North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
Today and tomorrow, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame will celebrate its 16th induction ceremony in Medora. Eight inductees will be honored, including well-known North Dakotans like former rancher Leroy “Bud” Perry of Mountrail County, cowboy poet Bill Lowman of Sentinel Butte, rodeo stars Tom Solberg and Lynn Linseth, and Harold Schafer, founder of the Gold Seal Company, a key player in the development of Medora as an historic tourist site.
Since its conception in October 1994 and official organization the following February, the Cowboy Hall of Fame has inducted 150 into its Hall of Honorees, which is just one part of the Center of Western Heritage and Cultures: Native American, Ranching and Rodeo in Medora.
After two public meetings in early 1995, the Cowboy Hall of Fame was successfully launched, a Board of Directors organized, and Evelyn Neuens of Bismarck elected as the first president. The Board moved right into the site selection process, with 13 North Dakota communities initially expressing interest and 10 submitting proposals.
Finally, nine sites were considered. In addition to Medora, the others included Beach, Belfield, Bismarck, Bowman, Killdeer, Mandan, Towner and Watford City. The Board announced the selection of Medora one year later.
Grants and donations then began rolling in. Annual raffles and a cowboy cookbook helped in the fundraising effort. An exhibit design firm from Minneapolis signed on to the project. The Board hired the Hall’s first executive director, Darrell Dorgan of Bismarck, in September 1997.
It took over 10 years for fundraising and construction. A large crowd of members, donors and others attended the preview opening in May 1995. The grand opening followed on August 6 of that year.
Along with the Board, a group of over 200 trustees, located throughout North Dakota and beyond, help run and grow the Cowboy Hall of Fame. They promote memberships, line up donations and bring in nominations, which are used to select future inductees.
The Center of Western Heritage and Cultures continues to attract thousands of visitors each year, young and old alike, and the facility is also used for special events like weddings, conferences and reunions.
Dakota Datebook written by Cathy A. Langemo, WritePlus Inc.
NDCHF Cowboy Chronicle – Summer 2005
Bismarck Tribune – May 15, 2013