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This is Page 55.

See some past weeks' photos below.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.


We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.


Send your photo.

 Email us for information about sending it to us.



If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections— many with photos— contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.

August 10, 2009


We welcome your photos.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.

previous  photos

index of all photos

California silversmith Karen Ross and her husband Jim are known for their impressive cowboy poetry performances at events such as the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, the Salinas California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Visalia Fall Roundup, Scofield's Cowboy Campfire, and many others.

Karen shared the following story and photo:

This is Ira Moore, when he was a very young buckaroo in Blitzen, Oregon. The town of Blitzen (southeastern Oregon) was where a lot of Jim's family lived many years ago. Roaring Springs Ranch owns it now. It's near the Steens, good country.

Ira was Jim's uncle; when Jim was about 17, he left home and went to work with Ira for outfits in eastern Oregon. Ira was quite a hand, and a real character by all accounts. Luis Ortega gives him credit for a lot of the pictures in California Hackamore.

This is a funny story about Ira: At the JJ Ranch in Oregon, Ira was living in the bunkhouse, and he was kinda sweet on the cook, Kate. Ira was a wee small man, and Kate was a big stout girl. Ira would slip over to the cookshack to court her, until the snowfall, when his tracks could be seen by the other men. So, Kate started hauling him piggyback to an from the cookshack, so only her tracks led to her door. They later married and lived around Lakeview, Oregon. He passed away quite some time ago, so I never got to meet him.

Master rawhide craftsman Luis Ortega (1897-1995) was named a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow in 1986, and you can read more about him at the NEA site here.  There's additional information at web sites for recent museum exhibits about Luis Ortega, including the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the Autry National Center.

Read a story about Roaring Springs Ranch from Range magazine's Summer, 1999 issue here.

Karen and Jim Ross live in Jamestown, California

photos by Jack Hummel from the 17th Annual Visalia  Fall Roundup, 2007


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.

August 3, 2009


Writer, poet, and gathering organizer Smoke Wade was raised on a ranch in the Hells Canyon region of the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon border. He shares another piece of the history of his family's ranch life:

The Crossing

This story could never have been written if Sylvia Tippett had not died on May 23, 1915 at the age of twenty. Because of her death, the story can now be told—ninety-four years later.

About 1914, my grandfather, J.H. Jidge Tippett, began piecing together a ranching system that I would later come to know as "the home ranch." The ranch system eventually grew in size to include five winter ranches, three summer ranches and a couple of cow camps on U.S Forest Service grazing allotments. The acres of leased and deeded property were perhaps more than one hundred thousand acres.

Known as the Hashknife Ranch, the ranch system was surrounded by rivers on three sides. The Snake River, also known as Hells Canyon, bordered the eastern portion of the ranch. To the north was the Grande Ronde river and the western boundary was Joseph Creek. Though called a creek, Joseph Creek would be considered a small river by any definition.

The rivers isolated the ranching system from the rest of the world. For the first twenty years, Jidge did not have the luxury of a bridge or ferry to cross the rivers. During the spring and early summer months, the high country snow melt turned the rivers into raging torrents, and always at a time when cattle needed to be moved to late spring or summer pasture. The cattle, and the cowboys, were forced to swim the raging currents as the herd was moved to different pastures and on to market.

(courtesy of family friend, Mike Edgmand) Local cowboys and family members at the Grande Ronde Crossing during high water—circa 1940.

(courtesy of family friend, Mike Edgmand) Moving the cows into the swollen stream on the Grande Ronde—circa 1940.

(courtesy of family friend, Mike Edgmand) The herd reaches mid-stream at the crossing (Circa 1940)

It was during the high water of May 1915, the horse of my grandfather’s young bride and first wife, Sylvia,  went down while crossing Joseph creek with the cattle. Sylvia Steen Tippett drowned in the flood waters that spring and little is known of her previous life. Within two years, my grandfather married a young schoolteacher, Jessie Wilson, and she became my grandmother.

The only road to town from the Joseph Creek home ranch, at that time, was an improved travois trail that led to Enterprise, Oregon, some seventy miles to the south. On the northeast corner of the ranch was the old town of Rogersburg that sat along the banks for the Snake River. Steamboats and freight boats brought provisions, mail and passengers from Lewiston, Idaho, thirty miles to the north. At that time, Rogersburg contained a post office, mercantile store, a steamboat warehouse, and a few houses. When prohibition came along, several moonshiners opened up business as well.

In 1936, a road was built along the Washington side of the Snake River from Lewiston to Rogersburg, and a ferry was put in. Shortly after, in the early 1940s, a bridge was built across the Grande Ronde river three miles up stream from Rogersburg, and our family ranching system became connected by automobile to the outside world. Soon after, the economy of Rogersburg dried up and it fell into ghost town status.

The Rogersburg ferry in the late 1930's. The large building with a square black window on the second floor was the Grande Ronde Lumber & Mercantile store. It was also the post office. We used the post office as a storage building until the 1970's.The house next to it was torn down by my father to use to make an addition to the Joseph creek ranch house. In the fore ground a windmill and pump house can be seen. The windmill pumped water from the river to a large cistern behind the post office.

My father began improving one of the large houses at Rogersburg, and during the harsh winter of 1948-49, we moved there from the Joseph Creek home ranch. It was to be my home for many years. During that winter, the Grande Ronde river froze over, and the ice became very thick—much like a glacier. During a January thaw, the ice began to move and then it jammed in a portion of the river known as the narrows—some two miles upstream from our bridge. When the ice jam released and began to move, the ice lifted our bridge from its foundations and scattered portions of the bridge along three miles of the river. Once again, we were isolated from the outside world.

