Lander museum shows city's role in Westerns

Jun 23, 2017 From staff reports

The Pioneer Museum in Lander continues to showcase rarely seen artifacts in newly created temporary exhibits.

The first new exhibit is "Pulp," an exhibit that features a collection of 1940-50s era western paperback novels.The new display at the Pioneer Museum explores the colorful, often lurid, "Pulp" paperback western book that was popular from the 1930 to the '60s.

The books were known for their colorful cover art which featured gunfighters, violence, and often scantily dressed women to catch the eye of the book buying public.The books were called "pulps" because a low quality "pulpy" paper material was used to print them to keep costs low.

At the time the books were considered "low brow" and cheap mass culture, "adequate, but not well written," but they launched the careers of many writers who went on to become well respected authors.Max Brand, Zane Grey, A.B. Guthire and Louis L'Amour all started writing western paperbacks (sometimes under an assumed name) and all came to be respected authors in their own right.

Many of the artists who did the cover art also went on to respected western art careers. According to museum curator Randy Wise, many of the books didn't survive.

"They were produced cheaply on poor quality paper, with the idea they were disposable," Wise said. "Today many are collectors' items since they are so rare."

One book on display is called "Showdown, Long Lope to Lander!" by Allan Vaughan Elston. It is set in and around Lander. The story is about a gunfighter taking on a corrupt rancher. "The author clearly did some research," Wise said. "He has famous historic Lander names and locations and is pretty accurate in his description of Lander in the late 1800s."

The second new exhibit is a group of historically accurate scale models by Lander Craftsman Jack Mease.Mease creates scale model miniatures of wagons, farm equipment, weapons and tools at his shop outside of town.

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