In 1903, Edwin S. Porter, directed the first film western, The Great Train Robbery. Porter, who had trained at the Edison Studios, filmed his Western in New York City and New Jersey on a paltry budget of just $150.
The Great Train Robbery was lauded by critics as "The finest moving picture ever made" and was one of the most popular films produced during the silent screen era.
Porter's movie began what has become a distinctly American tradition of films exploring the legends of the Western frontier.
Tales as Unique as the American Experience
The uniqueness of the settlement of the American West was the perfect backdrop for tales which pitted man against nature. Pioneers crossing gruelingly hot deserts, cattle barons and farmers in conflict over land and water, and the greed, hunger and courage of men and women who braved the unknown to fulfill their dreams in a wild, tough and uncharted land.
Today, we can look back on countless Western films and television shows and remember the unforgettable characters who have thrilled audiences for more than a century.
Heroes of Hollywood
On-screen cowboys portrayed by gifted actors like Tom Mix, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Audie Murphy, Charles Bronson, Sam Elliott, Lee Van Cleef, Ward Bond, Sam Shepherd, Ernest Borgnine, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and so many more.
The Grace Dee May Museum celebrates these on-screen cowboys of the West through the works of fine arts and vintage collectibles in our galleries and in special exhibits.