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All Western Saddle Company

Birth place or City of origin: Lusk
State of origin: WY
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The All Western Saddle Company was the brainchild of Bill Vandegrift, a Colorado resident who came up with the idea of a plastic western saddle in the late 1940s with leather still in short supply following WWII. The huge sheets of plastic, called Geon, were about 1/4” thick, and basically the same material as today’s PVC pipe – coming in a variety of colors. It was possible to place a seamless cover on the saddle seat by heating the sheet and wrapping it while still warm around the form. The few seams that were necessary, such as around the horn or the stirrups were covered by decoration, according to plastic saddle aficionado and historian Tom Harrower. The All Western Plastic Company began operating in Lusk, WY, in 1946, moving to Scottsbluff in 1949. Vandergrift enlisted Tommy Nielsen, a saddle maker in Lusk, WY, and Bernard Thon, an excellent craftsman, to produce each hand- crafted saddle. Of the 65 or so that were made, about 37 have been located, and Harrower owns eight of them. Cowboy legend, Roy Rogers, was both a promoter and collector of the novelty saddles - frequently riding his flashy rose theme plastic saddle in the annual Pasadena Parade on New Year’s Day.

 

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