Cowboys are still famous in the US

This is what cowboys looked like almost 100 years ago

Once a year - on July 22nd - various US states from Texas to Idaho celebrate National Cowboy Day in honor of one of the most symbolic figures in North America.

A total of twelve states have officially dedicated the day to cowboy culture, celebrating it with country music, games from the days of the Frontier movement, and food from kitchen carts.

The images in our gallery show some of the earliest color photographs of cowboys in the United States. Many were taken using the autochrome process - the first method of color photography. In this so-called contrasting process, very thin layers of colored potato starch were applied to a glass plate.

The cowboys look exactly as you would imagine - dressed in chaps, cowboy hats and leather boots.

As a symbol of the Wild West, the figure of the cowboy is deeply anchored in the cultural consciousness of most people. However, it does not have its origin in the settlers from the Old World.

When the Spaniards landed in what is now Mexico, they founded cattle ranches. By the early 18th century, they had spread to what is now Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. To manage these ranches, the Spanish employed Native Americans as vaqueros (the Spanish word for cowboy).

After the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, settlers poured into the southwest from the eastern United States. The former Mexican areas there were now part of the United States. With that, ranch culture was no longer an exclusively Hispanic phenomenon. Cattle drives with thousands of cattle running from southwest to northwest ensured that the lasso-throwing, boot-wearing culture very soon spread to the other states.

These days there may not be many vaqueros who still drive large herds - but the cowboy is still an American icon.