The winter of 1948-49. The river froze over and created huge ice jams in narrow portions of the river.

After the ice jam began to move, it pushed ice and drift wood debris across our road. The river can be seen to the far left.

During January of 1949, the ice jam broke loose and eventually removed this bridge and scattered it for several miles downstream. The loss of the bridge severed our link with town.

Soon, the county road department installed a ferry. Before the ferry was installed, they installed a cable car across the river. We had automobiles and trucks on both sides of the river, and we would use the small cable car to cross the river—sometimes in the black of night. 

Shortly after the loss of the bridge, the county road department put up this cable car for the isolated ranchers to cross the river. For several months, this was our means of crossing. We were able to bring in all of our supplies via the cable car. I am the small boy with the pom-pom on top of my hat. My brother is the taller boy with an aviator cap on.

In about a year, the county had replaced the bridge, and sometime thereafter, a new bridge was installed across Joseph Creek as well, and our days of crossing the rivers were greatly changed. Since then, cattle and horses could use the bridges to be moved from one pasture to another.

Perhaps the last unusual crossing of the river came in the late 1970s, when my father moved eighty-five steer calves from Rogersburg to some newly acquired grazing land on the Idaho side of the Snake River. The crossing was by means of a sixteen-foot aluminum boat with an outboard motor. He built a plywood box in the boat and then he backed the pickup truck loaded with steers to the water's edge, and forced a steer to jump into the boat. Upstream, he removed one side of the plywood box, and the steer was forced to jump over the side of the boat into the water and then wade to shore. When roundup time came, he drove the steers to a trailhead, high in the mountains on the Idaho side, where they could be loaded and trucked back to market.

 My father navigates his 16-foot aluminum boat behind his pickup truck at the Heller Bar boat landing by Rogersburg, Washington (late 1970s)

Dad gets the plywood box ready for loading a steer.

One steer is goaded into jumping from the pickup into the back of the boat.

Dad and his boat head up the Snake River for a three mile journey to the Idaho side where he has acquired some grazing property. This was the last known unique crossing of cattle on the Snake River. My father moved 85 steers in the fashion, one at-a-time, with the 85 round trips totaling 510 miles. The "new" town of Rogersburg can be seen in the background. The old home ranch now is a sub-division of privately owned rural homes and cabins, thirty miles from the nearest town..

The reason for the crossing using the boat was due to the rugged nature of Hells Canyon. The canyon face reached several thousand feet above the river shore. The trailhead was at the top. He wanted the cattle to graze the lower reaches of the side canyons, and it would have required a large crew of cow punchers to move the cattle down the mountain slopes to the river’s edge. In this fashion, and by traveling 510 river miles, he was able to make the cattle crossing without help.

In these days, we enjoy the benefits of bridges, and an occasional ferry, without giving much thought to these comforts. Sixty years later, I can still recall the sound of the ice jam moving down river on that January night as it carried our bridge with it. I remember the fear of riding across the river in the cable car during the dark of night, with freezing water splashing in the bottom of the heavily loaded car as the cable sagged while over the middle of the river.

The Snake River at the confluence of the Grande Ronde River at Rogersburg. This part of the river is known as the entrance to Hells Canyon. The rugged mountains in the background is the grazing land my father moved cattle to by boat. For several years, dad built vacation cabins along a part of the Idaho shoreline he sub-divided. In 1976, the United States Congress created the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area that brought an end to sub-divisions and cattle ranching alike.

I still recall how anxious I felt when moving cows across the swollen Joseph Creek crossing in the late spring. Watching a cow cramp up and begin pawing at the air and then go down in the raging water is a memory that hangs on. It must have been a similar scene for Sylvia’s horse. And I still wonder, all these years later about Sylvia—who she was, and what she was like. I owe my life to Sylvia, and her drowning, for without her death, I would not be able to share this story with you.

The funeral card for Sylvia Tippett who drowned May 23, 1915, while crossing cattle on Joseph creek in south eastern Washington. Sylvia was my grandfather's first wife. They had been married less than a year at the time of her death.

[In 2015, Smoke sent this link to a newspaper report of Sylvia Tippett's death, www.wallowa.com/out_of_the_past/20150526/out-of-the-past-sylvia-tippett-drowns-in-creek.]

© 2009, Smoke Wade all rights reserved
Seek permission before reprinting or reposting any part of this article


This story is also included in Western Memories.

Previously, Smoke Wade has shared many interesting stories and photos, including:

 pack string stories and photos...

  photos and recollections about summer haying

  photos and recollections that center around log troughs

photos from the 1952 branding of the Hashknife calves at the Cactus Flat branding corral, posted here

a 1905 photo of the one-room school in Joseph Creek, Washington, which he attended for six years (and which his grandmother, mother, brother, cousins, aunt and uncles attended), more photos, and some history and recollections, which you can see here.

smokevintagesmo.JPG (17853 bytes) a circa 1915 photo of his grandfather, J. H. "Jidge" Tippett, taken at the Tippett home ranch on Joseph Creek in Asotin Country, Washington, and other photos of the area, which you can see here.

  photos of the gold mining ghost town, Bodie, California, which you can see here

and some contemporary photos from Rachel, Nevada, posted here.

photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others at her site here.

Read some of Smoke Wade's poetry here.

You can email Smoke Wade.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.






















Tell us your stories!  If you have a photo to share, email us.

See an index of all past photos here.








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