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2013 Inductee Earl Bascom can claim rights to both a cowboy and an artist legacy.  Born and raised a Cowboy, Earl developed a love for scultpure and bronze casting at the urging of his wife. 

Read More: The Sun

Since even before the first cowboy rode onto the silver screen, the world's love affair with the American West has burned brightly.
While most historians agree that the "Old West" ended around the turn of the 20th Century, there have been individuals who were determined to preserve this legacy.

In San Bernardino County, we had one of those renaissance cowboys. His name was Earl Wesley Bascom.

Born in Utah in 1906 and raised in Alberta, Canada, Earl did about everything you could do having to do with cows and horses. He worked on some of the largest horse and cattle ranches in the United States and Canada, worked on cattle drives out of the Rockies and trailed horses over the Teton Mountains.

Earl rodeoed for 25 years (1916-1940), gaining acclaim by winning second place in the North American Championship and placing third in the Championship of the World.

During his career, Bascom competed in events including bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, steer riding, steer wrestling, steer decorating, wild cow milking, and wild horse racing. He also worked as a rodeo producer, stock contractor, rodeo announcer, pickup man, hazer, rodeo clown and bullfighter.

Earl was also known in rodeo history as the inventor, designer and maker of the first hornless bronc saddle (1922) and the first one-hand bareback rigging (1924), both of which are now used worldwide at all professional rodeos. In 1926, Earl designed and made rodeo's first high-cut riding chaps that are in standard use today.

Known as the "Bronc-Bustin' Bascom Boys," Earl and his brothers Raymond, Melvin and Weldon were rodeo pioneers involved in just about every aspect of the sport. In 1916, at their ranch in Welling, Alberta, Canada, the Bascom boys designed and built history's first side-delivery rodeo chute.

In 1919, Earl and his father, John W. Bascom, designed and built rodeo's first reverse opening rodeo chute.

In 1935, Earl and Weldon produced the first rodeo in Columbia, Miss., which is now declared to be the first night rodeo held outdoors under electric lights. A year later, Earl designed and constructed Mississippi's first permanent rodeo arena.

Earl was declared "Rodeo's First Collegiate Cowboy," being the first man to finance his way through Brigham Young University, starting in 1933 and graduating in 1940.

After graduating in 1940, he and his wife, Nadine, moved from Utah to Los Angeles and then Ontario where they bought a ranch in the early 1950s. In 1956 Earl moved to Hesperia for work, with the family coming to the High Desert the following year.

Shortly after Victor Valley College opened in 1961, Earl started taking art classes at VVC and continued through 1965. During this time, Earl also served as president of the High Desert Artists local art club.

After moving to Provo, Utah, for one year -- with Nadine graduating from BYU and Earl qualifying for his lifetime teaching certificate -- they returned to the High Desert, settling in Victorville during the summer of 1966.

Both of them got teaching jobs in Barstow, Nadine in elementary school and Earl teaching art classes at Barstow High and at John F. Kennedy High School. After that one year of teaching, Earl retired to become a full time artist.

At his wife's urging, Earl took a class in sculpture and bronze casting from UC Riverside. The professor was impressed with Earl's work and encouraged him to continue his sculpting. A cousin to Western artists Charles M. Russell and Frederic S. Remington, he became an internationally known Western artist and sculptor. In fact, Earl was the first cowboy elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Arts of London, England, and the oldest cowboy ever elected a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association.

For all his talents and achievements, Earl Bascom's name is listed in Who's Who in American Art, Who's Who in Western Writers of America, Who's Who in the West, Who's Who in California, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World.

Earl's youngest son, Victor Valley historian and artist, John Bascom, fondly remembers his father as a humble, down-to-earth man, who was extremely talented.

John recalled in a recent interview: "Dad was a great adventurer and creator. If you gave him a pair of pliers and baling wire, he could think the problem through and fix it."

The younger Bascom learned bronze casting while studying at Brigham Young University. After he graduated in 1972, he came back to Victorville and set up a bronze casting foundry, the first in the valley, to cast his father's beautiful art work.

The renaissance cowboy Earl Bascom died at the age of 89 on his ranch in Victorville, Aug. 28, 1995.

On May 23, 2013, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, inducted Earl Bascom and fellow rodeo cowboy and distant cousin Raymond Knight as rodeo pioneers.

While Ray Knight has been called the "Father of Professional Canadian Rodeo" having started the Raymond Stampede in 1902 and coined the rodeo term "stampede," Earl Bascom has been called the "Father of Modern Rodeo" having made important pieces of rodeo equipment that made modern rodeo an exciting and safer sport.

Do you remember that old Willie Nelson song, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys"?

In San Bernardino County, we had one heck of a cowboy hero. His name was Earl Wesley Bascom.

Read More: - The Sun - www.sbsun.com