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Mr. Wilfred Partridge

The interview was conducted by Emilie Strauss in Mr. Partridge's home in Bishop on 10/31/91, and a tape recorder was used. The tape was transcribed, and this is the 3rd edited draft of that transcription. (BTF 2/11/92)

When Mr. Partridge was in grade school and high school, his father was cattle foreman for the Cain Power Company. They ran thousands of head of beef cattle in the Mono Basin during the 1920s and 1930s. His family spent the summers living in a cabin on Parker Creek on the Cain Ranch. Mr. Partridge spent his Mono Basin summers riding, tending cattle, swimming and fishing.


INTERVIEWER (INT): Do you remember Parker Creek going dry below your cabin?

WILFRED PARTRIDGE (WP): I think there were times when the water didn't get clear to Rush Creek.

INT: Well, here's a question I could show you on the map, there's been a disagreement over where Parker Creek used to go where it hit Rush Creek and the creek restorationists put the water back for now so it runs by what's known as the Frank Sam's cabin--the old Indian cabin up near the current 395.

WP: That cabin that that old house that's right by the road?

INT: That's correct.

WP: That wasn't there when I was there.

INT: Was there water in that area?

WP: It seems to me that that cabin is west of where the creek crossed the road. Maybe a quarter of a mile or something like that. Do you know where the old big shop building at the Cain Ranch is?

INT: I think so.

WP: Well it, Parker Creek went right down west of that, maybe 100 yards ... and it crossed the road about 100 yards west of where that shop is. Maybe a little more than a hundred yards ... but not much. There should be an old bridge, an old culvert ... Do you know where there was the old Club House? (large white building still standing on north side of Cain Ranch building cluster) (?--is that right--ES).

INT: Yes.

WP: Then you come to Parker Creek, there's another pretty good sized house right on the old road? I think that's the house that the sheepmen used.

INT: A white house.

WP: Okay, Parker Creek was right across the road, east of that.

INT: Okay.

WP: Between that and where that old shop building is.

It went between that house and the old shop. It crossed the road right there.

INT: A year ago, the restorationists couldn't find the channel! There's so many irrigation canals, they weren't sure which was the proper channel ...

WP: That shouldn't be a problem because the old Parker Creek ran almost north, and all those irrigation ditches went either east or west! And mostly east.

INT: Yeah, well here's the topo map for a different part, where it ran into Rush Creek this topo map is supposedly wrong! And I'll show you, let's see ... this is Rush coming out of Grant ... And-and this is the highway ... this is the current highway, and ...

WP: ... the present highway?

INT: That's correct.

WP: Then this would be the old road.

INT: Okay, yes.

WP: Okay, well this is the Cain Ranch... I'll draw it on the map for you. It went down between those houses. Or between that house and that shop. And if you went up it from where the old road was only maybe a couple of hundred yards, you'll find where... it would be where those old cabins were. Then there was a third one up the crick from that a little bit.

INT: A third cabin?

WP: Yes, a third cabin.

INT: Were there trees alongside the creek?

WP: Willows.

INT: A lot of willows or just ...

WP: Yeah, it was pretty brushy.

INT: Was it ... 25 feet on either side of the creek? Or fifty feet out from the stream's edge?

WP: No, ten feet.

INT: And this sounds like a really detailed question but ... Do you remember what the bottom of the stream looked like? Like was it rocks or gravel or sand or ...?

WP: It was a kind of a gravel.

INT: Even like say, where you fished right by the ... your house, it was gravel?

WP: Pretty gravelly.

INT: Was it little gravels or ...

WP: Yeah, fairly small, but it wasn't ... not like cobblestones you know. Small stuff kind of like sand. Well you could find out, you could dig down on that meadow, that far and you could find out what it was like.

INT: They ... yeah, they've done a little bit of that in someplaces they've lifted up whole sods, and underneath the gravels were still there. But the researchers are trying to learn or guess where the fish used to spawn and where the fine gravels might have been on these streams.

WP: I couldn't say for sure but I would guess ... they went up the stream towards Parker Lake.

INT: Yeah, could be. And do you remember any other kind of wildlife? Like around the Cain Ranch? Was there deer and do you remember what kind of birds were there?

