Contact Us

Historic Prison Rodeo Arena Demolished

Another piece of Texas history is falling under the wrecking ball.  The historic arena where the Texas Prison Rodeo was held for more than 50 years is being demolished to make way for…for…who knows what.  Something to be decided later.

 

via flickr/bobsaffle

The brick and concrete stadium on the grounds of the state’s oldest prison, the
Walls Unit, has sat empty and silent since its last rodeo in 1986.

For more than five decades, every Sunday in October, this historic arena hosted a spectacle that was billed as “The Wildest Show Behind Bars.”  The wrecking crew has moved in because officials worry that the crumbling structure could topple into the street that borders the prison. Work is expected to be finished next month.

courtesy Texas Prison Museum

In its heyday, the prison rodeo drew thousands of people to watch prison inmates trying to outdo each other in traditional rodeo events like bull and bronc riding, and unique contests like one called “Hard Money.”

 

via flickr/bobsaffle

In “Hard Money”, inmates on foot would try to grab a bag placed between the horns of an angry bull.  Inside the bag was at least $50, although donations could bolster the dollar amount well into the hundreds.

The first prison rodeo was held in 1931, to provide entertainment for employees and inmates during the Great Depression.  It was enormously popular, because in just a few years it was attracting upwards of 15,000 people, making it one of the biggest sports events in the state.

via flickr/zina@ameritech.net

Big name singers and musicians quickly became part of the show. Over the years, the prison rodeo featured a who’s who of country singers from Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Tom T. Hall and the list goes on…back to Bob Wills and Roy Acuff in the 40s and 50s.

 

So what happened to the rodeo?  In 1986, the state was in a budget crunch and money was tight. The rodeo arena needed repairs, but prison officials couldn’t justify spending more than half a million dollars on repairs, so they decided to shut it down rather than risk injuries to spectators.

There was another factor. The state was under pressure from human rights activists and others, who were growing uneasy and concerned by the spectacle of state prisoners performing a dangerous sport for the public and often getting injured.

Injuries were common because none of the inmates had any rodeo experience. It was also well known that many inmates would volunteer for the dangerous events hoping to get injured, so they could spend time away from their cell blocks recuperating in the prison hospital.

via Workers tear down famed home of Texas prison rodeo – Houston Chronicle.

The Texas Prison Museum website has a wonderful illustrated history of the Texas Prison Rodeo.  Read about it at:

via Featured Article: Texas Prison Museum.

police-lights
[

Man With A Gun Causes Scare At East Texas Walmart

A customer saw a man with a gun last Friday night at the Walmart in Sulphur Springs, and it turns out he had been driving a stolen pickup.  It turned out okay, but could have been much worse.

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News, News Tags: ,
Zack Ryder WWE
WWE
[

WrestleMania Is Coming To Texas

WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year for the WWE, and AT&T Stadium in Arlington gets the chance to host it in 2016.

Read More|Comment

Tim Boyle, Getty Images
Tim Boyle, Getty Images
[

What Does a Lifetime’s Worth of Pennies Get You? Not Much.

There's a man who lives over by Lubbock who has been saving pennies since 1952 and finally cashed them in.  You'll never guess how much cash he got for this lifetime of pennies.

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News, News Tags: , ,
bradley-cooper-lance-armstrong
[

Bradley Cooper Stops in Texas to Promote New Film

On Thursday actor Bradley Cooper found out he was nominated for Hollywood's biggest honor, an Oscar.  And the night before that he was in Texas, hanging out at an average, ordinary theater, to promote the film he's nominated for.

Read More|Comment

Traffic-heavy-200x300
[

Some Customized License Plates May Be Discontinued

It's a matter of demand.

If there are only a dozen or so people ordering certain customized license plates in Texas, it doesn't justify the cost to keep them going. Which ones are in jeopardy?

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News, News Tags:
Grilling Sausage
[

Texas BBQ Master Gets To Cook on Inauguration Day

When there's a big party in Texas, chances are there's barbecue involved.  And one well-known Texas smokehouse is handling all the food for the Governor's inauguration soon.

Read More|Comment

Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
[

Lots Of People Moved to Texas Last Year

There was a huge number of people who left states like New York and New Jersey last year, and Texas received a bunch of them.

When it comes to states people moved to in 2014, Texas is in the Top 10.

Read More|Comment

Beer2
[

You Don’t Have To Be Wasted To Get A DWI

If you're drinkin' on New Year's Eve, you're not drivin' right?

Heads up that there will be extra patrols on the roads watching tonight.  And it's not just drunk driving that will get you in trouble.  Buzzed driving can have you seeing flashing lights too.

Read More|Comment

Spencer Platt/Getty Image
Spencer Platt/Getty Image
[

New Device for Christmas? Check Out These Free Apps.

If you got a new smart phone for Christmas, you might be looking for the best apps to load it up.

Free ones, right?  Free is always good.  Here are some ideas.

Read More|Comment

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
[

These College Bowl Games Are Must-See

It's the most wonderful time of the year...if you love football.

Are you watching the college bowl games?  These are the ones that USA Today says we can't miss.

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News Tags: ,

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://ksfa860.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on NEWSTALK 860 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on NEWSTALK 860 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!