The movers and shakers
in Silicon Valley may have never heard of Virl Norton of Almaden
Valley CA, but anyone who owns, trades, rides or races horses in
North America has surely come across his name or been influenced
by his contributions to equestrian sports. Virl was one of the last
authentic old world horsemen of the west and winner of several endurance
races including the Great American Horse Race of 1976.
A steeplejack by trade, Virl raised, trained and traded horses and
mules and participated in endurance, ride-and-tie, chariot races
and triathlons. He was a cofounder of the California Gymkhana Association
and the Quicksilver Endurance Riders as well as a longtime member
of the Santa Clara County Horsemen's Association. Known as the Mule
Man, Virl also rebuilt antique carriages, trained zebras, blazed
trails in Quicksilver County Park, and often offered his time to
help guide the local youth. His dedication to horsemanship continued
until his passing in 1995.
I met Virl when I was a youngster growing up in Almaden. Looking
for summer work, I approached Virl repeatedly until he took me in
to help around his ranch. Eventually, he would trust me to work
several of his horses on a regular basis and we developed a friendship
that lasted for years.
Recently, in a frustrated attempt to find information on the web
regarding his life, I realized that there was very little available
and took it upon myself to change that. I'm sure that there are
people far better qualified to speak of Virl than I, but as no one
has to date, I decided to take on the pleasant chore of compiling
some data of this gentle westerner and present it to interested
readers on the web. This website is an unofficial resource and tribute
site for one of my early heroes.
You can help. Virl had many friends and associates in California
and I call to you to help me build a small library of facts, stories
and photos. If you knew or knew of Virl Norton, please share your
knowledge by adding an article
to the stories page
. Those with photos
to share may submit them
in the album. Thanks in advance to all for your contributions.