North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame - Atlas Obscura

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North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

Examine the impact of the horse on Great Plains culture through exhibits on ranching, rodeo, and the Native American way of life. 


The heritage of Western culture and cowboy life is showcased inside the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, located in Medora, North Dakota, in the foothills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The hall of fame began as a conversation in 1995 between saddle bronco rider Phil Baird and early western rodeo performer and store owner Evelyn Neuens to create a home to remember North Dakota rodeo. As the concept grew, it became clear that North Dakota’s cowboy culture encompassed more than just rodeo–it should be about all aspects of the horse. 

For more than a decade, the team collected stories and memorabilia, launching the hall of fame while waiting for a permanent location. Medora offered the former site of the Museum of the Badlands, and finally, in May 2005, the barbed-wire ribbon was cut and the facility was opened.

Today, the museum tells the story of the horse in three ways. First, and most important, it includes the relationship of the Plains Native American tribes to the horse. The Lakota people and other plains natives embraced the horse upon contact, and shaped cowboy culture and the story of the West through their innovation.

Then, the museum focuses on ranching and homesteading, and the people who drove cattle across North Dakota and throughout the country. Finally, the rodeo exhibit fulfills the dream of the museum’s founders–to have a place to acknowledge North Dakota’s contributions to the cowboy way of life.

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