Thursday, July 9, 2020

The World's First Rodeo

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I took you back to the formation of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado, yet another amazing geological formation. If you missed that post, you can read it here:

This month, let's look at an event that also attracted a lot of people, but instead of geological formations, the attraction is more of a performance and animal nature.


One of many proud signs near town
The year was 1869. The day was July 4th. Just 2 months after the historic joining of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads, creating the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. For Deer Trail, Colorado, when the rest of the country was celebrating Independence Day, this little town was holding the world's first rodeo. Although Santa Fe, N.M., Pecos, TX and Prescott, AZ also claim to have held the first rodeo, Deer Trail has it on record and documented as being the first.

Kansas Pacific Railway train
Deer Trail was founded when the Kansas Pacific Railway built a station there in 1870. It soon became a shipping point for grain, livestock, and eggs, but the rodeo has been the town's claim to fame for 150 years. Despite several severe snowstorms and a flood, the town incorporated in 1920 and reached a thriving level during that decade. Unfortunately, the Great Depression caused a significant decline, and from that point forward, the annual rodeo is what has kept the town alive.

Bronco Bustin' at the Rodeo
The historical significance and the account of the event was written about by a reporter in the “Field and Farm” magazine. Local ranch hands looking for a way to settle bets on who was the best at various cowboy fundamentals is how the idea of the rodeo got started. Folks from all the area ranches came with their most notorious broncs and best cowboys to the “Bronco Bustin’ Contest”. The prize was a suit of clothes, which was awarded to the Champion Bronc Buster of the Plains, Emiline Gardenshire of the Milliron Ranch. Emiline rode fifteen minutes on the back of Montana Blizzard, a horse known for being the worst outlaw of the bunch.

Deer Trail's claim to fame
Deer Trail, Colorado, about 45 miles east of Denver along East Colfax Avenue, has been recognized as the Home of the World’s First Rodeo by the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado State Legislature, the History Channel, Guinness Book of World Records and many other publications. So, if you're looking for a rodeo to attend, come to Colorado and visit Deer Trail in July.


* Have you ever attended a live rodeo? If so, when and where?

* If you were to participate in a rodeo, what event would you like to do?

* What topics would you like to see covered in future posts?

Answer any or all of the following, or leave any comment or question you'd like below. Come back on the 9th of August for my next appearance.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an award-winning and best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help better their lives.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and two dogs in Colorado. She has sold twenty (23) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Our Vermont State Fair used to have rodeos as part of their entertainment lineup. It was always a lot of fun to watch! I don't know if they are allowed to have it any more, what with animal rights activists trying to shut down live animal events. My favorite memory was a year when my grandmother went as well with another relative. A bull jumped over the fencing somehow and got into the lower bleacher section. My grandmother being a farm woman, she swung her big ol' pocketbook at the beast!!! I can't remember how it resolved, only that it was quick and I don't think anyone got hurt.

    1. Oh my goodness. What a hoot! I can only imagine how that might have looked to see a bull stir up all kinds of trouble in the lower bleachers. Talk about a fantastic vignette for a story!! :)

      As for all those animal rights activists? Maybe all these animals they're defending should come live with them! Maybe they should be required to take care of them. They would likely change their tune. If they aren't allowed to be involved in rodeos, state fairs, etc., where all are they going to go?

  2. I love reading about rodeos. I've been to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a number of times. My husband eats his evening snack watching Calgary Stampede on DVR and records the Mesquite Rodeos as well. If I were to participate, I'd be a barrel racer. I love watching them. My favorite rodeo memory is when I got to see George Strait in person at the Houston event.

    I did a lot of research on rodeos when I wrote Lasso Around Her Heart about a barrel racer and a bronc rider. That research led to my post about them last winter and to a new series where all the heroines fall in love with rodeo performers. I read a little about this one in that research, but didn't get into the details which you have included. Thanks for the post.

    1. Ooh! Barrel racing! I admit I've always been fascinated by that sport as well. The sharp point turns, the speed, the agility. It would definitely be a thrill! SO cool to have seen George Strait in person. He's one of my favorite Country singers and performers. Rodeos are full of fun, adventure, and excitement, but they are also jam-packed full of possibilities for stories. Exciting to hear about your new series. With your background and knowledge, I'm sure it will be a fantastic series worth reading! And who knows? Perhaps you'll find a way to weave the Deer Trail Rodeo into one of your stories. :)