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The Bucking Auto


A story came out of Dickinson on this date in 1923 that cowboys at the Stark County Fair were facing more than bucking broncos. They were dealing with an early predecessor of the mechanical bull.

The article read, “Real cowboys of this section were undismayed by a specially constructed ‘bucking auto,’ and stayed with it in regular fashion, prize money being collected by several who proved to (the) crowds...that the critter could be ridden.”

It seems a stock car was used for this competition. The hubs of each wheel were placed off center, causing the car to buck and bounce. A seat or “dummy horse” was attached to the rear portion of the car and covered with a saddle. While the car’s actual driver had the luxury of being strapped in, the riders on back had to use their talents and wits to stay mounted, especially when the driver realized it was even better when he swerved back and forth.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm