The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) and Discovery Road have produced a new documentary featuring three prominent Utah ranch families called Cowboy Way.
“These three families are all incredible stories the public needs to hear about,” said producer James Nelson about the new episode. “Each family story tells an important chapter of Utah history about surviving on the land, maintaining the ranch lifestyle and keeping the cowboy spirit alive over several generations. These cowboy stories are real and wonderful.”
The documentary first tells the intriguing story of the Wright Family ranch in the beautiful country next to Zions National Park. The Wright family ranch roots date back to the 1850s and homesteading was a much different place than today.
“I think the main attraction for these tourists is the scenery, but once they get here, they experience the serenity of the area which is unmatched anywhere I’ve been,” rancher Bill Wright said in an interview with Discovery Road.
The camping and horseback riding at the sprawling Wright Ranch offers tourists a heavenly view of the majesty of Zion National Park.
The story of how the ranch came in being and survived over the decades is compelling, but the chronicle gets better when you hear the latest chapters of the Wright chronicle. Bill and Evelyn Wright are the parents of 13 children and proud to announce that they have numerous world champion rodeo stars in the family.
In another segment of the documentary, Discovery Road tells the story of cowboy Earl Bascom, who grew up in Utah and Canada and learned about the wild west, seeing wild horse roundups, hearing stories of bank robbers and witnessing the birth of rodeo that he would later help perfect.
Bascom attended Brigham Young University where he became known as one of the best cowboy artists ever.
Speaking about his father Earl, John Bascom said, “He rodeoed every summer to pay for his tuition. His winnings paid for his tuition and his living expenses at college. In fact, a lot of the students told me they were quite envious; they thought he was rich.”
Discovery Road also gives viewers a glimpse into how cowboys end up the movies. In some instances, they were used as extras while their ranches provided horses and the big open spaces for filming. Some of the cowboys and cowgirls from Utah became western movie stars.
One of the overarching themes of Cowboy Way is seeing how each family deals with the changing landscape of the cowboy way of life. Some families adjust and adapt while others downsize and carry onward.
The southern Utah ranching descendants of the Jacob Hamblin family were also featured in the documentary.
“Yea, the past is the past and it’s never going to go back. I think the cowboy way of life is what America was built on really,” Cynthia Hamblin said. “The farming, ranching, all agriculture, now it is fading. They just don’t get where their milk and meat and bread and all of that comes from. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand the work that it takes and the effort that it takes to put those items in the grocery store.”
While talking about producing the show, Nelson said, “Cowboys and the American West! There’s just nothing quite like it anywhere in world. It’s an amazing lifestyle. This documentary has been one remarkable, dusty sonnet, we’ll never forget.”
Discovery Road is an award-winning ongoing documentary series broadcast each Saturday on the Utah Education Network (channel 9) at 6 p.m. and on several local cable television stations in Utah and surrounding states.
The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) is a federally designated area of central and southern Utah running along the beautiful and historic U.S. Highway 89.
The area includes the counties of Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Garfield and Kane.