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Writers of the Purple Sage

The written image of the West has captured the American imagination for more than 150 years. The exhibit title is a word play on Zane Grey’s famous novel, “Riders of the Purple Sage.” Published in 1912, the novel set the pattern for the modern Western and sold over a million copies. The exhibit features more than 60 Western writers who had a part in creating the romance of the West, the public image of the cowboy and a national identity to international readers. The permanent collection of the NRHC includes a wide range of Western and ranch-related books, many of which are first edition signed manuscripts.

Before the Grid

As the s1800s came to a close, some American cities began to enjoy the scientific miracle of electric power, but not everyone benefited from ready access to reliable electricity. Rural populations found ways to provide either their own electricity or harness new portable power supplies. This exhibit examines some of the machines used to make rural life easier during this period in American history. The Hit-and-Miss Engine, for example, provided power for farm and ranch machinery. The Fresno Scrapper was an early form of earth-moving equipment, and a wind-driven generator called the Wincharger could power a radio or a small number of lights. The Victrola used a hand-wound spring to turn records and a megaphone to amplify sound, thus making it possible for those in sparsely populated areas to enjoy music in their homes.

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Texas Tech University
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