Dickinson Research Center Logo National Cowboy & Western Heritage Logo
Skip Navigation Links
Gallery Guide  

Plaza and Gardens

Selected Images of the Plaza & Gardens

Search the Library Catalog

Search the Image Archive Database

Plaza & Gardens

The grounds on the 18-acre site of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum are replete with color and movement. Placed throughout the space are a series of outdoor sculptures ranging from Welcome Sundown greeting visitors at the entrance to Coming through the Rye on the Western States Plaza and Paint Mare and Filly nestled safely in a little grove of trees in Hambrick Garden. These fine art works are viewed among trees, flowers, ponds, and running streams that create a tranquil outdoor setting, which completely complements the indoor setting of the museum in every aspect.

There are four unique garden areas on the grounds. The Norma Sutherland Garden with its tinkling waterfall, still ponds, and natural vegetation occupies a space near the Children's Cowboy Corral, while the Atherton Garden lies in a secluded spot almost within the building itself. The Western States Plaza, surrounded by flower beds and a massive water feature filled with sparkling fountains, dominates the space between the wings of the museum. Beyond the Plaza lies the Hambrick Garden, with its flowing streams, massive trees, gorgeous flower beds, and wonderful sculptures, which completes the carefully planned outdoor features of the museum.

Selected Images of the Plaza & Gardens  

Plaza From the Western States Plaza one can see James Earle Fraser's End of the Trail inside the Museum. The statue reflects the varying colors of dawn, sunrise, mid-day, dusk, and sunset, creating a wonderful artist's palette of color for the visitor.

Glistening pools and fountains draw the eye towards the landscaping and gardens.

Stream One of the several streams which flow through Hambrick Garden, located beyond the Western States Plaza. Here, one feels peaceful while the water sings as it flows over rocks and pebbles alongside the path.

Coming Through the Rye, Remington Coming Through the Rye
Frederick Remington

A contemporary of the artist wrote of Remington's sculpture: "Here are four cowboys, wild, harum-scarum devils, shooting up a town from the mere joy of a healthy existence, plus the exhilaration produced by frontier rum! They are dashing down the street, the ponies at top speed, spurning the ground beneath their feet -- only six of those pattering hooves touch the earth!" The technical feat of creating a sculpture in which the outer horses do not even touch the ground pleased Remington greatly, as he pushed the limits of bronze casting and imbued his subjects with a naturalistic energy.

The Norma Sutherland Garden is dominated by a 25-foot rock formation. A waterfall flows from these rocks to a reflecting pool full of catfish and water lilies. Masses of columbines, black-eyed Susans and other wildflowers bloom there. Nearby, the Atherton Garden is a secluded garden filled with native flowers and greenery.

All through the year, Museum groundkeepers maintain flowering garden beds, lush lawns, tall trees and lovely bushes.

Ring of Bright Water, Kent Ullberg Ring of Bright Water
Kent Ulberg, sculptor
Sculpture, bronze, 6'3" x 4' x 2'3"
Permanent Art Collection, 2001
A past Prix de West Award winner.

Kent Ullberg answers Artist Interview Magazine Marisa Darnel's question of how an artist can influence people through art work with a social message: "Artists influence people by reflecting key issues of their times. Today, it's nature, wildlife and the environment – all icons tied to human survival. Using nature's images in monumental sculptures raises public consciousness about wildlife and the natural environment. The interest in wildlife and environment preservation as expressed in public art did not exist a generation ago. But they're widely accepted and embraced today."

Koi in the streams and ponds Beautiful koi reside in the Hambrick Garden ponds.

In the Land of the Water People, Richard Greeves In the Land of the Water People
Richard Greeves, sculptor
Sculpture, bronze, 62 x 34 x 27 in.
1977 Prix de West Purchase Award.

About this sculpture, Greeves writes, "Although the Water People inhabit the earth, as do humans, only humans that stay as nature's children are able to hear and, on very rare occasions, see them. The facts are few that are known about them. Their desires are said to be the same as humans and their magic powers strong."

