TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Before miracle materials,
rawhide ruled

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

Our modern world is blessed with materials like plastic, fiberglass, nylon, cotton, silk and rubber. Think for a moment how different our world would be without these miracle materials.

Not so long ago, the material for all purposes was rawhide. Rawhide is the dried hide of a bovine that died. Every carcass, if caught in time, was skinned and hung over the top pole of a corral fence to dry. After awhile, it became stiff as a board, hard as iron, yet with a little know-how and patience could be made into almost any article needed.

If you broke or lost your horse hobbles, you sliced off a piece of rawhide, soaked it overnight in water, then crafted another set of hobbles to use.

Suppose it was screwworm time or the boss said to go check the barbed wire fences. You simply cut the size rawhide needed, trimmed off a long thong for lacing, punched a few holes and you soon had a cheap, durable pouch for medicine or fence steeples and pliers.

Say your saddle and gear suffered from the last horse wreck during an encounter with a "bull-on-the-peck." A few rawhide thongs and patches would suffice until your next trip to the saddle shop.

Rawhide thongs were strings of rawhide of various widths and lengths used for every purpose, including decorations. Since the dried hides contained different thicknesses, if you wanted a thin thong, you cut it out of the flank of the hide. A heavy thong was cut from the shoulders or brisket areas.

Long thongs were different. They had to be cut from a circle of hide. The old riatas used by the Spanish vaqueros were made of thongs that required a large, complete hide for each thong used.

Experience, patience and time were required to cut these long thongs. First, you chose a big, good-quality hide. You removed the hair by one of several methods, soaked the hide overnight and cut the main area into the largest circle possible.

When all was ready, you chose a day when you were not working and located a large, slick log or corral pole on which to work.

Using a Barlow pocketknife - a three-blade model was best - you used the little blade, as it was thinner, and you sharpened it to a razor edge. Then you pushed the little blade into the log until it was stable, then slowly pulled the circle of rawhide through the blade, keeping the width of the thong as even as possible. Round and round you went, usually an all-day job. You maybe had to moisten the hide if it got too dry.

After a long time, a 60- to 80-foot-long leather thong could be produced for whatever purpose needed. Today, we merely purchase spools of miracle material thongs already cut to perfection.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" January 26, 2010 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

Related Topics:
Ranching
Columns
TE Online Magazine
Texas History
Texas Day Trips:
Texas Panhandle
Texas Town List
Texas
 
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: January 26, 2010