The 2017 Express Ranch “Big Event”

Welcome back. After doing some research on the internet, from what I could tell the cow sale held this past weekend outside of the town of Yukon, Oklahoma was possibly the richest in the country and maybe even the world, and I was there along with cowboys from around the globe. I’ve covered this sale in the past but this year was special as I had the opportunity to ride in the famous Express Ranch stage coach. The coach is drawn by a team of six rare black Clydesdales who just four weeks ago won the Calvary Stampede championship in their class. The horses and the beautiful stage coach they pull won every division of competition which is something that has never been done before. Then two weeks ago they won the National Championship in the U.S. Friends these horses outdid them all and I got the chance to be pulled around by them, it was quite a deal!

I also got the opportunity to hang out with country music giant Neal McCoy who performed for guests following the first day of the sale. McCoy’s gold and platinum albums, along with his 15 USO tours, have made him a much loved figure in the country music industry and since I couldn’t afford any cows the stage coach ride and meeting Neal were definitely highlights of the event for me.

The actual “Big Event” auction as they call it took place on Saturday and friends these aren’t your average cows. A quarter million dollar cow wasn’t unusual; yes that’s two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for one cow. With over seven hundred head, you can see why this sale brought in the big boys in the Angus cow industry and the biggest rancher in the bunch doesn’t live in Canada or Europe but right here in Oklahoma. I recently wrote a story about this man who is about to be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in November and whose giving spirit has impacted thousands of lives. While at the sale I found another example of his generosity and commitment to helping others which you readers in the cattle industry probably know about. For the continuing education of America’s youth he has quietly donated four and a quarter million dollars for junior youth scholarship programs and I can also tell you from personal experience with the man that he has given more show calves away to youth than many ranchers own. The love of God, country, family, his friends and youth characterize this man whose name of course is Bob Funk and if you would like to read my past columns about him copies are available at the E/E office.

Till next week from one of the most spectacular rock formations in the North America, I’ll see ya down the road………

Notable People in Oklahoma’s History

Welcome back. When reading a book I often find something that I think you, my readers, would find interesting and in my library as you long time readers probably could have guessed are shelves filled with the life stories of men like Jack Drummond a guy from Oklahoma.

Born in Osage County in 1896 when Oklahoma was part of Indian Territory, he grew up in Hominy and went on to get his college education starting at what was then Oklahoma A&M and going on to the University of Illinois. During World War I Drummond enlisted and became an officer in a three hundred-man Calvary unity. In 1920 after the war he came back to Oklahoma and bought his first ranch. He was on his way to fulfilling the dream many say he had of becoming the largest landowner in Osage County, the largest county in Oklahoma. In a matter of ten years Drummond’s first two-hundred-acre ranch had grown to almost one hundred thousand acres adding some land in Texas along the way as well. By the late 1940s Drummond had expanded his business interests to include oil and gas leases, feed lots and sales barns just to name a few. Ranching from the Front Seat of a Buick: The Life of Oklahoman A.A. Jack Drummond is a great story and its available at most Oklahoma libraries.

Another biography of local interest concerns a man born in 1899 in the small Kansas town of Horton where his dad was a train engineer. This boy, who earned the nickname “Boots” because from the age of three he always wore a pair, would go on to become the head of one of the largest oil companies in the world. He became friends with presidents and kings and queens around the world but he never forgot his roots and that man’s name of course was Kenneth “Boots” Adams. The book about his life has the same name.

Frank Eaton or “Pistol Pete” as he was called was a cowboy, scout, Indian fighter and deputy United States Marshall and his life story, simply entitled “Pistol Pete”, is another library book that’s worth your time.

I recently got a rare book which tells the story of John Wayne’s life aboard his famous boat, The Wild Goose. If you don’t know about Wayne’s boat, it was a converted 136-foot U.S. Navy mine sweeper. This is where Wayne called home during the last sixteen years of his life and the book was written by the boat’s Captain and Wayne’s close friend Bert Marshall. It gives the reader an insider’s look at the life of this beloved star and his many famous friends. On Board with the Duke is hard to find but it’s a must read for Wayne fans.

One friend of Wayne’s who appeared in many of his movies is Woody Strode. Strode was a black man who along with Jackie Robinson broke many of the color barriers in their respective careers and paved the way for others who came after them. Strode’s autobiography is Goal Dust and it is a fascinating story.

My book shelves are full of books like these but luckily you don’t have to buy them all like I did. Just go down to your local library and you will find most of them. Happy reading and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….

Art and Aliens in New Mexico

A few strange tales from my recent trip…..

Welcome back. The stone carvings here in the Piedra Lumbre basin in northwestern New Mexico weren’t carved by man but by nature, through thousands of years of exposure to wind, snow, rain and brutal sun. Dinosaurs lived here and thousands of them died here too making this hidden valley called Yeso Canyon home to one of the largest dinosaur discoveries in the world.

In the 1800s another bunch of animals known as the Archuleta brothers would invade the canyon. They were a ruthless gang of cattle rustlers who killed anyone who got close to the secret canyon they had found. Their outlaw ways lasted a dozen years before the brothers met their maker when one brother was shot and the citizens of Abiqui hung the other. It was then that a woman and child showed up who had been held captive by the brothers. Maybe not in their right minds, the pair told their rescuers to beware of six foot long human like beasts that were covered in red hair which the woman called earth babies. They were also quoted as saying that an old witch who had transformed herself into a cow with wings also flew through the canyon.
By 1915 some semblance of law and order had come to the area when a wealthy easterner named Carol Stanley acquired the deed to the canyon with hopes of turning it into a dude ranch for other easterners and the name Ghost Ranch began surfacing. At night guests were terrified by weird screams and as rumors spread the stories about the ranch grew bigger.

A few years later Carol Stanley and another wealthy easterner, Arthur Newton Pack became partners in the property and the ranch really developed. It had it all, a natural stream, good dirt and those multicolored mountains that surround this hidden paradise. Stanley and Pack knew that if they built a few cabins people would come and they did. From movie stars to Presidents, folks came from all over the world.
In the 1920s Arthur Pack bought the whole canyon and with new drive and more money he expanded the ranch. Big name people like the Johnson brothers of the Johnson & Johnson Company built small bungalow style homes on the property and brought their families to stay at Ghost Ranch for months. Georgia O’Keefe visited for the first time in 1935 and eventually moved permanently from New York to the ranch.

World War II brought a different kind of fame to Ghost Ranch and that fame had a name. It was called the Manhattan project and with it came jobs for everyone in the area. The story of the “secret city” of Los Alamos built by New Mexican labor has become the most profound chapter in American history. Many of the scientists working on the atomic bomb in the secret city during 1942 visited Ghost Ranch which is less than 30 miles away as the crow flies. When World War II ended, their involvement with the ranch brought new prominence to this little known area but this is a story that will have to wait for another time.

Now open to the public, you can visit Ghost Ranch and the secret city of Los Alamos yourself. This is a part of our history we should never forget.
Till next week when I’ll be spending time with 5,000 boy scouts outside Cimarron, New Mexico, I’ll see ya down the road.