NPR

Why The Iconic Marlboro Man Image Is Fading In The West

A lot of cowboys built up a their stock on U.S. public lands. But today the number of actual independent cattlemen working on these lands is dropping.
Many residents left Weed, N.M. starting in the 1980s when the sawmills closed. Today the few ranching families left say their livelihoods are threatened. Source: Kirk Siegler

Terry Lewis has probably ridden every trail, gully and meadow you can find in the mountains around his boyhood home of Weed, N.M.

"It's harder to get to know our country, if you don't do it on horseback," Lewis says.

Lewis, 74, is bouncing along a dirt road in a worn pickup, certainly not his preferred mode of travel in this high altitude island of tree-covered mountains that towers over the harsh southern New Mexico desert. Lewis recalls a time when he'd cover two or three times as much ground on horseback, riding to his old summer ranges here.

"People don't ride as much as they used to," Lewis says.

Today you're more likely to encounter an ATV rider

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