Herons, Walter T. Matia Herons
Walter T. Matia
Donated by Jackie Coles

These gorgeous herons stand above the waterfall, flowering bushes, and hostas.

Herons, Walter T. Matia Herons
Walter T. Matia
Donated by Jackie Coles

In 2002, Matia's sculpture won the Major General and Mrs. Don D. Pittman Wildlife Art Award for Exceptional Artistic Merit for a Wildlife Painting or Sculpture.

Matia's first subjects were birds, creatures he finds inherently beautiful: "Some of the leggy birds, their gestures are so elegant, they're sculptural."

Sentinels, Kent Ullberg Sentinels
Kent Ullberg
Permanent Art Collection, 2003.

Donated by Jack and Phoebe Cooke.

Sentinel III
Limited Bronze Edition of 20
47" x 70" x 48"

Sentinel II
Limited Bronze Edition of 20
40" x 20" x 35"

Redbuds Blooming in Spring Redbuds blooming in spring.

Paint Mare and Filly, Goodnight Paint Mare and Filly
Veryl Goodnight

Presented by The American Paint Horse Association

On her website, Goodnight writes: "I was born loving animals and the American West, this has been the focus of my art for over three decades. Working from life was initially an excuse to be outdoors and near the horses, birds, and many other animals that shared my life. The reality, however, is that having a living, breathing model nearby not only provides information that a thousand photos couldn't convey, it keeps me excited. Working from life also keeps me from becoming repititious. The subtle differences of each living being have become my passion, whether I am sculpting or painting."

The headstone for Baldy, Steamboat, and Hells Angels, surrounded by beautiful azaleas, is located near the statue of Buffalo Bill in the Cooke Garden.

State of Oklahoma The Western States Plaza features seventeen flagpoles for the continental western U.S. state flags and each is represented by a round plaque like the one for the State of Oklahoma pictured here.

Buffalo Bill Cody Buffalo Bill Cody
"The Legend of the Westerner"

This statue of Buffalo Bill represents the West in all its heroic glory and legend. No other figure in the history of the West was as loved and admired throughout the world as William F. Cody. He was the West's greatest showman and ambassador; He was the first honoree elected by trustees to the Hall of Fall of Great Westerners.

Astride his powerful horse Brigham, from this site atop Persimmon Hill he beckons all to the opening of the West. On to the Rocky Mountain! On to the promise of gold, to open land, freedom, and opportunity! Buffalo Bill points the way, over yonder, to all.

Beautiful Persimmon Hill is a gateway to the West. Historically, Indians camped here, hunted, and lived in peace. Buffalo herds grazed quietly. The great trail herds of longhorns passed by this site, to be followed by caravans of white-topped covered wagons. From here on west, the grass becomes shorter, the streams clearer, the air more rare, and the nights cooler.

The famous film star Joel McCrea was the inspiration for this statue because of his role in the motion picture "Buffalo Bill." The sculpture was created by artist Leonard McMurry. Juan Menchaca, Chief Curator of the Cowboy Hall of Fame, designed the fountain base and setting. The statue, thirty-three feet high and weighing nineteen tons, was cast by Bernhard Zuckerman in Pietra Santa, Italy.

Sponsors were Mrs. Dave D. (Aunt Nona) Payne, Pampa, Texas and Jasper D. Ackerman, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dedicated the Nineteenth of June A.D. 1977

River Companions, Kent Ullberg View of Remington's Coming Through the Rye through Kent Ullberg's Ring of Bright Water.

Coming Through the Rye, Remington Looking back towards the Museum, Western States Plaza, and Remington's Coming Through the Rye from the Hambrick Garden.

