Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame

Western Heritage Museum Hosts Dan Berry Dedication

9/5/2010 2:25:41 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. On Thursday, September 9, at 5:00 p.m., the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame will hold a ceremony for the dedication of a Desert Willow tree and memorial for Dan Berry.  Presented by the Rich Anderson family, the ceremony will honor the memory of Berry, who served for 17 years as a New Mexico state representative and who was instrumental in helping build the New Mexico Junior College arena and related programs. 

Daniel Carroll Berry was born in Benjamin, Texas, on September 14, 1922, as the sixth of seven children.  When he was very young, his family moved to eastern Lea County, New Mexico, and his uncle eventually founded the Berry Ranch west of Eunice, which was to play a prominent role in his life for a number of years. After serving in the Army Air Force in World War II, Berry managed the Ranch for some 28 years and later leased ranches east of Eunice.

Berry also served as senior director for the American Junior Rodeo Association for several years, worked as arena director at numerous rodeos in Lovington, Eunice, Artesia, Roswell, and Monahans, and helped with the National Finals in Odessa and Snyder, Texas, and Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

As Chairman of the Building Committee, he helped build the New Mexico Junior College rodeo arena and served as arena director for the first college rodeo ever held there. He also served on the National High School Rodeo Association as director and helped with the high school finals held north of Denver, Colorado.

His community service included serving as president of the Eunice School Board, president of the County District School Board Association, and president of the New Mexico State School Board Association.  In addition, he served as director of the National School Board Association and was inducted into the School Board Association Hall of Fame.

Berry’s public service included 17 years representing his district as New Mexico State Representative, and during his tenure, he served on the Tax Committee and chaired the Tax Study Committee, which was instrumental in passing the largest tax cut in New Mexico history. He also served on the Agriculture, Transportation, and Education Committees, chairing the Higher Education Committee for several years.

A highlight of his career was being appointed to the National Council of State Governments. He also served on the Western Conference of State Governments as chairman.  Berry was appointed by four different Secretaries of Interior to serve on the Land Use Guidelines Committee for the western United States. He was invited twice by President Ronald Reagan to the White House to discuss land problems in the West.

The ceremony honoring the memory of Dan Berry and his numerous contributions to the region and state will be held in the front circle of the Western Heritage Museum.  For more information, please contact Mary Lyle, Education and Event Coordinator, at 575.392.6730.

All Stories

About Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame

A prehistoric sea. Rich grasslands. Millions of buffalo. Ancient Indian tribes. The Great American Desert. Ranchers and homesteaders. World champion cowboys. The discovery of oil!

From the ancient, prehistoric sea that once covered the Permian Basin to the rugged individuals who tamed the Llano Estacado, or “staked plains,” the unique and colorful spirit of the timeless land of southern New Mexico can be explored fully at the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hobbs.

The museum's exhibits strikingly depict the vast region's fascinating background. As the largest non-mountainous land formation in North America, the Llano Estacado covers an area larger than the combined states of Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Throughout the centuries, this expansive area was comprised of rich grasslands that supported life for millions of buffalo, as well as a number of Native American peoples.

Long known as “The Great American Desert, ” the Llano Estacado was avoided by Europeans for centuries. It wasn't until the 1880s that bison hunters discovered the La Pista de Vida Agua, or Trail of Living Waters, which ran across northern Lea County. From that point on, the area underwent extensive exploration by the legendary Buffalo Soldiers and others.

Such efforts of early explorers convinced some that there was enough water to sustain livestock—if one was lucky enough to gain control of the few springs and lakes in the region. However, with the advent of the windmill, which pumped life-giving water from far below the surface, life on the Llano Estacado was changed forever. Now, enterprising homesteaders, cowboys, and ranchers were able to move onto the seemingly inhospitable rangelands to begin staking a future for themselves and their families.

As these hearty pioneers slowly began to tame the region, one last secret was discovered deep within the bosom of the Llano Estacado: oil! And with this discovery, the face of the Llano Estacado was to be transformed yet again. . .

Come discover for yourself the compelling history, the rugged men and women, and the rich traditions beautifully showcased in the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hobbs!

Background: At approximately 29,000 square feet, the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame was completed late fall 2005 and opened January 14, 2006. In addition to offering world-class exhibits throughout the year that exemplify the diversity, beauty, and rich cultural traditions that have shaped the American Southwest, the Museum also serves as home to the renowned Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, which boasts more world champion cowboys than any other region in the world!

The Museum is located on the Lovington Highway (State Highway 18) between New Mexico Junior College and Lea Regional Hospital (and just past Zia Park Racetrack & Casino!). Come check out all the exciting new happenings around Hobbs!

Regular hours of operation: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.

Adults - $3
Seniors (65+) - $2
Youth (6-18) - $2
Children 5 and under - Free

School groups from Lea County will be admitted free of charge.
School groups from outside the County will pay $1 admission fee.

Discounts will be offered to military, American Automotive Association (AAA), and groups of 10 or more.


For additional information contact:

Darrell Beauchamp – Exec. Dir. Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame
New Mexico Junior College
1 Thunderbird Circle
Hobbs, NM 88240