WP: Well there weren't too many deer, there were quite a few sagehen ...Lots of rabbits, of course.

INT: Now the sagehen is really rare in the Mono Basin.

WP: Well there were lots of them up there then ...

INT: Did they dance near there? Did they have a dancing ground? Of course you were just there in the summer so ...

WP: I don't know about that. I would assume they did.

INT: And ... gosh, what about were there lots of wildflowers in the meadows?

WP: Yes, but mostly it was grass. They irrigated the meadows--they had six or eight Indians that did nothing but irrigate. They covered those meadows on horseback and irrigated from horseback.

INT: And did you ever irrigate yourself?

WP: No. The reason I was up there my dad was the cow foreman for the power company and we only took care of the cattle.

WP: I see. And then you brought them down to Bishop in the winter?

WP: Yes. So they spent their summers there, and that's how I happened to be there.

INT: Was that mostly cow and calf operation?

WP: Yeah, they had everything--it was a cow and calf outfit but at that time they didn't sell any cattle until they were two year olds.

INT: And what about ... what do you remember about Walker Creek?

WP: Walker Creek was very much the same ... Walker Creek of course was on the Farrington Ranch but it was very much the same as Parker Creek.

INT: Did you ever fish in Walker?

WP: Not very much. Because we had all the fish we wanted right at home (on Parker Creek).

INT: Did Walker Creek ever go dry?

WP: I think it sometimes dried up below the highway.

The Farringtons also irrigated their meadows, so they diverted the water up high and ran it on the grass.

INT: Now the ... Peter Vorster, the hydrologist was wondering if the irrigation water from Walker would end up in Parker! As opposed to maybe draining back into Walker?

WP: I don't think so.

INT: Okay. Was the meadows mostly wet or did they keep them somewhat dry?

WP: They kept the meadows pretty wet. All summer.

INT: The way it is in that area now there's like these old irrigation ditches (especially on the old Farrington ranch) that have a lot of buckberry on them and you know, it's hard to even tell what was the stream and what was the ditch. Was there vegetation on the irrigation ditches then?

WP: No, not really.

INT: I mean, a bit of willows and stuff like that.

WP: They'd run the water down the ditch for four or five days and then they'd shut it off and put it in another ditch. So the vegetation mostly was right on the creeks.

INT: Have you driven by the Cain Ranch meadows recently?

WP: The main thing I can see from Highway 395 is that those meadows are all dead now. And at that time they were green.

INT: A lot of the meadows now also are saltgrass, like the lower parts by the new highway.

WP: That's because they're so dry.

INT: So the meadows used to be have more wet meadow kinds of vegetation like grasses and rushes?

WP: Yeah, good clover, good, good grass.

INT: Was it wet enough that ... were there pondy areas that would have ducks or jacksnipe?

WP: No.

INT: Were there meadow larks? Do you remember any birds?

WP: Meadow larks? There were some meadow larks ... You know kind of the normal Mono birds. I don't remember so much about the birds, there were black birds, knife-eyes(?) (nighthawks--? ES), some crows.

INT: Did you ever go fishing on Rush Creek?

WP: I didn't fish on Rush Creek. We used to go in those ditches that ran out of Rush Creek ... we'd go swim in them. In "A" Ditch, "B" Ditch and "C" Ditch. They irrigated Plant (plot?) Four I guess they called it--it was a meadow east of the Benton Road. That country was all irrigated and all grass until it passed the "C" Ditch.

WP: I imagine that that meadow from east of Benton Road was the best cow meadow probably in the world!

INT: Why was that? What was it like?

WP: The grass was good strong grass and the bitterbrush and sandgrass was so good that cattle were almost like they were in a feedlot.

WP: This lists South Parker Creek and I would guess an East Parker Creek. I don't remember any distinction!

INT: Between the south and the east?

WP: I only remember one Parker Creek.

INT: So maybe that water was all spread and you never saw it come down a channel.

WP: Yeah. There should be something on this map called the Mono Return Ditch. Now this is kind of hard to tell they got the "B" Ditch listed as pretty far north, but it is hard to tell from this map. But in any event, those ditches were nearly always full of water all summer. And then they took the water out and spread it on those meadows.

