CHRISTENSEN BROTHERS RODEO COMPANY
Inducted in 1999
For nearly forty years, from 1950 to 1986, the Christensen Brothers Rodeo Company served the Ellensburg Rodeo as its primary stock contractors. Their exemplary service, wrangling and pickup skills, and the renowned quality of their bucking and rodeo stock, has earned them the honor of being 1999 Inductees to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Bob Christensen, Sr., and Henry “Hank” Christensen were born to Oregon pioneer emigrants Lawrence and Mollie Almazie Christensen in 1911 and 1913, near Eugene. Bob Sr. and Hank ran the family ranch alongside their kid sister Martha (“Babe”), and the Christensen boys garnered a reputation for being able to “ride and rope just about anything that moved.” In 1936, the Christensens began to stage “Sunday rodeos” on their spread, charging a dime per customer. After producing a small, successful rodeo in nearby Crawfordsville, Oregon, the Christensens knew they had found their calling. The Christensen Brothers Rodeo Company, was born.
For over fifty years, Bob Sr. and Hank Christensen and, later, Bobby Jr., rode the rodeo road. The Christensen Brothers were famed for Bobby Sr.’s pickup skills, Vicki and Sherri Christensen’s trick riding, and a string of outstanding bucking broncs and bulls that included War Paint (’56, ’57, and ’58 World Champion Saddle Bronc), Miss Klammath, Blackhawk, Mr. Smith (aka Smith and Velvet, ”78, ’79, ’81, and ’82 World Champion Bareback Bronc), Oscar, and Oscar’s Velvet.
The Christensens contracted the Ellensburg Rodeo throughout four decades of the company’s history. “We were happy to get Ellensburg in 1950…We did Ellensburg, Lewiston, and Pendleton…Ellensburg was always special,” Bobby Sr. noted in John Ludtka’s The Tradition Lives On. And the Christensen Brothers gave much of themselves to the rodeo world. Their ranch was home for many a cowboy ‘down on his luck’; Bob Sr. once noted “Hank spent a million dollars helping cowboys.” Hank was also known for saying to any rodeo committee strapped for cash, “That’s o.k. You catch us next time.” In 1989, Bobby Sr., and Hank Christensen were inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The Christensen Brothers Rodeo Company flourished until the late 1970s when, according to 100 Years of Rodeo Stock Contracting, management difficulties and loss of revenue forced them to sell out. In 1986, Harry Vold and Bob Thain formed the new Vold-Christensen Brothers Rodeo Company. In 1987 Bob Sr., Bobby Jr., and Tracy Denly bought the company back; in 1989 Bobby Jr. sold out to Denley. The reign of the Christensen Brothers–the largest independent contractors in the history of Pacific Northwest rodeo–came to an end. Their legacy continues.