the north dakota cowboy hall of fame & medora

Taking a break from Theodore National Park, I went into Medora to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.  The museum strives to preserve the history and promote the culture of North America’s Native American, ranching and rodeo communities by informing and educating people of all nations and cultures about the state’s rich and colorful Western heritage, according to its website.

I watched the film about the history of the cowboy, rodeos, horses, buffalo and wars.


North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame


North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

A rider in a rodeo begins his ride with his feet over the bronc’s shoulders, giving the horse the advantage. The point of the event is to stay on the horse for 8 seconds, until the buzzer sounds.  The rider is disqualified if he touches the animal, himself, or equipment with his free hand or if either foot slips out of the stirrup, if he drops the rein he is holding in one hand, or if he fails to have his feet in the proper position at the beginning of the ride. His score is derived from how good his riding style is: a rider who synchronizes his spurring action with the animal’s bucking will get a high score.  Judges also consider other factors: the cowboy’s control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke, and how hard the horse bucks.

Other rodeo events include bareback riding and bull riding.  Bull riding is similar to the bareback event except that the bull is bigger and wider than a horse. As in all riding events, half the score is determined by the animal. Upper body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward, or “over his hand,” at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks.

Between 1878 and 1890, the population of northern Dakota skyrocketed from about 16,000 to 191,000. The Great Dakota Boom was caused by railroad expansion, spring wheat demand, bonanza farm success, eastern America/European situations, and land availability.

Ethnic Settlement in North Dakota

A line shack or settler’s shack had small living quarters with few comforts.  The Chaps, Cowboy Drawing, Antler Mount and Hat belonged to Bill McCarty who ranched in this area in the 1940s.

Line Shack

I found “A Brief History of Barbed Wire,” which told about how the fence rail was designed to be attached to an existing fence to “prick” an animal when it came into contract with the rail and keep livestock from breaking through. Others later improved upon the original fence by attaching the spikes (barbs) directly to a piece of wire.

“A Brief History of Barbed Wire”

“A Brief History of Barbed Wire”

The Mighty Texas Longhorn mounted on the wall was one of 300 steers originating from Fort Worth, Texas, driven 1500 miles over a six-month period to Miles City, Montana in 1995.  Called the “Great American Cattle Drive” this journey sought to recreate the old west tradition.

Mighty Texas Longhorn

Tobacco pouches were carried by plains Indians.  Tobacco was a prized item used in ceremonial and religious events.  The pouches below were made of deer hide, porcupine quills dyed with natural pigments and sewn with sinew.  The pouches came from the Lakota, Chippewa, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes.

Tobacco pouches

The most prestigious form of marriage was one in a which a bride-price was paid with horses.  Women who were married in this way were said to be “purchased” and this was considered to be a very honorable form of marriage.

More horses, more wives…


Horses used to hunt buffalo were called Buffalo Chasers.  These horses were so well trained that they not only watched the buffalo to avoid collision but also kept a sharp lookout for holes and bad footing on the prairie.  A horse was trained for the chase by riding him alongside of and into herds of running horses, and by rubbing him with buffalo robes to accustom him to the smell of the animals.  Race horses also had great value in Indian society.  A winning race horse was a prized possession and great care was taken to keep these horses safe from raiding tribes and competitors.

race horses and buffalo chasers

racehorses and buffalo chasers

Before leaving, I admired the paintings at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

After venturing back into the park and visiting the Painted Canyon Nature Trail, I returned to Medora to have dinner at the Little Missouri Saloon.  I had a Polish waitress again who told me she and her friends were participating in some kind of work program. I had Fish & Chips and Pinot Grigio.

Then I strolled around the town of Medora.  Some of the pictures I took the next morning on my way out of town.















*Sunday, September 15, 2019*