|George Bridge was the sixth of thirteen children born to Frank and Mary Heasley Bridge. Horses and George were one. The older boys literally lived with the horses and after a lingering illness, George joined the boys on the horse ranch and never went back to school regularly.
In the 1930’s the Weisner Brothers of Gann Valley, SD, organized and put on one of the first well-managed rodeos in South Dakota. George served as their main promoter and announcer for the rodeo. In the "dirty thirties" George also worked with the Mormon Horses building Highway 34. He was paid thirty-five cents an hour for handling a four-horse team. <p>In 1953, Bridge found an ox yoke and decided to break some steers. He purchased his first Scotch Highland steers from Baxter Berry. He tamed and broke the steers just as he had tamed animals all his life. The steers became quiet and trusting and later pulled George’s covered wagons in many parades. <p>In 1954 a scout for the Russo Entertainment Co. contacted George and arranged for he and his oxen to be one of the main attractions. At a 100th birthday celebration for the City of Omaha, NE, called the “Chuck Wagon of America,” George, with his oxen hitched to a covered wagon, performed for thousands of people. His oxen outfit was a regular part of the Days of ’76 Parades in Deadwood and a picture of George and his team parading in Deadwood appeared in National Geographic Magazine. <p>George lived his life with little money, but he was always willing to help another person. He gave of himself, both physically and financially, to help others. <p>On the occasion of George's 80th birthday, he rode his horse, Oke Doke, 50 miles round trip to his doctor’s appointment with Dr. Roscoe E. Dean, in Wessington Springs, SD. He spent the entire two-day trip sleeping in nature, as any cowboy would have done. <p>In 1971 George was presented with the keys to the city of Wessington Springs and “George Bridge Day” was declared.
|Home Town (Vermillion, SD)|