Newspaper History presents media sourced from a United States newspaper dating back 108 years.

  • Sunset On the Prairies

    From theGrand Forks Daily Herald, June 1, 1914. By J. W. Foley

    They have tamed it with their harrows; they have broken it with plows.
    Where the bison used to range it someone’s built himself a house;
    They have stuck it full of fence posts, they have girded it with wire,
    They have shamed it and profaned it with the automobile tire;
    They have bridged its gullied rivers; they have peopled it with men;
    They have churched it, they have schooled it, they have steepled it — Amen.

    They have smothered all its campfires, where the beaten plainsmen slept,
    They have driven up their cattle where the skulking coyote crept;
    They have made themselves a pasture where the timid deer would browse;
    Where the antelope were feeding they have dotted o’er with cows;
    There’s the yokel’s tuneless whistling down the bison’s winding trail.
    Where the redman’s arrow fluttered, there’s a woman with a pail
    Driving up the cows for milking. They have cut its wild extent
    Into forty acre patches till its glory all is spent.

    I remember in the sixties, when as far as I could see
    It had neither lord nor ruler but the buffalo and me;
    Ere the blight of man was on it, and the endless acres lay
    Just as God Almighty left them on the restful seventh day;
    When no sound rose from its vastness but a murmured hum and din
    Like the echo void of silence in an unheard prairie hymn.
    And I lay at night and rested in my bed of blankets curled
    Much alone as if I was the only man in all the world.

    But the prairie’s passed or passing with the passing of the years
    Till there is no west worth knowing and there are no pioneers;
    They have riddled it with railroads, throbbing on and on and on,
    They have ridded it of dangers till the zest of it is gone.
    And I’ve saddled up my pony, for I’m dull and lonesome here,
    To go westward, westward, westward, till we find a new frontier;
    To get back to God’s own wildness and the skies we used to know;
    But there is no West; it’s conquered—and I don’t know where to go.