The Cowboy From England By Christopher Briscoe

Along the edge of the Siskiyou mountains in Southern Oregon is the Green Springs Highway. It links Ashland and Klamath Falls with a ribbon of a road that's been meandering through tall Pines since 1846. Officially knows as Oregon Route 66, it was originally blazed by Oregon Trail pioneers and later used as a stagecoach route.

After a long climb out of Ashland, near the summit, is the Green Springs Inn. Travelers park in the dirt and enjoy a meal on a sun-soaked deck. Across the lonely highway, up a dusty drive, there's a 70 year old cowboy, Terry and his lap-dog, Maggie. Both live in a small trailer, jam-packed with a lifetime of - some might say - junk.

University degrees are not important on this section of the Green Springs Highway. Nor are bank accounts, sun tans or hedge funds. Terry is living his dream.

Terry is living his dream.

Having the opportunity to photograph a special character like Terry was an honor. More importantly, the grace and gratitude he brought to our time together was humbling.

Here is his story.

As far back as I can remember, I was fascinated with the West. The cowboy life has always appealed to me. It started when I was a little kid playing cowboys and Indians. As I got older, becoming a cowboy fascinated me even more. I came to Oregon from London, England in 1975, moving to Jacksonville. I wanted to find somewhere better for my children. I also wanted to pursue my dream - making a living as a cowboy in the United States. It took me a long time, about 20 years of working various jobs. One of them was being a meat cutter. Then I became a blacksmith. Soon I was hauling horses then breaking horses. I was living my dream.

May God's breath be the wind in your face.

My grandfather, Blackjack Kimber, went to school until he was 9 years old. He loved me. He was the best friend I’ve ever had. Grandfather was a man who showed his love for all of his grandchildren. He was an absolute patriarch and a true gentleman who never cussed or raised his voice to children. We could throw a rock through his greenhouse and he wouldn’t raise his voice. He had a wood lathe in his shop, made out of a treadle sewing machine. He would chuck a piece of wood onto the lathe, get it going and I would work it until all the wood was completely gone. Then he’d smile and we'd do it again.

He taught me how to treat people and be honest. He used to say, “An honest man can only make an honest mistake.” I’ve lived by that. He also told me, "Treat ladies as ladies, that shows you’re a true gentleman."

If I knew now that my grandfather was proud of me, it would make my life 100% complete. He once told me something I'll never forget. He took my face in his hands, looked me in the eye and said, "May God's breath be the wind in your face."

He died in 1963 and I still miss him dearly.

He didn't spank me. He beat me.

My own dad never really appreciated me for who I was. I love my dad, but he was a negative influence on my life. When I was a kid, he didn’t spank me. He beat me. Thats why I got into drugs and alcohol when I was younger. It almost destroyed me. I have lots of health issues now because of that. If I was going to be buried in a graveyard, my tombstone would say, “It’s been a hell of a party!”

Throughout my life as a cowboy, I've always been buying horses. I love horses. Always have - always will. But, the quickest way to go broke is to buy horses

"Christopher, could you take a photo of me praying? That's what I like to do."
Created By
Christopher Briscoe
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All photos by Christopher Briscoe

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