After obtaining the rodeo, Colborn's most immediate need was a ranch large enough to pasture the livestock. Accessibility to the railroad was also essential. Colborn eventually located a ranch 15 miles south of Dublin -- the 14,000 acre Lightning C -- and along with his wife, Ava, and two young daughters, Rosemary and Carolyn, began his new life in Texas. At that time, the Lightning C was the largest ranch in the world devoted entirely to rodeo stock.
In April of 1940 Dublin citizens witnessed the first performance of Colborn's "World's Championship Rodeo" at what is now the Dublin City Park. In September of that same year, 20th Century Fox sent a crew to film the rodeo for the Movie-Tone newsreel. Throughout their two-week stay, the crew filmed numerous scenes of the rodeo crew at work; including the livestock round-up and the subsequent trail drive to the railroad station to catch the "rodeo train." Dublin area residents still talk about the excitement that surrounded those events. The last scene of the newsreel featured the first New York performance of the rodeo. This short film was aptly titled Rodeo Goes to Town."
In 1942 Everett Colborn and his partners merged their rodeo with the rodeo of movie star, Gene Autry. During the following years Gene Autry performed with the rodeo in Dublin several times, as did Michael O'Shea, Ray Whitely, the Light Crust Doughboys and Bob Wills.
In 1946 the Dublin Rodeo Enterprises, Inc., with Clarence Leatherwood as president, constructed the Colborn Bowl -- the largest rodeo arena in the southwest at that time. The Dublin performance of the rodeo was changed from April to September and became the Pre-Madison Square Garden Rodeo to coincide with the annual trip to New York. As soon as the Dublin performance was finished, the entire rodeo -- lock, stock and barrel -- headed for the train. On the back of this special 24-car train was a large picture of Everett Colborn in action.
It took the wildest horses, the most vicious bulls, and the most talented cowboys and cowgirls to produce a good rodeo -- and Dublin's own World Championship Rodeo was undeniably the best.
The cowboys and cowgirls were second to none and included Harry Tompkins, Jim Shoulder, Casey Tibbs, Toots Marifield and Tad Lucas. And many movie stars performed for Everett Colborn and his rodeo including Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, the Lone Ranger, Rex Allen and, of course, Gene Autry.
For corrections and contributions regarding this World Wide Web page, contact Dr. Vernon L.Williams, ACU Box 28130, Department of History, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas
Telephone (325) 280-3399