In the same year that Jack Thorp was having his cowboy songs printed in Estancia, Tucucmari was incorporated as a city.
The year was 1908.
It is not known if Thorp was ever in Tucumcari, but Colorado historian and musician Mark Gardner said Thorp traveled all over the state collecting range ballads. So, it is possible Thorp visited the area.
Thorp is known as the first collector of cowboy ballads, Gardner said.
Gardner and fellow musician Rex Rideout sang some of those old range ballads Friday night at the Heritage Dayze festival at the Tucumcari Historical Musuem. The festival continues today.
The appearence of Gardner and Rideout marked the beginning of an eight-city tour by the twosome in New Mexico sponsored by the New Mexico Humanities Council.
Executive director of the council Craig Newbill, who is a Tucumcari High School graduate, also attended last night’s performance. The tour is part of the council’s centennial celebration of New Mexico’s statehood, Newbill has said.
Ironically, Thorp (1867-1940) was a New Yorker who became fascinated with the West as a teenager during summer visits. He eventually made New Mexico his home, Gardner said. While Thorp collected others songs, he also wrote cowboy tunes, including “Little Joe, the Wrangler.”
The song was very popular in the 1930s, “It sold over 100,000 copies but Thorp never made one cent,” Gardner said.
And the song is still popular today.