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Christmas the cowboy way

Museum celebrates with a Western flair

WEST BRANCH, Iowa – Have a merry little Cowboy Christmas at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum.

This annual exhibit has 20 western-style trees, as well as photos and items. Among the subjects of the themed-trees and displays are:

n Hollywood cowboys: John Wayne's shirt from "Fort Apache," Clint Eastwood's hat, Gene Autry's saddle, clothing that Roy Rogers wore and the spurs of Hopalong Cassidy deck this tree.

n Cowboy clothing: Chaps, boots, fringed shirts and other materials used for both comfort and weather protection are displayed.

n Saloon tree: Who doesn't remember seeing the cowboys' favorite watering hole? This tree shows pink feathers, poker chips, dice and playing cards – all part of the Old West saloon scene.

n Rodeo tree: Ornaments here show the many faces of the rodeo, where cowboys test their skills at roping and riding.

While "riding" across the prairie, take some time to check out the museum's nine permanent galleries. The first one invites visitors to get to know the Years of Adventure. They continue with stops at the Humanitarian Years, the Roaring Twenties, the Wonder Boy, the Logical Candidate, the Great Depression, From Hero to Scapegoat, an Uncommon Woman and Counselor to the Republic.

Gallery eight, an Uncommon Woman, focuses on Lou Henry Hoover, the president's wife. Her very active life included helping the wounded in China during the Boxer Rebellion and serving for years as a Girl Scout board member or officer.

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site includes a visitor center, birthplace cottage, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and Friends meetinghouse, as well as the library and museum.

Those wanting to find out a little more can look into the audio tour of the site by calling 888-244-4178. A list of the stops is available at the visitor center.

While in the area, stop at the West Branch Commercial Historic District along Main and Downey streets. The architecture is of particular interest showing the influence of the early 1900s. Sixteen places are on the National Register of Historic Places and are well worth a look.

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