Wild in the morning

Today’s morning name: Cimarron (from the American Spanish ‘wild, untamed’). A name that’s all over a swath of the U.S., in AR, AZ, CA, CO, KS, NM, OK, and TX, in the names of cities and towns and geographical features like rivers and mountains. The names were originally used for “wild” places and geographical features and for European-unsettled areas, in particular the Cimarron Territory, which gave its name to a 1929 novel by Edna Ferber and a celebrated 1931 movie.


From Wikipedia:

Cimarron is a novel by Edna Ferber, published in 1929 and based on development in Oklahoma after the Land Rush. The book was adapted into a critically acclaimed film of the same name in 1931 through RKO Pictures. In 1960, the story was again adapted for the screen by MGM, to meager success.

Cimarron derives its name from the Cimarron Territory. The Cimarron Territory was an unrecognized name for the No Man’s Land, an unsettled area of the West and Midwest, especially lands once inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Cherokee and Sioux. In 1886 the government declared such lands open to settlement. Oklahoma at the time of the novel’s opening is one such “Cimarron Territory” though, in actuality, the historical setting of the novel is somewhere in the Cherokee Outlet, also known as the Cherokee Strip and probably the city of Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Before Cimarron, So Big (1924) and Show Boat (1928); after it, Giant (1952).

Then the movie (seriously 0verheated posters from the U.S. and Sweden):



Cimarron is a 1931 Pre-Code Western film directed by Wesley Ruggles, starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne, and featuring Estelle Taylor and Roscoe Ates. The Oscar-winning script was written by Howard Estabrook based on the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron. It would be RKO’s most expensive production up to that date, and its winning of the top Oscar for Best Production would be only one of two ever won by that studio. It is also one of the few Westerns to ever win the top honor at the Academy Awards. Epic in scope, spanning forty years from 1889 to 1929, it was a critical success, although it did not recoup its production costs during its initial run in 1931. The 1960 version Cimarron reduced the role of stereotyped black characters and has Native American actors playing the “Indians,” including Eddie and Dawn Little Sky. (Wikipedia link)

And the 1960 movie (with Glenn Ford as noble hero):


We still have all those names, though the geographical features and places are no longer in what could be thought of as wild or unsettled areas. For example, there’s the Cimarron (aka Arkansas) River, which I’ve been over many times on interstate highways:

The Cimarron River extends 698 miles (1,123 km) across New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas. The headwaters flow from Johnson Mesa west of Folsom in northeastern New Mexico. Much of the river’s length lies in Oklahoma, where it either borders or passes through eleven counties.

The river’s present name comes from the early Spanish name, Río de los Carneros Cimarrón, which is usually translated as River of the Wild Sheep. (Wikipedia link)



One Response to “Wild in the morning”

  1. Joseph F Foster Says:

    Cimarron, Roll On is also a right good Western song that came out in the 1940s and was popular through the 50s and still remained so in the 50s, at least in the areas where the Western hadn’t yet been, er, separated out of “Country and Western”. Stations like KFSA in Ft. Smith (Arkansas) and KWKH in Shreveport, La, played it a lot.

    Probably the most famous and popular recording of it was by the Sons of the Pioneers, but I think it was written by Johnny Bond and the 40’s recording of it with The Red River Boys was the one I grew up on.

    The song was also the pivot for a memory I have of an early encounter with dialectal variation. In Arkansas we pronounced the proposition on rhyming with “own”, i.e. [ o: n]. But my Tulsa Lloyd cousins pronounced it [an], so they got a rhyme in Cimarron, Roll On! Their father and my Tulsa Foster cousin pronounced “on” the same way we did in the Arkansas.

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