WINNEMUCCA - There were plenty of cowboy hats - some straw, some felt - at the Winnemucca Convention Center Saturday.

The occassion was the induction of this year's cowboys into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame. Three of the five made it in person this year - Sammy Spahan, Tom Marvel and Frank Bidart. Jack D. Hammond and Harry "Sharkey" Hunt were inducted posthumoroul

Those who attended listened solemly as Carl Hammond, a nephew of inductee Jack Hammond, read from the biographies of the hall of fame's class of 2013.

Spahan, it was said, could handle the unrideable and unbreakable wild horses back in the days before strays fell under the purview of federal land managers.

Jack Hammond

The lives they led at remote places like Jiggs Creek, Kelly Creek and Jakes Creek, Snowstorm. Cattle could roam 100 miles back when the range wasn't criss-crossed with fences.

After the induction, old friends put out their weathered hands with a "howdy" and "how are you doing, pardner?"

Sure, sentimentality is spread on as thick as jam on toast, but that's OK.

"I feel very grateful to be recognized," Tom Marvel said, with his plaque firmly tucked under his arm. "It's quite a tradition for us old fellows."

Marvel looks like he's still getting around OK for a guy who is 89 years old and started buckarooing in 1932 on the 25 Ranch. He's quick to smile and still rides, although he's not up for "long days" in the saddle.

His brother, longtime Assemblyman John Marvel of Battle Mountain, died last year. Too bad he wasn't around to enjoy the event.

Marvel said humility got the best of him a year ago and he balked at being nominated, but his granddaughter, Katie DeLong pushed the nomination along.

Frank Bidart still has a sparkle in his eye, even if a cane helps him get around. He's nearly 91, and just a little slower than the days of his youth, when he put in 40 miles on a horse.

"I logged more miles on horseback than I did in my pickup," he said of his buckarooing days.

When Carl had a few minutes, he took time to chat with a city slicker about the Buckaroo Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum, a project he founded in 1988 and incorporated as a nonprofit. The first inductees were in 1990, and it's been an annual event since then. A board votes on who gets in to the Hall of Fame.

Carl lives in Burns now, but was born in Winnemucca and spent 46 of his years in Humboldt County on the family ranches. He's an artist who does oil paintings of the cowboy and ranching lifestyle.

He still has aspirations to make Winnemucca the buckaroo capital of the West. The convention center is short on space to really display the jjj

Locating the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in its own building would be an asset to Winnemucca, a tourist draw, for sure.

But when you're trying to make a living, there's precious little time to write grants and lobby foundations for money. Mostly, Carl want to do what he's been doing for a long time - honor those who toiled for a hard-earned wage and made the beef industry in the West what it is today. The buckaroos were often employees of the ranches. They were not cattle barons.

But they were good at what they did and I felt like they needed to be recognized and remembered.

You can order a book on the buckaroo inductees at

Steve Lyon is editor of the Humboldt Sun. Contact him at