This Arizona museum is home to about 300 bola ties

By Amber Victoria Singer
Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - 2:35pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 9, 2023 - 8:56am

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Desert Caballeros Western Museum
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Bola ties have been Arizona’s official state neckwear since 1971.

They have a distinctly Western feel, so it makes sense that the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg has such a large collection — about 300 — of them. 

The legend goes that in the 1940s or 1950s, a man named Vic Cedarstaff put his hat band around his neck because he didn’t want to lose it on a trail ride. This inspired him to design and patent the classic bola tie slide. He based the name off of a bola rope, which has a similar shape. 

Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ

One of Arizona’s biggest bola tie — also sometimes called the bolo tie — proponents was Bill Close, an anchor on Cool TV for 28 years. He wore one on air every night, and the museum has his collection of over 200 bola ties. 

Many of the museum’s bola ties, along with trophies from bola tie competitions and boxes of archives for the Arizona Bola Tie Society, live in the curatorial offices in the basement. Employees have to wear gloves while handling the ties so oils from their hands don’t damage them. The ties on display get rotated out for the ones downstairs every few months.

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