The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945 Page: 371
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The First Rodeo in Texas
the Panhandle of the early days stands today as the first true
forerunner of the western rodeo in the state of Texas.
Born before the advent of the Anvil Park rodeo, this event
stands as an unmarked memorial to the persons who settled
this region. Entirely lacking were the carefully evolved rules
which govern the rodeo of today. Absent also was the carefully
constructed rodeo grounds and imposing grandstand.
Lining the main street of the lively cow-town of Canadian
stood hundreds of old-timers who had settled this area of the
Panhandle who elected to risk the perils of attempted conquest
of infuriated outlaw horses. No ready referees were nearby
to halt the plunging ride as a timer's gun blasted an end to
10 seconds in the leather. Contestants rode until either horse
or man was proved the better and risked hazards of plunging
into buildings, railings, or spectators.
Negro George Washington was quite a noted bronc rider for
those days. On one occasion he rode a bucking horse down the
main street of Canadian, and the horse was bucking in the
vicinity of the Santa Fe tracks. Negro George was asked why
he did such a good job of bronc riding, and his answer was: "I
hadda ride dat hoss there if I ever rode one, because if I bucked
off, my head would be in the middle of dose steel rails."
Space had been provided on grounds adjacent to the Santa Fe
stock yards for the contest but on every day the streets of the
town were elected for horse races, tournament races-in fact
all the strenuous pastimes practiced peculiarly by the west.
Second day events closely paralleled those of the opening day,
with the festivities formulating into the allegedly more refined
pastime of dancing at night. Despite the supposed hilarity of
the occasion accidents were few and street fights and drunken
brawls entirely absent. Apparently the early population was
feeling the teaming influence of the approaching civility.
The most serious accident on that occasion happened to Billie
Nation, now living at Panhandle, Texas. He was engaged in the
steer roping contest, and as he roped the steer, the rope got
under the stirrup leather, and as the steer made a run, it threw
Billie off his horse on his head, and he was unconscious for a
period of about two hours. His injury proved to be quite serious,
and to this day he has felt the effects of the injury sustained on
Evidently, however, all present enjoyed the carnival for the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945, periodical, 1945; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/m1/415/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.