it out…”

A Western mentality, and when I’m in the West or Midwest, a lot of people, the heartland people, still practice all these little things.

They call the Heartland the “fly-over” states…. the way to get from coast to coast. Now there’s nothing wrong with the coasts, but the very different mindset of so many people living in big cities in the East and West… Their normal is their normal. They think of it as normal because it’s what they know.

But that Heartland…. the wide open prairies and the Big Montana Sky…. The plains of Texas and the mountains of Idaho (which is seeing a huge upswing in population!!! WHAT????) ๐Ÿ™‚ The small farms and wide spreads of Washington and Oregon…

Before you get to the coast!

The lure is still there. It lives… and may it live a long time because I don’t want my beef raised in a lab, shaped like a Porterhouse…

I want it raised in the field… with a side trip to the grain lot!

Cooked over a wood fire….ย  Yep. There’s the lure.

๐Ÿ™‚

SO THEN THERE’S THIS!!!!!!

So far two of my Double S Ranch books are being translated into POLISH!!!! They will be reading about my Washington cowboys in Poland! SWEET!!!! And right now, available nationwide, is this beautiful story…

“Her Secret Daughter”… You will love Josie Gallagher’s story… and you’ll fight for her every step of the way… a story ripped from the headlines before there were headlines…. You’ll find it at Walmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, about anywhere mass market paperbacks are sold. And I hope you’ll love it!ย  Coincidentally I have a copy to give away today…. Leave a comment and I’ll put your name into the cowboy hat!

Ruth Logan Herne
Multi-published, bestselling, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a small farm in Western New York surrounded by grown kids, cute grandkids, cats, dogs, chickens, frogs, toads and snakes. That's why writing Westerns doesn't scare her. Not one smidge. Because she's surrounded by critters of all sorts, and has been known to teach lessons on snakes as available... She started writing Westerns by accident/invitation, and L-O-V-E-D it... matched with her love for both historicals and contemporaries, Ruthy's working on a new Western series for Love Inspired, New England mysteries for Guideposts and her historical Westerns for the indie market in 2018. She loves God, her family, her country and absolutely, positively loves what she does!
Updated: January 28, 2018 — 5:46 am

29 Comments

  1. I love historicals especially those of the old west. So what lures me? I think itโ€™s the history incorporated in each book, the grandeur of how our West was settled, and the love that was found during these hard times that shaped our history of America.

    1. Tonya, I remember my mother once telling me (she was not in a good frame of mind at this point in her life…) that there is “NO ROMANCE IN POVERTY!”

      But then in my head I re-defined poverty… two people, willing to sacrifice to make a goal for themselves… but mostly for future generations. Two people, slogging through the day to day struggles of staking a claim, with or without children… when they might not live twenty years of its fulfillment.

      But their children would. Some, anyway.

      I love the joined sacrifice! Noble goals… The American Dream.

  2. I’m not so sure historicals haven’t become my favorite genre which I never would have believed way back when. I learn more about history from them than I ever did in a history class! I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books. I’m always looking for a new author to add to my go to authors list! It’s growing and I only started reading again after decades of not reading 14 months ago and I’ve read over 100 books! Loved you blog!!

    1. Stephanie I love both genres…. but there’s something delightfully simple about the old West, maybe because we see it that way. And of course it was anything but simple because folks had to work so hard… but there weren’t the crazy distractions we allow today… Ah…. ๐Ÿ™‚ Life without distractions!!!!

  3. I love the history of the west. I love reading about the west. I love historical, western romance. Could I have lived there? Nope. I need my modern washer and dryer, I like my air conditioning.
    Also, I really want steak now. Thanks, Ruthy.

    1. I’m just getting over the flu…. so a steak sounds mighty good! And not a lab-produced steak! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love my indoor plumbing…. and my big Kitchenaid Mixer!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ And gas oven for baking….

      So I’m with you…. Bring on the homemade cookies.

  4. I cannot image living without modern conveniences. The people who trekked West had to have been very brave.

    1. Estella, great name… so pretty!!!! Agreed…. brave. Far-seeing. Strong.

      Of course a lot turned back… but the steady push forward…..

      A lot of courageous women in that mix.

  5. I couldn’t imagine walking across town, much less a country. I know I have become spoiled by today’s modern luxuries.

    1. Janine, I imagine what it would be like to be an oppressed woman in the big cities that had already become industrialized… the smells, the diseases that ran rampant, the crowded housing conditions.

      How that land out west must have lured!!!! And if all you can see of your life is same-old, same-old for same old boss forever… and bugs and smells and dirty water….

      That trip west on the train must have seemed like a ticket to a whole new kind of freedom….

      My pioneer series is about women who faced that… and what fun it was to take that trip with them!

  6. I love the west as well. It is a larger than life era in our history.

    1. Debra, it is! And I love the colonial period as well, but it doesn’t give me quite the same scope of the imagination as the West does….

