Cowboy Hall of Fame encompasses story of American Indians

MEDORA, N.D. (AP) – Darrell Dorgan lost count of the number of mounted deer heads he’s been offered for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame when that number reached 45 a few years ago.

Not that the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame doesn’t appreciate offers for donations, but there is limited space and not everything offered can go in the interpretive center in Medora.

“We get offers every day,” said Dorgan, executive director of the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame.

“We accept items now that have to have a story with them,” he added.

Officially named the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Center of Western Heritage and Cultures: Native American, Ranching, Rodeo, the center opened in 2005 and is one of North Dakota’s newest interpretive centers. It carries the themes: Native Americans, the Texas trail drivers who brought the first cattle, ranchers, homesteaders and the sport of rodeo.

Many items in the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame came from northwest North Dakota, including the Fort Berthold Reservation, Turtle Mountain Reservation, Minot, Plaza, White Shield, Watford City, Killdeer, Grassy Butte, Williston and other areas.

There are many items from other areas of the state as well and from out of state. Out-of-state items originally were from North Dakota, Dorgan pointed out.

Robert Kok of Plaza donated a saddle and mail bags to the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame this year and are displayed in the center.

Dorgan said the saddle from Plaza is a good example of an item with a story.

“That’s an example because it tells a story and how the mail was delivered. He (Kok) bought that and used it. And we’re thrilled to have it. It tells how mail was delivered in the early days,” he said.

Information at the display of the saddle says it’s a Sentinel Butte saddle owned by Fred C. Hamlin, who delivered mail in southwestern N.D. in the early 1900s. The saddle bags, with their U.S. markings, are believed to be Army issue. The information tells how the mail was delivered in earlier days. Hamlin moved to Plaza in 1906 where he and his wife, Betty, operated a drug store until the 1960s. Kok acquired the saddle for $60 in 1950, used it for years and his children used it when they learned to ride.

The Rodeo Gallery has rodeo gear of Brad Gjermundson, the four-time world champion saddle bronc rider from Marshall in Dunn County. There are items from other area rodeo champions, including Alvin Nelson, of Grassy Butte, and Duane Howard, of Minnewaukan.

Arnie Addicott, a bronze sculptor from Stanley, made two large bronze sculptures displayed outside the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame. A large buffalo sculpture located in the upper floor conference room also was made by Addicott as well as several smaller sculptures displayed in the building.

Walter Piehl’s artwork is shown in the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame. Piehl, of Minot, is a Hall of Fame board member who is well known for his Western art.

A collection of Western photos taken by the late cowboy photographer Leo Harris, of Killdeer, is displayed in the hallway in the upper level of the facility. A few of the photos in the collection are by the Osborn Studio in Dickinson. Originally, the photos were in Binek’s Cafe and Recreation in the 1920s and 1930s and then went to the Western Grill, a restaurant, in Dickinson, Dorgan said. The late Leonard Kostelnak, a Killdeer rancher, bought the collection. Later the collection was purchased by American Bank Center in Dickinson. The collection is appraised at $90,000, Dorgan said.

The Sanish Rodeo is among the 125 Hall of Fame inductees, to date, with a place in the Hall of Honorees located on the upper level of the building. The rodeo was held for a number of years west of present-day New Town. A chute from the Sanish Rodeo, given to the Hall of Fame by the Blaisdell Rodeo, is outside the building.

New exhibits in the Hall of Fame are Sitting Bull’s vest, on loan from Ross Rolshoven, a Hall of Fame board member from Grand Forks, and a fossil exhibit with the Messohippus, a 35-million-year-old horse.

Buffalo Bill Cody’s Serial No. 1 gun, given to him by Samuel Colt, which is on loan from the National Firearms Museum in Virginia, has been shown in the Hall of Fame since last year.

The Hall of Fame has become a popular spot for special events.

“We’re already booking for weddings, reunions and meetings for next summer,” Dorgan said. People who want to book events, though, should call as soon as possible, he said.

The Hall of Fame will close for the season at the end of September but people can still visit by appointment.

Incidentally, Dorgan said he accepted one offer of a deer head for the Hall of Fame. “One is plenty,” he said. Visitors can take a look around and find where it’s displayed there.


Information from: Minot Daily News,

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-09-12-10 0101EDT