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And the West is History: Red Ryder and Little Beaver at Race Meet – 1949

The 1949 Spanish Trails Fiesta featured comic strip characters Red Ryder and Little Beaver. They led the downtown parade and appeared at the rodeo. Here, they are pictured presenting the winner’s blanket to the featured race’s victorious jockey Ike Danley and his horse “Ernie Pyle.” Fred Harman, the strip’s writer and artist, portrays the comic strip hero, Red Ryder. The youth depicting his sidekick, Little Beaver, is presumed to be Pagosa Springs native Sammy Trujillo, based on contemporary news articles. Harman’s strip ran from 1938 to 1964 and at one time was carried in 750 newspapers nationwide. He chose to end the daily grind of producing the comic in the early 1960s to focus on his oil painting and sculpting, becoming one of the preeminent Western artists of the day. Over time, Harman employed many youths to play the Little Beaver character, particularly Jicarilla Apaches from Dulce. The Vicenti family was known for having many family members assume the role through the years. Harman died in 1982, a month shy of his 80th birthday. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org (Catalog Number: 03.35.1 from the La Plata County Historical Society Photo Collections)

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