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The Best in the West

Febbraio 2009
Negli Stati Uniti c’è il vecchio west ricostruito per i turisti e poi c’è Sheridan, nel Wyoming, dove la vita procede ancora come ai tempi dei pionieri. Siamo andati a scoprire chi sono i veri cow-boy del XXI secolo.

di Martin Simmonds

File audio:

The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming
The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming
Della Herbst
Della Herbst

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

It is said that when you meet a cowboy, the first things he looks at are your hat and your shoes. But while many of us might have played at dressing up in a Stetson hat and cowboy boots when we were children, in the town of Sheridan, Wyoming, the cowboy life is still lived for real. Here, people don’t put on a western outfit: they work it and live it every day. So much so that in 2006 Sheridan was voted No. 1 Western Town in the USA.

brokeback mountain

Walking down Main Street, it’s not hard to see why. The downtown area has more than 30 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including Kings Museum, a treasure trove of unique saddles and Wild West memorabilia, and the Mint Bar, a legendary old cowboy hangout which supposedly inspired Annie Proulx’s famous story, Brokeback Mountain.
Nor is this the town’s only literary connection. Ernest Hemingway stayed at the town’s Sheridan Inn when he was writing A Farewell to Arms, which was first published in 1929.

BUFFALO BILL

Prior to that, the Sheridan Inn had been a favorite hangout of the famous soldier, hunter and showman, Buffalo Bill Cody. Indeed he had played a key role in building the Inn, which opened for business in 1893. That was a year after the arrival of the railroad which, along with coal, cattle and farming, was the foundation of the local economy. The Sheridan Inn stood across from the railroad tracks and quickly became the icon of the town. Buffalo Bill ran his business interests from here for a while.
Around the turn of the century Buffalo Bill was arguably the most recognizable celebrity on earth, mainly due to his Wild West Shows which had toured America and Europe. From the veranda of the Sheridan Inn, sipping his favourite cocktail, he would watch horses bucking and cows being branded.  
Della Herbst, a former mayor of Sheridan and now a member of the Sheridan Heritage Center, explains: 

Della Herbst (Standard American accent):

During the early years of his Wild West Show, he needed to have the cowboys and the Indians and all those people to partake in his Wild West Show. So, consequently, he would hold the auditions on the front porch. His favorite drink was the mint julep and so he would get all these people and the cowboys from the area would come into town and perform on the front lawn for him, and he would make his selection as to who or not was going to be in his Wild West Shows.

RESTORATION

In the 1960s the Inn faced bankruptcy and demolition, but Sheridan Heritage Center has since raised the money to save it and restoration work is under way. The Inn should re-open as a green hotel later this year. Indeed it would appear  that the American West is alive and well in Sheridan:

Della Herbst:

Traditional western, to me, means, you know, just a bunch of great hometown folks who love their community and are independent and just love the western theme, they love their rural community, they love their cowboys and working with their cattle and those kinds of things. And they’re also progressive at the same time, so to me, that’s traditional western, where you can just go there and feel like you’re at home.

For more information, visit the Sheridan Travel and Tourism website: www.sheridanwyoming.org


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Glossary

while many of us... dressing up - mente a molti noi sarà capitato di giocare a vestirsi da cowboy.

is still lived for real - è ancora vissuta per davvero.

outfit - abbigliamento.

a treasure trove of unique saddles - una preziosa collezione di selle uniche.

hangout - ritrovo.

coal, cattle and farming - carbone, bestiame e allevamento.

stood across from the railroad tracks - si trovava di fronte ai binari della ferrovia.

arguably - molto probabilmente.

sipping - sorseggiando.

bucking - sgroppare.

branded - marchiate.

former mayor - ex sindaca.

to partake - partecipare.

he would hold the auditions - teneva le audizioni.

lawn - prato.

under way - in corso.

just a bunch of great hometown folks - semplicemente della brava gente alla buona.