Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Although the cowboy lifestyle began as one of ranch labor, it quickly grew into sport as cowboys found ways to use ranch skills to compete with each other. Today, rodeo is one of the biggest sports in the West, and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy honors some of its best practitioners.
“The museum opened in 1997 as an educational and entertainment museum to preserve the legacy of the cowboy contestants and the heritage and culture of rodeo,” said Sara Tadken, marketing coordinator for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. “Currently, we have about 221 inductees, including 26 animals and 17 rodeo comedians. Each inductee in those areas has their own display of things that they’ve donated from their rodeo experience.”
The museum is affiliated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), so all of the inductees have taken part in PRCA-sanctioned events. Displays honor each inductee with a plaque and a picture; on exhibit also are the belt buckles, saddles, boots and hats the inductees used during their rodeo careers.
The museum also traces the development of competitive rodeo through time with exhibits of historic rodeo costumes and videos that demonstrate the different rodeo events.
“We display the history of cowboy clothing,” Tadken said. “We talk about how things like saddles have changed over the years. We also have a 15-minute video that goes over the history of the PRCA and educates you on the different rodeo sports.”
Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center
Pierre, South Dakota
One of the newest cowboy attractions in the country is the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, a museum opened three years ago to honor some of South Dakota’s most famous cowboys and cowgirls.
“It’s a museum that highlights Casey Tibbs, who was a nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy,” said executive director Cindy Bahe. “It also features Mattie Goff Newcombe, a famous trick rider from the 1920s who toured all over the world performing.”
A visit to the museum starts at the gallery entrance, where two large bronze sculptures depict Tibbs and Newcomb atop rodeo animals, waiting to perform. The museum is currently working on a third bronze sculpture of another South Dakota cowboy that was inducted into the state rodeo hall of fame this summer.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors see a large collection of Tibbs and Newcombe artifacts. Displays show photos of the homestead where Tibbs grew up, as well as images from many Hollywood films in which he appeared. The exhibit dedicated to Newcombe includes her horse trailer, as well as clothes and shoes she used in her trick riding shows.
Upstairs, more galleries give an overview of other rodeo programs that have become popular in South Dakota.
“We highlight the 4-H, the Little Britches and the Rodeo Queens,” Bahe said. “We have a lot of their little dresses and boots. We also highlight college rodeo programs and Native Americans that participate in rodeos.”