Exploring the "Texas Legacy" Sculpture and More at the Astrodome

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

"Texas Legacy" Sculpture at the Astrodome in Houston

"Texas Legacy" Sculpture at the Astrodome in Houston

Texas Legacy Sculpture at the Astrodome

Texas Legacy is the title of a beautiful Western sculpture but also seems an appropriate title for the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. This iconic structure was the very first domed indoor sports stadium in all of the United States. It was the state of the art when it opened in 1965 and was considered the “8th Wonder of the World.”

Since that time, many other more massive stadiums have been built, including the NRG Stadium right next to the grand old dame (Astrodome), which closed to the public in 2008. The NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston both have retractable roofs and can seat many more people for events.

The Astrodome has fallen into disrepair over the years, but it has been deemed worthy of rescue. As of January 2014, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has also been named a State Antiquities Landmark similar to the Alamo in San Antonio. While plans are still being determined as to how best to use this facility, at least it will be protected from demolition.

Walking the Grounds After Auto Show

My husband and I attended the Houston Auto Show at NRG Center on January 25th of 2018. NRG Center used to be called the Astro Hall. After viewing the many cars and other vehicles, I wanted to take some photos of the beautiful sculptures around the Astrodome.

The sculptures are in an area called Carruth Plaza located between the Astrodome and the NRG Stadium. Allen H. “Buddy” Carruth was a former chairman of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Other Sculptures Around the Astrodome

Most of the bronze sculptures, in addition to the Texas Legacy sculpture, have a Western flair. They relate to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is the largest of such rodeos and livestock shows in the entire world.

Landscaping Around the Sculptures

All of these sculptures are in one general area, and a crushed granite path leads from one to another. The plantings and water features around some of the sculptures add even more to the beautiful setting. Some of the plants were not quite as lush and pretty due to some recent freezing weather in Houston, but they will recover, or new ones will take their place if needed.

Wild and Free Sculpture

Edd Hayes, the sculptor, created this beautiful herd of horses titled Wild and Free. It was chosen by the Western Art Committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to commemorate its 60th Anniversary in 1992. Contributors were listed as follows:

  • Garry L. Plotkin
  • Randall’s / Bob & Kay Onstead
  • John & Robin Milutin
  • Leroy & Susan Littlefield
  • Tom & Mimi Dompier
  • Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dimaria
  • I.W. & Dianne Marks
  • I.W. Marks Jewelers, Inc.
  • Ken & Angie Caldwell
  • Greg & Mark Davis in Memory of Gwen Davis
  • In Memory of O.C. & Lucy Motley

Some Stats

  • The Fat Stock Show was renamed the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1961.
  • 1966 was the first year that it was held at the Astrodome.
  • From 1938 to 1965, the Sam Houston Coliseum was the setting for this annual event.

Cooks were certainly valued when it came to ranching, let alone when it came to the settlement of the west. The sculpture labeled The Cookie celebrates just such a person.

YES Sculpture

The sculptor Lawrence M. Ludtke depicted a woman happily looking at her prize-winning ribbon after competing in the Houston Rodeo.

Team Ropers

Learning lassoing and roping skills are essential to ranchers. The sculpture below depicts a young boy who was probably practicing those skills when he was interrupted by his playful dog.

Depicting Vivian L. Smith

Major league baseball took place in the Astrodome as well as football and other activities. In the sculpture pictured below, Vivian L. Smith was a devoted fan of the Houston Astros. She would have been so pleased to know that her team won the World Series in 2017! The Astros now play their home games in Minute Maid Park.

Carruth Plaza at Astrodome and NRG Stadium

Carruth Plaza at Astrodome and NRG Stadium

Carruth Plaza

A tall monolith marks the center of Carruth Plaza. Most of these sculptures, like the Texas Legacy sculpture and others are nearby.

Sculpture by NRG Stadium next to the Astrodome

Sculpture by NRG Stadium next to the Astrodome

If you think bull riding' isn't intense, come sit on his back and try on my saddle. This aint for tenderfoots.

