Cattle drive takes a week
Seth Dixon owned the Cold Springs Ranch on the South Fork of Crooked River in 1936. He and his brothers also had a large ranch at the old Fort Klamath site north of Klamath Falls.
Dixon was feeding his cattle herd at the Cold Springs Ranch, but as feed began to diminish, he decided to ship his cattle to the Fort Klamath Ranch for spring feeding. He hired Rankin Crow as his trail foreman.
Crow was a prominent wrangler and stockman from Harney County. Approximately 2,150 head of 2- and 3-year-old steers were to be herded to the railyards at Bend for shipment to Fort Klamath.
Only six cowboys were hired to move the cattle. A trail cook was hired that followed the herd. Instead of an oldtime horse-drawn wagon, the cook utilized an old dilapidated truck.
The herd was gathered up and the cattle drive began in early February. About 100 steers were cut out and used as leaders for the rest of the herd. The cattle were led from the front and not the rear.
The ground was covered with snow. It was about a seven-day trek with the cattle to Bend for shipment. Water was scarce and the cattle mostly had to get by with licking snow.
Feed was sparse at that time of year, so the cattle leaned out on the trek. The herd was kept on the move most of the day and held in line. The wranglers had to sleep in damp beds, as it snowed heavily shortly after leaving Cold Springs and the bedding never dried out.
When they were two days from Bend, they began to be approached by several people from Bend coming out to see the herd and take pictures. Several newspapers had reporters there taking pictures and taking notes.
Once they arrived at Bend, extra police were needed to keep the people back, so they could get the cattle to the stockyards. Just as they got the lead cattle to the corrals, a steam engine "let off steam." The result was that the steers became scared and took off and ran for about a half-mile before the wranglers could get them turned back to the corrals.
It took over a day to load all of the cattle on to cattle cars. The cattle were shipped to a siding at Henley and then later moved to the Fort Klamath Ranch. It took a whole day to unload all of the cattle.
After unloading the cattle, Seth Dixon took the trail crew to a fancy restaurant in Klamath Falls. They arrived wearing the same clothes and rough hygiene that they had after seven days on the trail.
They described themselves as "pretty splattered and our odor was pretty rank." The restaurant was not particularly happy, but they were all served. Thus ended what is believed to be the last major cattle drive of the region.
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