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Oregon Pioneer Cattle Barons

Much as men rushed to the California gold fields, a small group of proud and visionary cattlemen heard of the boundless open and free range land of Central and Southeastern Oregon in the mid-1800s and brought their herds there. Sometimes called “Cattle Kings,” or “Cattle Barons,” they ruled with painstaking vigor, occasional cruelty, and tenacity the untitled land. Thousands of their cattle and horses grazed on the boundless prairies. Four men who built cattle empires were John Devine, Peter French, Bill Hanley, and Henry Miller. One of these four barons eventually owned it all.

Smaller ranchers were tolerated but bun-carrying vaqueros discouraged intruders, particularly sheep men and homesteaders. Their empires lasted until the mid-1900s, but during their time they made the era legendary in the history of the region.

--Dorys Crow Grover

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