INT: But that was not part of your cattle operation.

WP: Yes, it was.

INT: So you had quite a extensive area that you ...

WP: Aside from the Farrington Ranch, we used the whole Mono Basin.

INT: Wow!

WP: Everything ... south of Mono Lake.

INT: Oh wow!

WP: And the cattle went to Mono Lake as well.

INT: Wow! Boy!

WP: And then all that we also had cattle up Lee Vining Creek and on the west side of the lake at the Filosena Ranch.

INT: Sure! That's still there. The buildings are still there. That's quite a lot of country.

WP: It was big. They ran about 2400 cattle.

INT: So was most of it unfenced?

WP: It was all fenced. That is, the roads were all fenced, you know so the cattle couldn't get on the roads, and there was a fence went pretty much up Parker Creek which divided the Cain Ranch from the Farrington Ranch.

WP: The Farrington Ranch ran sheep and the Power Company had cattle. Then in the fall, after the cattle were through with some of those meadows, well then they rented them to sheep for some afterfeed.

INT: Wow! When did the cattle get rounded up and taken south?

WP: In October.

INT: Did you take them all the way around through Benton and Mono Mills?

WP: No. We came up from this field I was telling you about, then we came out kind of parallel to the highway--do you know where The Punchbowl is?

INT: Yeah.

WP: We drove them right around The Punchbowl and then we crossed the road north of Crestview and went right down that canyon where we crossed the road. There's a pretty steep canyon that goes near the top, and we went right down the bottom of that canyon that runs north and south. And we came out from around The Punchbowl and then right down that canyon and hen off west of where the Crestview Maintenance Station is ... there was a corral out there and that was one of the night stops. Then we came from there on down past the Chance Ranch near Sheriff's substation in Long Valley. Next we crossed Little Round Valley and then went down the Sherwin Hill.

INT: And then you were home!

WP: And then home.

INT: Wow! Sounds like fun.

WP: Work. But it was fun.

INT: Well, to change the you remember any springs around the Cain ranch area?

WP: I don't remember too many springs. I don't remember any springs on the Cain Ranch. I think there was a spring down, there was a spring down on the old Cramasco place.

INT: I've never heard that name. Where is that?

WP: It was right on the lake. The Donderos used it, but it was the Cramasco Ranch.

INT: Yes, I know where that is.

WP: There were a couple of springs on that place.

INT: Pretty big springs? With a lot of flow?

WP: Louie Cramasco raised a little garden and some hay. He had some cattle. And there were a couple pretty good springs there. 

INT: Right. And what was the Mono Lake ... where were the cattle grazed, when they were grazed right on Mono Lake? Was there some meadows or wet area? Cattails?

WP: Mostly that was brush country. The Nay Ranch had a little meadow there and they irrigated that a little bit from Lee Vining Creek. But it didn't amount to much. It was basically a brush range.

INT: Yeah. And there would be brush right to the edge of Mono Lake?

WP: Well of course right at the edge of Mono Lake there there was an area around there that was just sand, nothing grew.

INT: So it tended to be sandy around the edges?

WP: Yeah.

INT: 'Cause now it's mud. In almost all the places!

WP: Well there was some mud ... well mostly you could walk right to the water pretty near anytime.

INT: Were there ever ant Sam had a ranch down there and Sim Lundy.

INT: How many ranches would you guess were down on Rush?

WP: Maybe about a dozen. They weren't ranches, they were just places. Mostly they just had horses. They'd let them run out on the power company's land you know. The Power company was kind of negotiating with the DWP (the city of Los Angeles). And so the City wanted those places cleaned up, so they felt it was better for the power company to do it. My dad was kind of a ... negotiator, we got on well with the Indians, some of those other people didn't.

INT: Sure.

WP: So he negotiated a lot of that and was, he negotiated ... there seems to be a misunderstanding about that whole ... Cramasco place! Donderos claim they own it.

INT: Uh-huh. I've heard there's something ...

WP: But they never did own it. Cramasco owned it and the power company bought it from Cramasco and then they just appropriated it.

