Everett Colborn & Lightning C Ranch

Everett Colborn

Everett E. Colborn was born July 26, 1892 in DeLamar, Idaho. He grew up on a ranch and was familiar with and enjoyed all aspects of the cattle business. In time he became a roper of skill and entered many rodeos in that event. Finally moving into the business of furnishing livestock for area shows, he produced rodeos in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

In 1931, he entered into an agreement with the late Colonel W.T. Johnson, rodeo producer from San Antonio, to furnish a carload of top bucking horses each fall for the Madison Square Garden Rodeo. Colborn worked first as a judge, later as an arena director at the Garden rodeos.

In 1937, Everett, together with Harry Knight and a group of Arizona businessmen, purchased the rodeo from Colonel Johnson. Colborn came to Texas in 1937 looking for a ranch large enough to hold his newly purchased rodeo company of Madison Square Garden fame. He finds a ranch fourteen miles southeast of Dublin and calls it the Lightning C Ranch. The Lightning C Ranch became the largest ranch dedicated to rodeo stock in the world. Colborn leases a 24-car train to move his rodeo company to New York, Boston, and other larger rodeo venues and drives his stock into Dublin by horseback. Realizing the potential investment in 1939, several Dublin businessmen partnered with Colborn to start a rodeo in Dublin.

In April of 1940, Dublin held its first performance of Colborn’s World’s Championship Rodeo at the city park where Gene Autry attends for the first time. Later in September 1940, 20th Century Fox films a movie-tone newsreel of the round up at the Lightning C Ranch driving of the stock into Dublin and loading the rodeo train. This film was shown overseas during World War ll. By 1942, Gene Autry becomes partners and merges his rodeo, “Flying A Ranch Rodeo” with Everett Colborn’s “World’s Championship Rodeo” and becomes one of the biggest and best rodeos of all time. In the following twenty-two years, Colborn continued to produce the rodeo at Madison Square Garden as well as top rodeos in other parts of the nation.

Everett Colborn was a superb showman and the quality of the shows he produced added much to the prestige of rodeo. He sold his interest in the rodeo to Gene Autry in 1960 and returned to the cattle business. He died March 20, 1972 at his home in Dublin, Texas.