Big Horn Basin


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Charles J. Belden continued from previous page, Belden becomes the "Cowboy Photographer."

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About This Site

1921 New York Evening Post "Saturday Graphic" Winter Amateur Photograph Contest Honorable Mention,
"A Wintry Day in Sage Brush Country"
Photo by Charles J. Belden.

By 1921, Belden was acting as private secretary for his father-in-law on the Z Bar T. At the same time he began the process of promoting his photographs. In 1921, Belden entered the above photo entitled, "Wintry Day in the Sagebrush Country" in an amateur photograph contest sponsored by the New York Post. He won an "honorable mention." He missed out on the the first, second and third prizes of $15.00, $10.00, and $5.00 respectively and received only the satisfaction of having his photo appear in the Graphic Section of the March 4, 1922 edition of the Post. He provided other other photos for the February 1922 issue of the Wyoming Stockman Farmer. These included a photo of his father-in-law's house which took up the entire front page and a photo of a hay wagon on an inside page. Belden was not given credit for the photos. Indeed, in the Stockman-Farmer the chief aspect of the caption for the photo was Phelps' prize bull, "Maples Lad 46th," son of the great "Bonnie Brae 8th." The lack of credit or even mention of Belden, however, was rectified in the Meeteetse News, Feb. 16, 1922. The News in a front page story saw that credit for the photos in the Stockman-Farmer was duly given to Belden. The story in the News was repeated the following week.

Louis G. Phelps' House, Photo by C. J. Belden, 1922.

The Meeteetse News in its story, referred to Phelps' house as a "palatial cottage" In 1930, Belden donated several photographs for use in a promotional brouchure for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

In 1931, Belden again entered the Post contest which was strickly limited to amateurs. The theme was "pets." He entered a photo entitled "Orphans of the Plains" depicting two children bottle feeding baby antelopes, as later discussed a theme that would be repeated.

"Orphans of the Plains" Photo by C. J. Belden, approx. 1931, $25.00 first prize winner, New York Post photo contest.

In 1934 Belden won $25.00 in a Popular Science photo contest. Over the next six years, Belden published photographs and postcards of everyday life on the Pitchfork.

"In the Stocks." Photo by C. J. Belden, approx. 1926

The photographs taken between 1921 and 1940 resulted in Belden and the Pitchfork achieving lasting fame. His photos from the Pitchfork have ranked him as one of the great western photographers along with William Henry Jackson and C. D. Kirkland.

. . .

Left, Cover of Grazing Bulletin, United States Department of the Interior, December 1937

Belden photographs were featured in many national publications including National Geographic, Life Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post As indicated by the cover of the Grazing Bulletin, some were on the covers including the photo on the top of the next page which appeared on the cover of Life Magazine. The right hand photo above is indicative of Belden's interest in aviation, a theme, as discussed on subsequent pages, also used repeatedly.

"Cattle on the Pitchfork" Photo by C. J. Belden, undated.

Next page: Charles J. Belden photos continued.