Wild Horse Round-Up
Wednesday May 25, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
One of the more dramatic images of the old west, at least as it was depicted in Hollywood movies, was a heard of wild horses-hooves thundering, nostrils flaring-running free across the plain.
By 1936 this western icon had actually become a nuisance to farmers and ranchers in the Applegate Valley near the Oregon-California boarder. Seventy-five to one hundred abandoned, starved, and neglected horses roamed the area. They were a heard of tough, scraggily strays and runaways that had been multiplying since the 1910s.
Forest Service Ranger Lee Port was responsible for "rounding the outlaws up." An announcement in the local paper brought a crowd of fifteen hundred spectators. Horsemen herded the steeds to a fence designed to funnel the horses into a temporary corral. When they arrived, the cheering audience spooked and scattered the skitterish animals. Several attempts produced the same results. Only six horses were caught that day.
At some later, unpublicized date, Lee Port must have met with success, as the horses are now gone from the area.
Wild horse roundups from public lands continue, overseen now by the BLM. Legislation enacted in 2004, negating some legal protections provided to wild horses in 1971, has fueled an existing controversy surrounding management of these "living symbols of the historic west."
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org