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John B. Stetson, Boss of the Plains

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
<p>Rick Bishop&#039;s business is called Western Tradition. He cleans and reshapes cowboy hats for a living. Sells some, too. He&#039;s been at it for more than three decades. But he doesn&#039;t have a store anywhere. Throughout the year he hops from one stock show to the next. Photographed Tuesday Jan. 15, 2019 at the National Western Stock Show. You can find him there through Sunday, Jan. 27.</p>
John B. Stetson, Boss of the Plains

John B Stetson traveled to Colorado as a young man, to see the Rockies while he still could. He had tuberculosis. His time was short, he thought, and so he made the trek west across the plains. Camping in the cold east of Colorado Springs one night, Stetson – son of a Philadelphia hatter – fashioned a strange new hat to better protect himself from the weather: he used rabbit fur felt, gave it a high crown and wide brim all around to keep out sun, rain, wind and hail. A horseman paid him $5 for that hat.

Later – cured of TB and back in Philadelphia – Stetson built an empire with his creation. It could fan the flames of a campfire, or carry water to a horse, and keep out the sun and rain. By the time he died at the age of 76, his factory in Philadelphia was turning out hundreds of thousands. He named that hat "The Boss of the Plains," but most folks just call it "a Stetson."

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.