Rodeo center releases newly uncovered, decades-old material

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Farm Forum

A dusty, forgotten box found in a California storage shed revealed rare photographs and journals of Casey Tibbs. Tibbs, a 9-time world bronc riding champ whose record has never been matched, had saved many personal photos and letters. Five or more decades ago, he had given the documents to his long-time friend who is now in her late 90’s.

“I received a call from a woman asking me if we would be remotely interested in the items,” said Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center Director Cindy Bahe. “I would have been a fool to turn down a rare find such as that. When I received the box, I was like a kid in a candy store. Inside, there were photos I had never seen – one with Dale Evans and photos of Casey with several actors. There were publicity photos of Casey visiting patients in California hospitals, photos of people riding horses through the river during the filming of the movie “Born to Buck,” and a rare photo of Casey and Miss South Dakota 1954 Cleo Harrington, whom Casey eventually married.”

The box also contained journals, typed by a ribbon typewriter on thin, fragile onion paper. The journals, written by Casey, were his personal accounts of his life growing up on the prairie of South Dakota, a tense poker game he was involved in and when he fell in love with his soon-to-be wife Cleo. “We reproduced the journals verbatim, leaving in language lingo and mistakes, to preserve their authenticity,” said Bahe. “Casey was quite a character and didn’t leave anything to the imagination, so the stories are quite interesting to read.”

The Rodeo Center also received several photos from a separate donor of Casey purchasing a purple Cadillac from a Mobridge car dealer. Casey needed good transportation to hit the South Dakota rodeo circuit and he traveled in style.

“We’re excited to add these artifacts to the Rodeo Center. So many things have changed with our world over the last five or six decades, and it’s interesting to read the way of life as a rodeo celebrity who was front and center in the western way of life,” concluded Bahe.