      It’s funny, I’m outside of Rochester NY and that was the “EARLY WEST”…. because few traveled that far inland until the 1800’s…. and it’s like a hop, skip and jump comparatively. Rochester began settling in the late 1700’s but really began to grow with the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825… So that’s a 40 to 50 year difference from this being settled… to parts of the west.

      But it seems like this is so much older here because the people settled with lumber mills and board buildings… not soddies! ๐Ÿ™‚ And gracious old homes and businesses erupted on our landscape….

      Funny how natural resources and availability make such a stunning difference in how things happen.

  7. I don’t think I’d be a good candidate for traveling west in a covered wagon. I’d have been the kid complaining about “how much longer?” “This is boring!” Thank goodness for a few wonderful inventions of today. Although, being a country girl, I do love a simple living and way of life. I like being in a state that isn’t a tourist attraction and is unique all its own.

    1. I bet a lot of kids did their share of that, Susan! But maybe that long trek gave them scope for the imagination…. Laura Ingalls… Willa Cather…. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s snowing like crazy here today. Lake Effect, right off of Lake Ontario and in my yard… Slow traffic, snowplows and it’s still piling up, probably 7 or 8 inches right now???

      Here comes Suzy Snowflake!

  8. I also love westerns and they are my favorite read. I think it is about everything you said the history, work ethic, courage all of them above. I just love me some cowboys. I even love the fact that they get close to their horses. Nothing better then setting down to read a good western.

    1. Quilt Lady, I agree! I love the image of a man who sacrifices for the critters… and his family.

      That’s pure romance, right there for me. Not fancy dinners or limousines…. But kindness and that tenderness for others.

      Oh mylanta…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi Ruth, I enjoyed your post. Love reading about the history of the West. Those early settlers had such strong character and backbone. You don’t really see that type of determination often anymore. Such brave souls. I have such respect for those early Pioneers.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Hey, Carol! Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, I agree. And that respect is so well deserved.

  10. Thank you for sharing your great post. Westerns are some of the best!

    1. Melanie, hey! Good to see you! And I agree… although in the interest of full disclosure, I love my Eastern books too… and I’ve got a new MYSTERY releasing right now and I am having so much fun writing those mysteries… So I’ve got a whole list of loves!!!

  11. I think… I think… yes, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be the subject of my next blog post, Ruthy. At least your words are. I’ve always loved stories of the northern frontier here in British Columbia, perhaps because my parents ventured north and built a home in the Cariboo wilderness. But I wasn’t a big fan of historical novels until I encountered Jane Kirkpatrick’s books. There’s just something about the western pioneering spirit that fascinates me. I love that you ventured into this genre and I’m SO looking forward to reading Her Secret Daughter. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Carol!!! And I owe you for a component I’m using in the 3rd Wishing Bridge book which won’t be ready for over a year (book 2 just went to editors)…. but you gave me an idea and it was a perfect way to wrap those three stories up. I knew it the minute I saw it and I thought… “That’s it. That’s the way I bring the three stories together.”

      ๐Ÿ™‚

      We help each other! I read Jane a LONG time ago… and you know it was an accident that got me my first historical contract but I’ve loved doing them. That one was set in Manhattan 1947… and it’s still one of my favorites. It’s “Red Kettle Christmas” about a Salvation Army bellringer postwar…. and it’s in “Love Finds You in the City at Christmas”…. A great Christmas read.

      And I’d love to get used by you!!!

  12. I love historical romance. I think one of the unique things about the US and us(people in the US) is that it’s our West. Compared to settings in Europe, our country is young and we know a lot–not all–about the Old West because it happened here. Right in our own backyard.

    I still love my books set in England, Scotland, etc…

    1. Denise, that’s such a good point! That youthfulness of America kind of gave us a bird’s eye view… we don’t have to worry about this empire losing to that empire, and then bartering with another conqueror, empire, etc…

      America is an amazingly beautiful country.

  13. Sadly we are losing our connection to the land. The ability to be even a little self-sufficient is rabidly becoming a lost art. So many don’t even know where food comes from let alone how to raise it. Many would starve without fast food and a microwave. We drive everywhere and can’t imagine walking a few blocks and could hardly walk across country. Without experiencing some of what the settlers did, we can’t appreciate the strength it too to survive and florursh. The closeness to a basic life, gives one a better appreciation for what we have and what it takes to produce it.

  14. The historical West is where American morality and ethics were born in my opinion. The work ethic, commitment, loyalty, strength, respect, manners, responsibility, accountability, etc. from our ancestors has been lost or diminished greatly in our society today. There still are true cowboys, just not enough of them.

  15. I am a Kentucky gal from birth, I come from farm families and I became a farmer myself when I was 18 so I appreciate fresh vegetables, beef and pork from own animals and even milk from our dairy cows. My Daddy loved westerns and this Daddy’s girl loves them also. And I consider that my ancestors were pioneers even though they ventured no farther west than Kentucky so historical fiction is also a love of mine. But so is mystery suspense and family stories. So many genres to enjoy because I just love to read! Thanks for your thoughts and this giveaway.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

  16. The pioneering spirit lures me to the West! Being a native Texan, I grew up around horses and cattle.

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