While checking out the Max Brand books posted by Crutledge at the MR library, I found The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams, also posted by Crutledge. It sounds particularly interesting. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
The Log of a Cowboy is an account of a five-month drive of 3,000 cattle from Brownsville, Texas, to Montana in 1882 along the Great Western Cattle Trail. Although the book is fiction, it is firmly based on Adams's own experiences on the trail, and it is considered by many to be the best account of cowboy life in literature. Adams was disgusted by the unrealistic cowboy fiction being published in his day; The Log of a Cowboy was his response. It is still in print, and even modern reviewers consider it a compelling classic. The Chicago Herald said: "As a narrative of cowboy life, Andy Adams' book is clearly the real thing. It carries its own certificate of authentic first-hand experience on every page."
A few months ago I read "The Winning of Barbara Worth" by Harold Bell Wright, which I also picked up from the MR library. It is historical fiction, published in 1911, based upon facts concerning the development of the Imperial Valley in California, just west of Yuma, and chronicles early water issues. I found it to be a fascinating book, among the most interesting I read last year. It led to a lot of internet research into the history of the area.
Thanks again to Jgaiser for the reminder of the treasures in the MR library.