INT: Let's see ... Did they knock down the buildings? Did the power company knock down the buildings after it bought those places down on Rush Creek or did the people tend to just move the buildings?

WP: I think that people just carried them away! 'Cause there weren't any buildings that amounted to anything, just little old shacks. You know there was no such a thing as electricity or plumbing or anything and I think that people just carried the buildings away for wood or board or whatever. 'Cause there wasn't anything that amounted to anything.

INT: So when your father negotiated for the ranches, did he know that this land would go to Los Angeles in the end?

WP: I suppose it was too early for him to have known that. I don't know that he was aware of anything pending. If he knew it, he didn't discuss it.

INT: Sure. Did the power company originally want those Rush Creek lands for more grazing?

WP: No. I think that they acquired that property to satisfy the City, so that when they bought it, they bought everything. That's my impression. They wanted to own everything and they didn't want anybody there that was in the way!

INT: To complain if they ... fluctuated the flows and ...

WP: Yeah.

INT: Do you remember Grant? You must remember Grant Lake before it was enlarged?

WP: Oh yeah.

INT: It was just 1935 so really the whole time that you were there it was its (nearly) original size.

WP: Yeah.

INT: What was that like? Did you ever fish there or ... run cattle down there?

WP: I never fished there, but the cattle would go clear to Grant Lake, they'd get feed up there and water in the lake. So we would go there a lot to check on the cattle.

INT: What was it like at the edge? Was it wet meadow? Or grasslands?

WP: There was a little meadow on the southside I think, not very much, maybe none. Then of course the sagebrush was around it, and that's what the cattle used.

INT: And I understand there was some aspens up in the ... kind of the west and south end where Rush Creek came in?

WP: Yeah. There were some trees up there.

INT: Was the lake pretty shallow?

WP: Well it was pretty shallow on the edges but I think it was deep in the middle.

INT: Do you remember if there was a lot of wild iris around the Cain ranch or in the Mono Basin?

WP: There was a little bit but not too much.

INT: Because now there's a lot on some of those meadows.

WP: Well you know that that's because some of those meadows up there were grazed and kind of abused. And of course, you know, bad stuff multiplies and good stuff dies.

INT: Did you move the cattle around a lot? To rotate them from pasture to pasture? Or was there so much forage they could just stay in one area?

WP: We separated them early in the summer and then it depends on how they were using the country. If they were staying too long in one place we'd move them to another place. We did that a lot of that by moving the salt licks around.

INT: Did the power company irrigate other lands beyond Cain Ranch and beyond the-the "A", "B" and "C" Ditch country, for instance, did they irrigate the Filoseno place?

WP: They irrigated that Filoseno Place. And they irrigated the Rogers Ranch a little bit.

INT: Where was the Rogers Ranch?

WP: Well the Rogers Ranch was south where the airport is now.

INT: Okay. I heard, someone said there was some ponds out there?

WP: There were a couple little meadows out there and when they ran the water to those meadows. Sometimes there were some ponds there.

INT: Do you remember anything about the soil? Like was it sandy around where you lived on Parker Creek? Was it black soil or ... sandy? Did you ever dig for worms for bait or was it ... was it real pummicey or ...

WP: Well I think it was kind of sandy and down on the Nay Ranch was a kind of a more of a heavier soil. In fact there's a family that lived there the Irrigator(?) family, and they dug the worms down at the Nay Ranch. And they had a boy and he dug worms at the Nay Ranch and there were girls and they had a worm stand right there at the Cain Ranch and they sold worms to the people when they went by to use as bait. They sold lots of worms. That was heavy ground down there at the Nay ranch.

INT: In fact Don Banta remembers later maybe forties-fifties having trouble getting around down there on the Nay Ranch 'cause there was a lot of water and it would be very muddy and stuff.

WP: On the Nay Ranch?

INT: On the Nay Ranch.

WP: Well then that was because somebody wasn't tending to the water. There were some lower places that got kind of wet but there wasn't ANY place up there where you couldn't ride. There was a place east of Parker Creek and a couple miles south of where the camp was that was kind of marshy. That would get pretty swampy sometimes. It was about five acres in size.

INT: And that was on the Cain Ranch?

WP: Yeah.

INT: Did it have ducks that you remember?

