Tucumcari, Wagon Mound and Beyond: Honoring Eastern New Mexico’s Ranching Heritage

Editor | - June 5, 2013

Part of the Cowboys Real and Imagined Exhibit

From a New Mexico History Museum press release...

The high plains and creek-carved canyons of eastern New Mexico have drawn cowboys for enough decades to build a mystique of their own. Join Los Compadres del Palacio, a support group of the New Mexico History Museum, in a salute to eastern New Mexico ranching on Sunday, June 23, from 1:30-4 pm.

Take a guided tour of the new exhibit, "Cowboys Real and Imagined."Step inside a 1950s-era range tent once used on the Bell Ranch, near Tucumcari. Enjoy refreshments in the lobby and head upstairs to try your hand at roping a dummy calf.

At 2 pm, Meredith Davidson, curator of the 19th- and 20th-century American Southwest, speaks in the auditorium on “Ranching History Heard,” using oral history, song and sound to document the stories of New Mexico cowpunchers and ranchers. “These are tales of the men who passed through the gates and across the pastures of New Mexico’s historic Bell Ranch,” she said. “From the songs and poems to the narrations of experiences there, you can see the depth of ranching in New Mexico. Capturing this history is an act of the present.” 

Following Davidson’s talk, cowboy singer and onetime ranch hand Steve Cormier of Sandia Park, NM, will perform in the auditorium. Seating is limited. To reserve your space, e-mail or call (505) 476-5191

“This event evolved out of us wanting to do something specifically about the Bell Ranch and then recognizing that we could expand it to the vast ranching history of eastern New Mexico,” said Willard Lewis, a Los Compadres Outreach Committee member. “We wanted to honor that tradition and its contributions to New Mexico and help visitors gain a greater appreciation for what that history has meant to the state.”

"Cowboys Real and Imagined" explores New Mexico’s cowboy legacy from its origin in the Spanish vaquero tradition through itinerant hired hands, outlaws, rodeo stars, cowboy singers, Tom Mix movies and more. Guest curated by B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West at the University of Oklahoma, the exhibit grounds cowboy history in New Mexico through rare photographs, cowboy gear, movies and original works of art. It includes a bounty of artifacts including boots and spurs, ropes, movie posters, and the chuck wagon once used by cowboys onNew Mexico’s legendary Bell Ranch. 

For more information on "Cowboys Real and Imagined," including programming events, click here

Image above: Cattle ranching, Raton, N.M., photographer and date unknown. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 72346.