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Silent films at next History Pub

A young woman inherits a cattle ranch in one of the films.The Jefferson County Historical Society will present its third “History Pub” at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12, at Great Earth Natural Foods, 46 S.W. D St., in downtown Madras.

The program features three short, funny, silent films depicting Western ranching and railroading before World War I. The presenter will be Jerry Ramsey, president of the historical society. The event is free and everyone interested in local history and old films is invited to attend.

Ramsey noted that the films date from around the year 1914, when Jefferson County was created. ”We thought that with the county’s centennial year approaching, it would be timely fun to look at some early movies that show cattle ranching and railroads as they were around here, back then,” he said.

One of the films, “Life on the Circle Ranch” (1912) is probably the earliest documentary film on cattle-ranching, and it follows a typical day’s cowboy routines — with some early “Hollywood” additions.

“The Girl Ranchers” (1913) dramatizes what happens when a young New York woman learns that she has inherited a California cattle ranch from her uncle.

She decides, instead of selling it, that she and her girlfriends will go out and try to run the ranch. The third movie, “Deschutes Driftwood,” follows the misadventures of an elderly hobo who jumps on a train at Wishram on the Columbia River, thinking it is heading for Portland, but instead finds himself on an Oregon Trunk freight train heading up the Deschutes River Canyon for Madras, where he is finally thrown off the train.

The film is part slapstick comedy, part travelogue of the railroad into Central Oregon just as it was opening up.

“The aim of our History Pubs is to offer programs on local history in an informal, convivial setting, with food and microbrew refreshments available from our hosts at Great Earth,” Ramsey noted.



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