WP: The reason it got marshy was because the irrigation water kind of spread there and ran too long at a time. It was a low place and it was kind of hard to keep the water out of that part of the time.

INT: Would it be possible to find that spot on the map?

WP: Well, let's see--this is the the Grant Lake Road isn't it?

INT: Yeah.

WP: I would guess that was maybe this area. Somewhere.

INT: Sure. Great. And then ... there's a lot of springs in Rush that may have been fed by "A" and "B" and "C" Ditch. Did you ever go down and look at some of those springs? Was there a lot of extra water out in the area?

WP: The only place there would have been any springs would have been right on the edge of Rush Creek. I don't remember any others.

INT: Was there enough water spread by "A", "B" and "C" Ditch that could have possibly percolated down?

WP: I would think so. They spread lots of water out there. You can see how big those canals are. They ran them pretty full.

INT: Were there other cattle people that ran cattle in the Basin? At that time?

WP: No. Richie Conway had some cattle, and there was a dairy--the Mattlys had a few cows.

INT: Which Mattly ranch was that?

WP: Jake! The one I remember was near the Farrington Ranch.

INT: What kind of dairy cattle did people have back then?

WP: Shorthorns. Mostly.

INT: What kind of cattle did your outfit run? What kind of beef cattle?

WP: The power company?

INT: Yeah.

WP: They had shorthorn--Hereford cross cattle mostly.

INT: Kind of like what they run now, around Crowley?

WP: No. If you look around Crowley now, you'd see a lot of Brahma blood and a lot of Angus blood. And the power company's cattle were either red or roan with white faces.

INT: And was there a vegetable garden at Cain Ranch?

WP: No.

INT: Was there any ... oh logging or mining that you would remember during that time period?

WP: No. There could have been a little logging over on the Crestview area. But not anything that interfered with our cattle business.

INT: It sounds like there was so much water, so much feed that it never seemed overgrazed! Is that accurate or ...?

WP: It was well managed. They didn't overgraze it or abuse it. Anytime you abuse your land, you abuse your cattle. You know if there so hungry they're going to abuse the land, they're not doing well.

INT: Yeah. How did the sheep affect the lands in the Mono Basin?

WP: Most of those sheep ran into the Bakersfield area in the winter ... some in Lancaster ... And in the spring they drove those sheep up all the way from Bakersfield or Lancaster up through this country, and then they'd go out in the Bodie Hills for the summer, and then in the fall they'd come to the Farrington Ranch meadows.

INT: Oh so late fall, after the cattle were gone?

WP: Well, no. Not that late, but in September, maybe, or October--they'd bring the sheep in on those big meadows. Sometimes if they got short of feed on the Farrington Ranch and there was a place that we were through with running cattle on, they'd lease it to the sheepmen.

INT: So the sheep weren't really in the Mono Basin in the main part of the summer?

WP: No, really they were out in the Bodie Hills country until late summer.

INT: That explains why Jesse Durant doesn't remember that many sheep on Rush Creek.

WP: Well of course she didn't see too many sheep on Rush Creek because the power company had cattle. And the sheep would have been--after they came in in the fall--they would have been on the Farrington Ranch.

INT: I'm going to change the subject again. Did you ever hunt?

WP: Sagehen. There were a lot of sagehen up around that spot that I marked on the map where it was kind of wet part of the time. And there were a lot of sagehen over in what we call Flat Four, over east of that Benton Road turn-off. In the Rogers Ranch country, there were sagehen all through there. There were sagehen everywhere!

INT: Wow! I've seen sagehen now, and I go birdwatching a lot, I've seen them maybe three times in the Mono Basin, and then only two or three at a time.

WP: Yeah there were lots of them, you'd jump forty or fifty in a bunch.

INT: So there were hundreds?

WP: Oh yeah.

INT: Did you ever go duck hunting?

WP: Well no, that area wasn't right for ducks. Ducks like ponds and rivers so that I wasn't much in duck country up there.

INT: Do you ever remember any beaver sign or ... or did you ever see a beaver or hear anyone talking about beaver?

WP: No, I don't remember a thing about beaver.

INT: There still up Lundy canyon now.