— Clancy Jean Driscoll

Raging Bull Sculpture

Crossing the street between the Astrodome and NRG Stadium was one more sculpture. I could not find a plaque crediting the sculptor. It depicts a bull with flared nostrils in a running pose. Anyone wishing to ride this raging bundle of muscle and fury would have quite a time of it!

"Chief Touch the Clouds"

"Chief Touch the Clouds"

Chief Touch the Clouds

We walked the entire perimeter of the Astrodome to make sure that we did not miss any sculptures. There is one missing, however!

Chief Touch the Clouds was donated by the sculptor David McGary and his wife to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998. The 20,000-pound sculpture, which stood 18 feet high, was too large to be moved to the Carruth Plaza and needed some restoration.

The HLS&R sold it to the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, where it now resides among many other sculptures in that loving art community. The statue depicts the Minneconjou Teton Lakota Chief, who was said to be the cousin of Chief Crazy Horse.

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.

— Winston Churchill


I hope you enjoyed this look at the bronze sculptures near our iconic Astrodome. The Astrodome address is 8400 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas 77054.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2020:

Hi Sarah,

So far, at least the Astrodome has been saved from demolition. It will be fascinating to see what is eventually done with it. The sculptures around that area do celebrate our western heritage. Thanks for your comment.

Sarah on September 15, 2020:

Great tribute to the Western Heritage culture of Texas. Hope they soon find a way to preserve the Astrodome.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Are you referring to the Vivian L. Smith sculpture? As a devoted fan of the Houston Astros, it probably depicts her as she became well-known to them. I did not know her personally, but she looks like a lovely person. Perhaps her family chose that image to memorialize?

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 27, 2020:

How lovely. These statues have such personality and flair. I would hope if they ever did a statue of me they’d make it of the younger me or take some creative license with it. A statue is forever. My goodness.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2020:

Greetings Prateek,

Thanks for letting me know you appreciated the images and information about these western sculptures.

Prateek Jain from Madhya Pradesh, India on April 06, 2020:

Wonderful article mam, you shared some really valuable information with us. The images are amazing. Really appreciate your work.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Thanks, Ann. I did receive your earlier comment. I have never been to New Zealand or Australia but would enjoy doing so. Wish I was younger! Ha!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Diana,

It is an amazing collection of excellent sculptures all in one place. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Liz,

Many people dubbed the Astrodome as the "8th Wonder of the World." It was amazing for its time!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

So glad you liked these photos of the sculptures near the Astrodome.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Ann,

New Brighton sounds like a fun place to visit where people can help themselves to rocks and sculpt them, and then keep them. Like you, we enjoy sculptures and seeing the many iterations of them.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 06, 2020:

I thought I'd left a comment to this piece but maybe I didn't press 'post'!

I love sculptures, especially those out in the open for all to see. There are many in New Zealand and Australia, some very quirky, and they all reflect stories and people like these do.

You are certainly making the most of extra time with all your writing, Peggy. Well done!


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

We do have the largest rodeo in the world. It had been open for a few weeks this year when they shut it down due to the Covid-19 virus. They still had enough money in their coffers to give out the scholarships to students anyway.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on April 05, 2020:

Love the sculptures especially the oxen and the Chief. Amazing art works, all in one place.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 05, 2020:

These sculptures look amazing. Your article does them justice. I didn't realise that the astrodome was the first ot its kind 55 years ago.

manatita44 from london on April 05, 2020:

Reminded me of the Coliseum, Barcelona (Raging Bull) and Native Americans. Some very powerful sculptures!

Ann Carr from SW England on April 05, 2020:

I love sculptures, especially those out in the open for all to see.

I saw many in New Zealand and Australia, most of which were great fun, all of which were wonderful. I wrote a poetry hub about them after visiting a couple of years back. There is a place called New Brighton near Christchurch which has a verge where people can sculpt the rocks and take along anything of their own to work on. It's brilliant!

You've been writing furiously lately, Peggy, and they're all great for local tourism - you should get commission from the local department!

I like your writing style and your enthusiasm shines through.


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2020:

The sculptures are really nice look so appropriate for TX. It is nice the Astodome is declared a historic site. Everything there should be kept and cared for as needed. I have never been to a rodeo and I didn't know the largest one enywhere was in Houston. There are so many interesting areas in Houston,

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