Deer Trail Colorado Historical Events Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Deer Trail, Colorado Historical Events and Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate

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Deer Trail, Colorado Historical Events



1869, July 4

"We don't have to depend on the hazy memories of old timers to find outwhat the earliest rodeos were like, because there were rodeo reporters backin those days too. A few yellowed pages describing the excitement stillexist, going back as far as July 4, 1869. The account of this first rodeo,then called a bronco busting contest, was published in a sportsman magazine(Field and Farm, July 8, 1889) some twenty years later. Of course the anonymous writer who recorded that contest didn't call it a rodeo. To him it was a riding competition between the cowboys of the Mill Iron, Camp Stool, and Hashknife outfits, who had met during their drives at Deer Trail, Colorado, and had decided among themselves to have a test of skill and strength. There was prize money to be won, though the reporter does not say how much. The rules he quotes specified that the horses should be ridden "with aslick saddle, free of the roll usually tied across the back." Stirrups were not to be tied under the horse's belly, and spurs were forbidden. The story describes a young cowpuncher named Will Goff, who claimed he could ride anything with hair on it. When a gentle-looking bay was led out, Will proclaimed that he was rarin' to go. "He pulled off his coat, threw his suspenders aside, took a reef in his belt and with one bound landed on the bay's back. Swish and his felt hat whistled through the air and caught the bronco (Spanish for course, rough, wild) across the side of the head. The pony pitched violently for fifty yards, making about 30 revolutions a minute." When the bay quit spinning he started to run, Goff brought him back shouting, "Give me my spurs and I'll make him pitch." They gave him his spurs, and Will raked and rode the bucker until he was exhausted. That was quite a ride, but it wasn't the winning one. The champion of the day was, surprisingly, an Englishman with the fancy name of Emilnie Gardenshire, regular cowhand for the Mill Iron ranch. He drew a wild Hashknife bronco named Montana Blizzard. The horses used in the bucking contest were what the cowboys called 'outlaws.' These outlaws were horses that were very difficult or impossible to break or ride. Our reporter describes this match between, man and beast with gusto. "Gardenshire, rawhide whip in hand, crawled aboard cautiously, and once firm in his seat began to larrup the horse unmercifully. A sight followed which tickled the spectators hugely. The Englishman rode hands free, plying the whip constantly. "There was a frightful mix-up of cowboy and horse, but Gardenshire refused to be unseated. For fifteen minutes the bronco bucked, pawed and jumped from side to side. Then amid the cheers, the mighty Blizzard succumbed, and Gardenshire rode him around the circle at a gentle lope."
Another cowboy, Drury Grogan, drew a sorrel pony which carried the Camp Stool brand. As soon as the horse was saddled and Drury was on his back, it pitched, plunged, kicked and see sawed, but did not unseat the cowboy, who made a successful ride and was awarded with the applause and cheers of the crowd. Gardenshire won a suit of clothes donated by a Denver dry goods firm, and the title "Champion Bronco Buster of the Plains." The reporter does not name the dry goods company. This first organized rodeo was held in Deer Trail at this Independence Day celebration in 1869.Taken from Birth of a Rodeo. The website for this information also has other historical links and pictures


This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Deer Trail and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.


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