WP: There would have been some beaver probably up Lee Vining Creek, back up in there. But I don't remember a beaver, any problems with beavers, or much conversation about beavers.

INT: What do you remember about Lee Vining Creek?

WP: Well it was probably one of the prettiest places there ever was. That water came down there and there were you know a lot of people fishing and camping up there. It was a nice place.

INT: How would the cattle get across the stream, I mean was there certain places they could ford or ...

WP: There were always crossings.

INT: So it wasn't-wasn't so deep they had trouble?

WP: No, no. No problems.

INT: And the trees weren't too thick that they couldn't get to the stream's edge? What were the trees like?

WP: Oh there was some aspen in there and I think (?)tops and probably some pine trees, but it wasn't a problem, it was a nice place.

INT: Do you remember like how wide the band of trees were on each side of the stream?

WP: Well I don't think they grew that way! They grew in clumps ... away from the creek a little. Up on the west end and I don't think they grew on the creek that much. Seems to me that Lee Vining Creek was pretty open.

INT: So there was meadows then?

WP: Good, nice meadows.

INT: Wow! I know there's meadows still above the ... Forest Service Ranger Station, but was there meadows below that? As well?

WP: Well tell me where the Ranger Station is.

INT: Okay. As if you would go up 120 towards Tioga Pass, it's about 1 mile above 395. Most of that part of the creek still has meadows.

WP: I think the meadows were best above that ranger station.

INT: So it wasn't so much below, towards the town of Lee Vining but more up.

WP: Yeah it was away from the town.

INT: Yeah. So that might not have changed so much. Have you been up Lee Vining canyon at all in the last ten-twenty years?

WP: No.

INT: They've taken the sheep out of there and so it may be different, I don't really know.

WP: Well there were no sheep when we were there--there were no sheep in Lee Vining Creek. That was cattle range.

INT: Yeah. Did you ever see Lee Vining Creek go dry?

WP: No. Well I've seen it dry after the City took the water out of course, the lower end, I've seen that dry.

INT: Yeah. Were you there much after '35 to see how things changed?

WP: No, I think that 1936 was the last year I was up there.


INT: Did you ever swim in Mono Lake?

WP: Yeah. I have. But I didn't like it. "A" Ditch and "B" Ditch had some good weirs and good places to swim.

INT: Some people said "A" Ditch had a diving board? There was a big pond with a diving board that was fun.

WP: There was one at each--there was one at "A" Ditch and one in the "B" Ditch. The power company had weirs, they were like boxes where they measured the water. And of course behind those boxes they formed deep pools as big as this house. And we liked to swim-I didn't like the Mono Lake swimming that well. When we did go to Mono Lake to swim, we went to where Rush Creek ran in, and that water was sweeter there.

INT: What was it like at the mouth of Rush Creek? Was there a lot of trees or ...?

WP: Well above there was some people named Dombrowski. There was a private vacation spot for a club or ... I don't know exactly what the deal was.

INT: Could that have been Dombrowski's Gun Club?

WP: It could have been.

INT: Some people have mentioned he had a little hunting club in there.

WP: Well you know, I don't remember exactly. I knew the people pretty well, but I don't know exactly what they did.

INT: And was the Clover family there? At that point?

WP: No. The Clovers owned (land there) but I never met any of the Clover family.

INT: Now when you swam in Mono Lake did you ever see any of the brine shrimp?

WP: Oh yeah.

INT: And was there any kind of algae that would float around?

WP: No, not where we were 'cause we went in at Rush Creek--there weren't even that many shrimp over there where Rush Creek ran in because you know they stayed where it (the water) was quieter. We'd ride around the edges of that lake a lot.

INT: Oh! So (the lakeshore) was pretty hard! You could ride right alongside the edge of the lake?

WP: Or even in it!

INT: Now (at recent lake levels) you could never get the horse close to it! In someplaces it's ...

WP: Oh yeah, we used to ride out in it and swim the horses and ...

INT: Really?

WP: In fact I'll tell you ... something kind of interesting. It applies to what you're doing --the year my dad quit the job some other people up there in the power company went to Arizona and they bought a lot of little steers ...

INT: Those little Mexican steers.