Midnight Midnight

"Under this sod lies a great bucking hoss.
There never lived a cowboy he couldn't toss.
His name was Midnight, his coat black as coal.
If there is a hoss heaven, please, God, rest his soul."
- A Cowboy

5 Minutes to Midnight 5 Minutes to Midnight
August 1

"Again the Reaper has visited the corral.
He took 5 Minutes to Midnight, the cowboy's pal."
- A Cowboy

Poker Chip Poker Chip

Poker Chip was the result of a plan to breed rope horses on Rancho Jabali near Lompog, California, in 1950. Out of the Waggoner mare Sage Hen and sired by Driftwood, his confirmation was the best of the Quarter Horse breed. In his prime he was a dappled grey with dark points and stood fifteen hands. Red Harris of Queen Creek, Arizona, took two years making the colt and in 1954 Dale Smith acquired him. During the ten years Dale roped off him, Poker earned his reputation as one of the greatest rope horses of all time, with the speed, strength, balance, and coordination of a superb athlete. Although a little fractious in the chute, he had a smooth but devastating stop and gained much popularity winning the Calgary Stampede, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Pendleton Round-Up, and the California Rodeo. Permanently injured in a trailer wreck in 1969, he was retired and had the run of Dale's ranch in Chandler, Arizona, for the next fourteen years. Poker Chip died of old age in 1977.

Abilene Abilene

In 1967, Oklahoma businessman Percy Jones donated a Texas Longhorn steer named Abilene to the Museum. "Ab," as the steer was nicknamed, stood five feet nine inches tall, weighed 2,100 pounds and had an overall horn spread of about eight feet. Abilene's magnificent size and appearance made him a tremendous public relations ambassador.

Sporting his blue and white satin blanket, Abilene appeared as the Museum's mascot at major events, rodeos and town parades throughout the West. Museum employee Mac McClain looked after the Longhorn and transported him to various promotional activities in a custom-made stock trailer. Abilene resided on the Museum grounds in a specially constructed corral from 1967 to 1970. Thousands of children and adults came to see the living example of a bygone era, and he became one of the favorite attractions at the Museum until his death in 1970. He was laid to rest near this spot.

This marker was made possible through a generous donation by long-time member of the Board of Trustees Linda Mitchell Davis of Cimarron, New Mexico.

Dedicated upon the Museum's 50th Anniversary, April 2005

Tornado Tornado

Tornado weighed 1,500 pounds. Red with a white face, he was a crossbred bull, half Brahman, half Hereford. Some say he was the best rodeo bucking bull that ever lived. Unridden in six competitive seasons, Tornado bucked off 220 professional cowboys, all victims of that storm of turbulence for which he was named.

One of the reasons that made him great, aside from his natural bucking, jumping and spinning, was his clown-and-barrel-fighting ability. But he was not a killer bull. He bucked just hard enough to toss his rider. The better the cowboy rode, the harder Tornado bent to his task.

He was finally conquered on December 1, 1967, at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. The mighty Little Freckles Brown of Soper, Oklahoma, mastered Tornado for eight seconds in a never-to-be-forgotten ride that is indelibly etched in the annals of pro-rodeo.

A few years later, stock contractor Jim Shoulders retired his bull to a well-deserved rest in a lush pasture on his J Lazy S Ranch at Henryetta, Oklahoma. Tornado died in 1972 of old age – he was 15 – and is buried here in the shade.

Baby Doll Combs Baby Doll Combs

P-81 497
Foaled May 1947
Died Aug. 31, 1960

Baby Doll Combs was a registered Quarter Horse mare and a prominent rodeo horse owned by Willard Combs, a steer wrestler or bulldoger who competed in the rodeo circuit in the 1950s. Combs won the Rodeo Cowboy's Association World Champion Steer Wrestler title in 1957 with Baby Doll. Between 1953 and her death in 1960 she earned over $400,000 in prize money, and in 1957 when she won the title for Combs, she also carried the riders who finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the standings. Bill Linderman, a famous rodeo cowboy, once said that "Baby Doll knew bulldogging better than some of the guys who rode her."

She was bay mare who weighed about 1030 pounds and stood about 14.1 hands high. She had a blaze and a left hind sock as the only white on her. Baby Doll died of a ruptured intestine in 1960 at a Kansas rodeo, but her owner had her returned to Checotah, Oklahoma where he lived so that she could be buried on his ranch. Many of the cowboys were present at the ceremony, and a photograph of them at the graveside appeared in Life Magazine. She was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association's Hall of Fame in 2004. The PRCA honored her in 1979 by inducting her into their Hall of Fame in the first group of inductees. Later she was moved to be interned in the gardens at the Museum.

