The legend of Pecos Bill. He was from– I think he was from… Kansas or Missouri or something? Somewhere in the midwest, middle of the country and he was famous for riding broncos. He could ride any bronco you gave him. He would just never fall off, incredible… So he was like, “Bring me your wildest creature and I can ride it.” He could ride lions and tigers… and any bucking bronco, camels, anything crazy… he could ride anything. He was just a huge cowboy, bronco rider. And then somebody, then um, that area, Kansas and Arkansas and all that area– maybe that’s why I know this story– is, you know, famous for tornados, and cyclones, same thing. And sure enough a cyclone came along, and it was gettin’ ready to wreck a town, and the townspeople said, “Hey Pecos Bill, can you ride that cyclone outta town? Can you tame it and ride it out of town?” And he said, “Well, I’ll give it a try, I’ve ridden everything else.” And, um, so he hops on the cyclone, on the tornado, and it crashed him around and spun him around everywhere and everywhere… and he kept on it for miles and miles and days, ya know, a whole day of ridin’ it. Um, and it was just nuts for him, going all around in circles. But he stayed on it, and, ya know, he had the tail and he’d whip the tail, ya know, how a cyclone is kinda triangular, like a cone. And he’d whip the tail of it, tryna tame it and everything and he rode it all the way to…. Arizona. Up in the sky, ride it all the way to Arizona, and it, um, finally just fell out in water. All came down in water, and they say it rained really hard and, uh, it rained so hard it formed the Grand Canyon. Rained so hard it drove it all the way down. And then he fell off so hard that, um, he made… what is it? Death Valley I think? Or something like that. I can’t remember, but that’s supposedly how those things were formed. Death Valley. Which is the lowest part, you know, the lowest sea level, lowest part of the country I think.
This story was told to me by my Aunt Susan. It’s a classic folktale employing a legendary, mythic figure with supernatural abilities. I like how the story ended with the explanation of how the Grand Canyon and Death Valley were formed. It’s cool when stories seem to be relatively narrow and focused and then, at the end, open up to cover some part of general, well known history..