Imagine being a kid sitting around a campfire listening to an old weathered cowboy tell you a ghost story. It happened to 12-year-old Stan Jones and he kept that vivid story tucked in his memory. Then, in 1948, he composed a song called Ghost Riders in the Sky. Within a year it became a hit, and throughout the years many artists recorded the song. But, what was the story that motivated the tune? The story was about an eerie place called Stampede Mesa in Texas. During one cattle drive, the cowboys came upon the mesa and decided to bed down for the night. A homesteader was found cutting some cattle from the back of the herd – he claimed that some of his cattle got mixed up with the herd. The trail boss told him they would settle the dispute in the morning, as a storm was approaching. That night a fierce storm came and the herd stampeded over the top of the mesa. In the morning, 700 head of cattle were dead, along with some of the cowboys. But what caused them to stampede? A cowhand thought he saw the stranger shouting at the cattle and waving a blanket, which caused the herd to spook and run. Now the “homesteader” was treated as a rustler! Justice was swift back then – they blindfolded the man, tied him to his saddle, and then gave the horse a slap. The horse and rider went off the edge of the mesa to die like the rest of the steers and cowboys. Over the years, many more cattle and cowboys lost their lives on Stampede Mesa. Some of the men that survived told of the ghost cowboys trying to stop the herd from stampeding – and many say they saw a ghost at the back of the herd, waving a blanket. The song paints a vivid picture of a lone cowboy, during a thunderstorm, seeing fierce beasts and even fiercer cowboys riding across the sky. As the song goes, “If you want to save your soul from Hell a-ridin’ on our range, then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride… tryin’ to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies. Yippie-yi-Ohhhhh… Yippie-yi-Yaaaay… Ghost Riders in the sky!”
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.