WP: Well they weren't really Mexican steers but they were Arizona steers. They brought them up here, and dehorned them out here. Their winter headquarters was out here (in Bishop) where the Mill Pond is. They dehorned those cattle and it was kind of late in the spring, and a lot of them got maggots--blow flies--in those sores. Well we doctored a lot of them here, kept them in the corral and doctored them and then we took them up there and doctored them, and then they finally turned them out, on that Rogers Ranch country that we talked about, where the airport is. And so we rode and we carried medicine and we'd rope those cattle and doctor them. And ... I went to rope a wild steer one day, he ran out in the lake. And then he hit a drop off and he went under and when he came out, I caught him and we threw him down to doctor him and all of those maggots were all gone!

INT: That's a great story!

WP: And he healed up right. That water is real medicinal.

INT: Yes.

WP: We had a big old German Shepherd and he'd go with us and his feet would get sore--he'd kind of get scalded between his legs, and when he'd come to the water, he'd go in there and lay down and he'd howl 'cause it burned, but his feet healed up. And that's another difference (between Mono Lake water and fresh water). If you wash your dirty clothes--oily-greasy clothes--in that water they would come clean, but they would rot if you didn't rinse them out.

INT: Yes! I spent a couple of years working on the gull islands as a biologist. I would always wear you know little gloves and stuff, but alkali would rot the gloves and rot-rot my hands, you get sores on your hands and ... when it was ... you had to mess around with the boat a lot.

WP: And I know people who have boats, and if they go up there to sail, they always wash their boats well after they took them out.

INT: That's wise.

INT: Did you ever got a chance to go to the islands?

WP: No. Of course when we were up there, we could still see the house ...

INT: The McPherson homestead?

WP: Yeah.

INT: Here is a picture of Lee Vining Creek (1916 Dixon photo), and it is a bit, it's hard to know where that is exactly--do you recognize it?

WP: Well it's up above the road, I'd say.

INT: Above the highway?

WP: Well yeah. This is down where we started to run pretty fast, yeah I don't see any, anything there that would be a radical change.

INT: So that's a quite old one. And this is labeled Rush Creek but everyone I've showed it to says, oh that's got to be "A" Ditch ...

WP: That's the "A" Ditch.

INT: So "A" Ditch never had much ... willows or anything come in around it?

WP: No, no.

INT: Would they keep water in that all year? Or would they ...?

WP: No, I think in the winter, they turned it all back into Rush Creek.

INT: And this is also on Rush (photo with bridge between willow-lined banks).

WP: I don't think it was that brushy when we were up there. I don't remember the bridge.

INT: No one else seems to remember exactly that bridge. Oh yeah, they remember some like it, but ...Well here's (another picture)--our mystery picture. It's supposed to be a pond near the mouth of Rush, but ... other people have said, well, maybe not (picture of a pond with Mono Lake in background).

WP: You mean this? Is that the pond?

INT: That's the lake, and then this little pond right here, yes, that small pond ...

WP: Well that wouldn't have been a very big pond if it was and it would be easy to not notice I think. I couldn't say.

I don't remember 'cause you see when we were up there on on that Clover property, we didn't have any business being on that Clover property (except to visit). We would go in visit with the people and then, you know, go on so ... I never went down that creek really clear to the lake.

INT: Now (this picture is) the same thing. You might not know much about this area because you might have never been there, but it's meant to be below the Narrows, and it's someplace, and it was supposed to be taken about 1935 or so ... and these here are big trees, and of course it's winter so they look kind of small, but they're cottonwoods, and there's some willows (aerial or elevated photo of Rush Creek bottomlands).

WP: They may have dammed it up developed those ponds after we were there. I don't remember that.

INT: Well this would be the same close-up ... with watercress beds and ...

WP: I don't remember that.

INT: It was way down in the bottomlands there. Did you ever see ducks at Mono Lake? On the lake itself?

WP: Yes ... But I don't think there were ... I think that the ducks came through and they were more apt to come down through Adobe meadows and Black Lake and that country than Mono Lake.

INT: Well some people remember a lot of ducks, but they would be there later in the fall too (later then when you were there).

