The History of Bolo Ties

     I was writing a ranch wedding scene in the 3rd.  book in the Big D Dad – The Daltons series the other day and decided to do a little research on the history of bolo ties. I found some interesting material on the Internet. The matter of where and when they first appeared seems to be a subject of debate, though all agree the ties in one form or another have been around for quite a while.

It appears that part of the confusion about the ties’ origins stems from the different varieties that have been popular through the years. A few things most agree on are that the ties are worn beneath the shirt collar outside the shirt. The bolo slide may be made of stone, metal, or plastic and can be in different shapes. A thin strip of leather or other fabric which is frequently braided has tips on both ends to allow it be strung through the slide.


Some people have dated the bolo ties back to the 1860’s. Others date its beginning to the 1900’s. One report is that the tie was created by Silversmith Victor Cedarstaff. It is said he slipped his hatband around his neck to keep from losing it while riding his horse on a windy day. Someone commented that he was wearing a nice tie which inspired him to create the bolo tie.

Bolo ties are especially popular in western states. Arizona named the bolo tie the official state neckwear in 1971. In 2007, both New Mexico and Texas named it their official state tie. (Who knew states had official ties?)

One of the most interesting bits of pop culture concerning the bolo was that John Travolta wore one in Urban Cowboy. I do think I remember that.

On another note I want to remind you that Trumped Up Charges, book 1 in the Big D Dads – The Daltons series will be available on June 1.


Ex Marine Adam Dalton once dreamed of a life with Hadley O’Sullivan, but war and a near-fatal injury cost him dearly. Now he returns to Dallas to discover the unthinkable—Hadley is the prime suspect in the disappearance of their twin baby girls…the daughters he never knew he had.

Beyond Hadley’s terror of having her children kidnapped is the shock of seeing Adam. Yes, she had kept him from his daughters, but now, when he insists they work together as a united front, she knows she is still in love with him. Despite their past, finding their children is their only hope of finally becoming a family—if time doesn’t run out first.

You can read an excerpt at


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10 thoughts on “”

  1. Hmmm. Trying to remember the last time I saw a man wearing a bolo tie here in Utah, Joanna. Maybe I need to hang out at the rodeo. Love the look on a man.

    Your book sounds like a gripping story. And that’s a cover to melt hearts. Thanks for a great blog to start the week.

  2. Trumped Up Charges sounds great, Joanna.
    An old man stopped in at our house just two days ago wearing a bolo tie.
    We told him he looked nice, all dressed up with a tie and he said, “I just put it on to keep my collar closed, it likes to droop open too far.”

    His shirt was just a regular button up the front shirt so I wasn’t sure exactly what it was doing without the tie, but it struck me that he was USING the bolo tie. Not wearing it for looks but wearing it for utility.

    It’s funny to read your article about bolo ties so soon after talking about one.

  3. Ah, Mary, that old gentleman might have brushed it off when you mentioned it, but dollars to donuts he puffed up like a banty rooster inside when you told him how nice he looked. 🙂

    Another thing about bolo ties that I thought about while reading this. Seems like they would be a much more practical and durable choice over cloth ties, especially for the itinerant cowboy. I can see the men of the time gravitating to them because of that reason. And, they just look manly to boot!

  4. Joanna, what an interesting blog. I had no idea that Texas had an “official tie”! I was born and raised here, so this proves a person learns something new every day. Great subject and thanks for sharing. Hugs, Phyliss

  5. I think maybe they started not as a fashion choice but as simple necessity. A way to keep your collar closed. Maybe cowboys at a…branding? wanted their collars a bit tight to keep the dirt from going down their necks.
    Maybe they helped shed the rain if a cowboy wore an oilcloth coat but the neck was letting in cold rain and wind.
    So take one of his piggin’ strings or maybe the long fringe on his buckskin coat and tie it around his neck for protection and comfort.

  6. Thanks for the great comments. I agree we see them far too seldom these days. My grandson wore one and giant belt buckle when he played the role of Curly in Oklahoma in a school play a few years back. I loved the western flair it gave him. Wish they’d make a comeback, at least here in Texas, though I do see them occasionally, usually on older men.

  7. Joanna, funny you should write about bolo ties. My husband recently bought one at the Melody Ranch cowboy festival. The tie has a silver steer head clasp. I’ll tell him he’s now official in Texas and New Mexico.

    Your new book sounds intriguing. Sounds like the perfect summer read!

  8. Thanks for the short lesson on bolo ties. I enjoyed seeing the wide variety of slides when we lived in Colorado. We live back East now and don’t see them often. My husband has a couple and does wear them occasionally.

    Read the excerpt for TRUMPED UP CHARGES. Sounds like it will be another good one. I look forward to reading it.

  9. I have Bolo ties that belonged to my husband. He always wore these with his western suits. And, of course, his Stetson. Boy, was he sharp! Sure miss him.
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

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