Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum
If you think “cowboy” and “arts” are two terms that don’t belong together, then you haven’t visited the Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum in Elko yet. It’s OK. Once you experience this throwback tribute to the craftsmen who produced some of the finest saddles, spurs and bits in the Old West, you’ll understand why this Elko attraction is such an integral part of the area’s history.
The museum is at 542 Commercial St. in downtown Elko and is named after artist/craftsman/entrepreneur G. S. Garcia, who originally opened his shop in 1894 and operated it until 1935. Garcia quickly became known for his high quality work, and soon cowboys came from across the West to purchase his saddles, which featured intricate silverwork and precious gems. Today, visitors can still watch a master saddle maker at work, as he carries on a tradition nearly 100 years in the making. What else would you expect from the home of the original Garcia Bit & Spur?
History of the Cowboy Arts & Gear Building
Garcia’s old saddle shop eventually housed several businesses, including NV Energy, until 2016 when the shop was restored to its original appearance and reborn as the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum. Garcia’s leatherwork remains on display alongside items from private collections. Today, the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum keeps historic traditions alive, offering leather stamping classes, workshops and demonstrations showing how silver is engraved. Rawhide branding classes are also offered. Learn more at (775) 389-1713.
J.M. Caprioloa Co.
The G.S. Garcia tradition is carried on next door at the J.M. Capriola Co., a purveyor of rancher and cowboy goods since 1929. Among the items for sale are saddles, custom leather products, ropes, bits and spurs and other goods that combine practicality with visual appeal. J.M. Capriola is located at 500 Commercial St.
Great Basin Gear Show
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Each year, the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum hosts the Great Basin Gear Show. Highly accomplished bit makers from throughout North America transform raw metals into beautiful bits which are then judged and auctioned for purchase.
Gear makers, ranchers, cowboys, collectors and western heritage aficionados gather at the museum to view entries and participate in the silent auction. For more information, call (775) 389-1713 or visit cowboyartsandgearmuseum.org.