The Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame
Founded in 1978, the Cowboy Hall of Fame was initially a long-time dream of Lea County rancher and professional roper, Dale "Tuffy" Cooper. Cooper's idea of a place to honor the ranching and rodeo heritage of Lea County was presented by Sylvia Mahoney, then New Mexico Junior College’s rodeo coach, to the college’s interim president, R.N. Tydings. President Tydings and the NMJC Board of Trustees strongly supported the idea. It was decided that the dream could become a reality and belonged on the NMJC campus where the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the rodeo program would complement each other.
The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame soon outgrew its original location in Caster Gymnasium. In 2005, New Mexico Junior College erected a new museum facility and developed the museum that is today known as the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Western Heritage Museum and the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame work together to give an over-all history of the region. This partnership has provided the opportunity to offer more educational programs, more cultural events, and explore the pre-history of the region up to the modern age of oil and gas.
The Western Heritage Museum is a multi-functional center dedicated to bringing people together, providing numerous educational experiences, and presenting the diversity of the cultural and natural histories of Southeastern New Mexico and the surrounding regions. The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame is a 501 (c) 3 non profit corporation dedicated to the role of honoring those persons from Lea County, NM who have made outstanding contributions in the world of rodeo, ranching, and the ranching way of life. The Cowboy Hall of Fame honors individuals who have influenced the growth of our community through their leadership, and enhances and compliments the educational process at New Mexico Junior College.
Click here for a copy of the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame Bylaws. The original, signed copy is available at the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Photo credit: Steve Hines/Sourcebook Publications LLC