The History of Wyoming’s Bucking Horse and Rider Logo
Wyoming's Bucking Horse and Rider ranks among the most legendary logos in the country.
First registered as a trademark in 1936, the iconic image is the longest running license plate design in America and proudly represents the Cowboy State on the official state quarter, the state highway shield and at the University of Wyoming.
The original logo dates back to 1918, when First Sergeant George N. Ostrom drew the symbol, which was displayed on the uniforms of Wyoming National Guard soldiers serving in World War I.
Later versions of the logo feature a depiction of cowboy Clayton Danks riding the horse Steamboat at Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in 1909.
The original image, however, was inspired by Ostrom's horse Red Wing. The horse had accompanied the 148th Field Artillery Regiment to a parade in Cheyenne. During the parade, the horse got spooked by another animal and began bucking wildly.
In an effort to combat counterfeit license plates after their debut in 1936, Wyoming Secretary of State Lester Hunt commissioned an updated image from renowned Colorado artist Allen True for the sum of $75. True had preciously painted several murals at the State Capitol.
Another account attributes the updated design to a man named Les Wright. Wright, who owned and operated the Branding Iron Saloon in Dubois, Wyoming, claimed that he drew the image as a logo for the bar and later presented it to Hunt. Hunt denied Wright's version of the story.
Although the old Bucking Horse and Rider logo outside the Branding Iron Saloon burned down in 1948, the historic dance hall was restored and is now known as the "Whiskey Creek Saloon".