Tuesday, January 30, 2024


The history of retiring old boots on fence posts runs deep in American western culture. Why it got started, let's find out. 

These boots line the driveway into the Durham Ranch, north of Wright. The little research I did about the meaning of such a strange cowboy practice unearthed many different speculations. 

One source said that a rancher would do this to communicate to his neighbors whether he was home or not. A toe pointing out the gate meant he was gone, while a toe pointing to the house meant he was home. Could be. 

Another article suggested that they would do this to keep the tops of fence posts from rotting out as quick. Maybe. 

John likes to say that they are mementos of all the cowboys who have come and gone on this place. Sounds plausible. 

The thought I like the most was that the upside down boot was a form of prayer that the 'sole' of the cowboy would go to Heaven. Now that's Catholic!

However, I know exactly why ranchers retire their old boots on fence posts, for the fun of it! Cowboys are light hearted. If they think something is funny that their neighbor might get a kick out of, or that might roll the eyes of their wife, they're all for it. And why not, what else you gonna do with a worn out pair of boots? Throw them away!? The tradition lives on, and so it should. Next time you have to buy a new pair of boots, consider adorning the drive with your old pair. Passerbyers will appreciate it. 

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