For nearly a quarter of a century, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame has been celebrating legends of the Lone Star State.
Written by Constance Dunn
Located in downtown Fort Worth at the Stockyards National Historic District—the center of the livestock trade during its late-19th century heyday—the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame houses dozens of exhibits honoring its nearly 150 inductees and showcasing the state’s distinctive Western and cowboy heritage. Hall of Fame inductees span the worlds of ranching and rodeo, business and entertainment, from world champion rodeo cowboy Ty Murray and famed barrel racer Charmayne James, to Texan stars of stage and screen, like Tommy Lee Jones, Willie Nelson and George Strait.
Among its new 2021 inductees is the late Keith Maddox, rodeo competitor and Western hat honcho, along with Texas native Taylor Sheridan, a rancher and award-wining horse reiner who’s conquered Hollywood as an actor, screenwriter and director. Sheridan’s credits include penning the 2016 neo-Western film Hell or High Water starring Jeff Bridges, and the hit cowboy TV series Yellowstone, which he co-created.
What ultimately links each Hall of Fame member to the next is that each embodies the cowboy lifestyle—faithfully and visibly—and all it entails. “The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is a story of courage, grit and perseverance,” explains its director Andrea Ruby. “A story of blazing new trails and overcoming obstacles to make big dreams come true. A story of American Western heritage and tradition that has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. It is the story of the Texas cowboy.”
Visitors to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame can peruse its trove of photos and personal memorabilia—ranging from costumes and gold rodeo buckles, to video footage, trophies and saddles—found in each inductee’s booth. Not to miss is the Old West photo parlor and the John Justin Trail of Fame, an homage to the well-established Western boot maker whose family business started on the Chisholm Trail in the 1800s. The Hall of Fame is also home to the Sterquell Wagon Collection, a colorful collection of carriages and other antique vehicles—including a showy hearse decked in gold leaf paint, and a rustic chuck wagon—that displays the range and ingenuity of horse-drawn transportation.
With plans for a re-designed floorplan and revamped exhibits in the works, look for the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, which opened in 1997, to continue its journey onward. Currently its address is just steps from the showcase of another icon of Western heritage. At more than 10,000 square feet John Wayne: An American Experience is a Texas-sized immersion into The Duke’s early life, star-studded career and love of America.
Photographs courtesy of The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame