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As It Was: Klamath Stockmen Deal with Challenging Conditions

Klamath Falls businessman Rufus Moore submitted a report to the Portland Oregonian newspaper in February 1899 about the challenging conditions facing livestock producers in the Klamath Basin.  Moore said their primary concern was ensuring enough hay during severe or prolonged winter conditions.

Klamath stock growers also faced limited opportunities for selling their animals.  Eastern markets were too far away, leaving most stockmen with little choice other than driving their herds across the state line to rail heads in Siskiyou County for shipment to feedlots farther south in California.  All residents of the Klamath Basin faced difficult travel conditions. 

Those headed to Portland had to take a 55-mile stagecoach ride to Ager in Siskiyou County to catch a northbound passenger train, a two-day trip under ideal conditions. Mudholes, washouts and drifting snow made the trip more difficult. 

Finally, there was always the risk of almost daily stagecoach robberies – so common that Wells Fargo suspended service between Ager and Klamath Falls, forcing travelers to fend for themselves while carrying cash or valuables.

Sources: "Klamath Stock Sleek." Oregonian, 3 Mar. 1899 [Portland, Ore.], p. 10. genealogybank.com. Accessed 21 Feb. 2019.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.