The name of an old time Canadian cowboy has been placed into the national spotlight.
Out of the many great cowboys and cowgirls from across America, the cowboy artist and rodeo champion Earl Bascom was chosen to be honored as part of the National Day of the Cowboy celebration.
The National Day of the Cowboy has been celebrated for the past ten years throughout North America. The commemoration is held annually on the fourth Saturday of July in honor of the cowboy and the cowboy way of life – cowboy culture.
Earl Bascom posthumously received the prestigious 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award in honor of his international contributions in the promotion and preservation of the pioneer and cowboy culture.
Bascom was born on a ranch in Utah but raised on a ranch in Canada. His father John W. Bascom, was a true character of the Old West being a frontier lawman and rancher who furnished rodeo stock for local stampedes.
Cowboying and rodeoing was a way of life for Earl Bascom and his brothers Raymond, Melvin and Weldon. They rodeoed throughout the west.
Earl Bascom competed in the three rough stock events of saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding. A rodeo pioneer often called the “Father of Modern Rodeo” and the “Father of Bareback Bronc Riding,” Earl Bascom is considered the world’s greatest inventor of rodeo equipment.
The rodeo equipment that Bascom designed and made includes the modern bareback rigging (1924), modern rodeo bronc saddle (1922) and the bucking chute (1919). He and his brother Weldon produced a rodeo in Mississippi in 1935 which has been noted in rodeo history as the first night rodeo held outdoors under electric lights.
These rodeo innovations, all of which helped shape the sport of rodeo from its early beginnings, are still used today at rodeos around the world, almost 100 years later.
In 1933, Earl Bascom’s name was placed in the rodeo record books for setting a new world record time in the steer decorating event.
After graduating from the Brigham Young University with a degree in fine art, Bascom followed the example of his cousin Charles Russell and became an internationally known cowboy artist. He spent the last years of his life recording his many cowboy experiences into works of art and bronze.
Bascom was declared by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association to be the first professional rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor.
During his art career, Bascom was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, England, being the first cowboy to ever be so honored since the society’s beginning in 1754.
Earl Bascom even threw his hat into the Hollywood arena as an actor in the western movie “The Lawless Rider” and other film media, riding horseback alongside of the famous cowboy actor Roy Rogers.
When it comes to cowboy culture there probably is not anyone more cowboy than Earl Bascom.
During his lifetime he was an open-range cowboy, a bronc buster, cowpuncher, rodeo cowboy, rodeo champion, rodeo world record holder, rancher, trail drover, horse trainer, stagecoach driver, blacksmith, saddle maker, spur maker, bit maker, rodeo equipment designer, rodeo producer, rodeo announcer, rodeo clown and bull fighter, trick rider, freighter, wild horse chaser, dude wrangler, Hollywood western movie actor, as well as a cowboy artist and sculptor.
He took part in cattle drives out of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and across the Texas plains, drove bands of horses through the Teton Mountains, over Milk River Ridge and along Kicking Horse Creek in Montana.
“Once when I was working on the 5H Ranch outside of Lethbridge, I helped in the gathering of horses off the Canadian prairie. 7,000 horses were gathered all in one bunch a mile wide. You’ve never seen a prettier sight in all your life,” recalled Bascom
In 1994, on the Shahan Ranch near Uvalde, Texas, Earl and his son John took part in the historic longhorn cattle drive over the hills and through the streets Alamo Village where actor John Wayne once roamed, commemorating the 500 years of the American longhorn.
Bascom personally knew and talked to pioneers and homesteaders, outlaws and lawmen, gunslingers and bootleggers, prospectors and gold miners, Mormon Battalion soldiers and Civil War soldiers, Indian Chiefs and Indian War fighters, muleskinners and pony express riders, squatters and sheepherders, cattle rustlers and horse thieves.
“The life of a cowboy, I know,” Bascom said of his life which stretched from 1906 to 1995.
It’s no wonder that Earl Bascom has been called the “Cowboy of Cowboy Artists.”
The National Day of the Cowboy is a celebration for the heritage of the cowboy, promoted by a non-profit organization that works to preserve North America’s cowboy and pioneer heritage.
Being honored on the National Day of the Cowboy is a befitting tribute to one of the great cowboys of Canada and North America – Earl W. Bascom.