"The difficult ... you're supposed to do right away. The impossible ... that'll take you a few days longer." Building your own town out near Tuscon, Arizona probably falls in the category of "the impossible," but Ed Keeylocko did that, a pickup truck of materials at a time. This is the story of Cowtown Keeylocko, built by an African-American with red hair and swamp green eyes, who was abandoned by his mother, a self-proclaimed minority of minorities. He served in Korea and Vietnam, and he returned to the US, where he took up ranching in Arizona. In December of 1974, he founded Cowtown Keeylocko, a western ranch that is "an odd mixture of the real and the fanciful." The ranch/town expanded by 1989 to have a mayor, citizens, its own zip code, fourty-six head of cattle, three ranch hands, 10,800 acres of land, and five buildings (Google books preview). The March/April 1996 issue of American Cowboy has a short article on Ed Keeylocko and his cowtown, and here's a more recent (but still dated) website on the mayor and trail boss of Cowtown Keeylocko, with stories from visitors and photos from a roundup.
The stories and pictures of the Wild West commonly feature white men, with little notion of the diversity present in the later half of the 19th century beyond the various regiments of "buffalo soldiers". In reality, black cowboys made up a large portion of the cowhand population, possibly a quarter of all cowboys. Estimations range from 5,000 to 15,000 cowboys being of African heritage. Many have been forgotten in the passing of time, but some of their stories live on. For instance, the cowboy Nat Love, the outlaw Cherokee Bill, and (all sorts of awesome) "Stagecoach" Mary Fields. [more inside]