Baldy Baldy
Great Cow Pony, era 1940

Baldy, sired by Red Buck out of the Steel Dust mare Babe Dawson, was bred by pioneer Quarter Horse man John Dawson and foaled in 1932 at Talala, Oklahoma. He was raised from a yearling on Ronald Mason's Cross J Ranch near Nowata. Ike Rude bought him as a three year old, named him Baldy, and made a rope horse out of him. Baldy had a natural stop that developed into the best stop of any calf horse ever known. Although no more than a half dozen men could really ride him well, he had the reputation of being the best rope horse in rodeo history. In January of 1942, Rude sold Baldy to Clyde Burk for the unheard of price of $2500. That year and again in 1944, Burk won the world championship riding Baldy. After Clyde's death in 1945, Baldy was sold to Troy Fort, who also won the world championship in 1947, the first year he owned the horse and again in 1949. It is estimated that over $300,000 dollars have been won on Baldy. Troy retired him in 1950 after the horse suffered a heart attack. Baldy died in 1961 and is buried at the Jake McClure Arena in Lovington, New Mexico.

Steamboat Steamboat
Symbol of the Spirit of Wyoming

Steamboat was the most famous, and the first, bucking horse to gain wide acclaim. A legend in his own time, the great riders he bucked off and the championships won on him were many. Foaled near Laramie, Wyoming, at four he was easy to handle and a good cow-horse prospect. He was also then recognized as an outstanding bucking horse with a peculiar whistle "like a steamboat."

His fame rapidly spread throughout the West. In an arena career that spanned fourteen years, he never failed to buck. His record of performance is a western tradition.

Hells Angels Hells Angels
Great Bucking Horse, era 1940

Hells Angels was foaled on the Lew Parks Ranch near Dillon, Montana, in 1927. He was by a Percheron sire out of a Pinto mare. A cowboy tried to break him to ride and did gather horses on him for two months, but he never could get the buck out of him and gave up.

In 1932, the horse was sold as a bucking horse for $65. The following year Mike Hastings, bucking-horse scout for Colonel W.T. Johnson, bought the horse from Wyoming rodeo producer Buck Yarbrough. While in Johnson's herd and, from 1937 on, in the Everett Colburn String, Hells Angels gained a reputation as the toughest bucking horse in rodeo. Only a handful of cowboys ever made qualified rides on him; Most notable was Fritz Truan, who rode him five times out of seven. Hells Angels died on a train returning from New York in 1942. He was one of the greatest bucking horses of all time.

Elijah the Pack Horse Elijah the Pack Horse

In February, 1956, an airplane pilot sight a bay pack horse marooned above Timberline in the Colorado Rockies. Soon horse lovers everywhere financed a daily hay-lift which kept this horse alive and prompted the name Elijah, after the biblical character who was fed by ravens. The story of his plight and rescue was the subject of editorials, broadcasts, and even songs. This monument is dedicated by the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch and Guest Ranch Association who adopted Elijah as its mascot and emblem.

Tipperary, A Great Bucking Horse, 1910-1932 Tipperary
Great Bucking Horse

The great bucking horse Tipperary was discovered at a World War I horse inspection in South Dakota where he was rejected as a pacer. South Dakota rancher Charles Wilson acquired the horse and Tipperary became one of the toughest bucking horses in rodeo history. By 1916 a $500 challenge that nobody could ride him was put up at the Belle Fourche. Tipperary had had over 80 victories to his credit including such tough riders as Sam Brownell, Leonard Stroud, Oklahoma Curly Roberts, Howard Tegland, and Earl Thode before a qualified ride under Cheyenne rules was made on him by Yakima Canutt at Belle Fourche 1920. Tipperary is buried at Buffalo, South Dakota.

Boots and Horseshoes Boots and Horseshoes.

Happy trails!

Dickinson Research Center
at the
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111 (405) 478-2250
Copyright © 2018 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum