Illustration by Frederick Remington

The Spur awards, given annually for distinguished writing about the American West were established in 1953 by the Western Writers of America. At the time awards were given for the best western novel, best historical novel, best juvenile, and best short story. Today, Spurs are given for the best western novel (short novel), best novel of the west (long novel), best original paperback novel, best short story, best short nonfiction as well as other categories. The following list contains the winners for "Best Western Novel" (1954-1997) and "Best Western Novel Under 90,000 Words" (1998-2000).  See also at this site "Best Novel of the West Over 90,000 Words."


2003 Sandra Dallas The Chili Queen
2002 Elmer Kelton The Way of the Coyote
2001 Mike Blakely Summer of Pearls
2000 Richard S. Wheeler Masterson
1999 Loren D. Estleman Journey of the Dead
1998 Cynthia Haselhoff The Kiowa Verdict
1997 Will Camp Blood of Texas
1996 Robert Conley The Dark Island
1995 Tom Edison St Agnes' Stand
1994 Charles Hackenberry Friends
1993 Robert J. Conley Nickajack
1992 Richard Matheson Journal of the Gun Years
1991 Gary Svee Sanctuary
1990 Richard Wheeler Fool's Coach
1989 Judy Alter Mattie
1988 Tony Hillerman Skinwalker
1987 Ralph Robert Beer The Blind Corral
1986 Larry McMurty Lonesome Dove
1985 No Award  
1984 Frank Roderus Leaving Kansas
1983 Fred Grove Match Race
1982 Elmer Kelton Eye of the Hawk
1981 Jeanne Williams The Valient Women
1980 William Decker The Holdouts
1979 Norma Zollinger Riders to Cibola
1978 Fred Grove The Great Horse Race
1977 Lou Cameron The Spirit Horses
1976 Douglas C. Jones The Court Martial of George Armstrong Custer
1975 Stephen Overholser A Hanging in Sweetwater
1974 Elmer Kelton The Time It Never Rained
1973 Lewis B. Patten A Killing in Kiowa
1972 Elmer kelton The Day the Cowboys Quit
1971 Clifton Adams The Last Days of Wolf Garnett
1970 Clifton Adams Tragg's Choice
1969 Louis L'Amour Down the Long Hills
1968 Lee Hoffman The Valdez Horses
1967 Herbert R. Purdum My Brother John
1966 Benjamin Capps Sam Chance
1965 Benjamin Capps The Trail to Ogllala
1964 Leigh Brackett Follow the Free Wind
1963 Fred Grove Comanche Captives
1962 Giles Lutz The Honyoker
1961 Will C. Brown The Nameless Breed
1960 Nelson Nye Long Run
1959 Noel Loomis Short Cut to Red River
1958 Elmer Kelton Buffalo Wagons
1957 Leslie Ernenwein High Gun
1956 L.P. Holmes Somewhere They Die
1955 Wayne D. OverholserP The Violent Land
1954 Lee Leighton Lawman