WP: I don't remember lots of ducks. But ... Donny Banta, maybe Augie Hess--those guys were a little later--they stayed there all year. They'd have seen 'em when I wouldn't have.

INT: In fact I talked to both of them, and they have a lot of ... vivid memories of ducks... But they were doing a lot of hunting and ...

WP: Of course when I was up there I was still going to school! And so, come September, I didn't spend much time up there.

INT: So you came back down to Bishop then?

WP: Yeah. I'd go up there on weekends and help gather the cattle and do what work had to be done, but at that time, we were all up on those meadows.

INT: Oh so you would drive then ... a car?

WP: Yeah.

INT: To get ... back to Bishop. Yeah. That's a long ways, back then I'm sure it was a long ways.

WP: Well the road was different then, it took longer than it does now.

INT: When you were there a lot of the land was grazed ... so maybe not so much hay was grown?

WP: Cramasco got a little bit of hay. Bob Currie might have cut a little bit on the other side of the lake.

INT: Now he had cattle too?

WP: A few.

INT: Yeah. 'Cause in the Bodie days I think they grew a certain amount of hay in Mono Lake to sell up in Bodie.

WP: If they bought hay that came from Mono Lake it probably came off of the Conway Ranch! Of course, maybe before I was there, something happened that I don't know about.

INT: Yeah, I'm not sure.

WP: And I think Mattly cut a little bit of hay for his dairy. I think they cut some hay.

INT: Did they overwinter those cattle? The dairy cattle?

WP: They kept them right there.

INT: How about the Goat (Scanovino) ranch? Was there cattle on that area? You might not have gotten over on that part of the Basin?

WP: There, there used to be a man named Henry Burkham(?), and he ran some cattle over around where was ...

INT: There's a place called Alkali Valley that has a Burkham(?) tank listed on the map ...

WP: Sometimes those cattle would drift over and get over on the lake. On the north side. And sometimes he would send a man over ... he'd ride over, maybe spend a day or two with us, and then go back.

INT: So the Bodie Hills were filled with sheep, then there wasn't much cattle up in there then?

WP: I think there were some cattle there too, but basically it was sheep.

INT: Well you have a great memory! This is really ...

WP: Well I-I enjoyed it ... I like the country up there and and ... I enjoyed it, I liked it.

INT: It's still beautiful there, even though it's...changed.

WP: And it does distress me to see those meadows dead.

INT: Yeah. Well they do have water back in Parker!

INT: But not on the grass.

INT: Yeah! Well I think it's, maybe 'cause it's been so dry ...

WP: But if they make some changes, I mean if they-if they continue to leave all that water in the Mono Basin, I would think that they could put some water back on those meadows.

INT: There's talk about re-irrigating some places. Yeah.

WP: Because you can see ... how much land that they used to irrigate, and there still was enough water to maintain the lake!

INT: That's right. (The water is ) all meant to be for trout, but the trout-the baby trout used to go up the irrigation ditches and ... use some of that (irrigation) habitat ...

WP: I can remember ... times when the "A" Ditch washed out, broke? And we would go up there with barley sacks! And fill the barley sacks with fish that big!

INT: Eighteen inches!

WP: Out of those ponds.

INT: Now were those brown trout? Or rainbow?

WP: I don't know what they were! They were fish!

INT: That is amazing!

WP: But you just can't believe, the amount of fish that died there at one time or another. You just can't believe it, if you didn't see it.

INT: Yeah. Burton Frasher who was a photographer ...

WP: I remember him.

INT: You remember him? His son, Burton Frasher Jr. brought up some of the old films in August of this year. And they showed the old ... Mark Twain Days? And they turned fish with pitchforks ... in the frying pans! And they had these big washtubs actually, the frying pans were too small ... they had washtubs set-up to fry the fish.

WP: I remember that.

INT: It's too bad you missed that, it was a lot of fun!

WP: I didn't miss it! I remember it.


WP: In fact we took our horses over and swam them in races! On Mark Twain Days.

INT: Wow! Did people have blooded horses-- were there quarterhorses back then or ...

WP: No. There were some (army) remount stallions in the country and some of them were thoroughbreds and some were standardbreds. And they bred those horses to just whatever mares they had, mustangs or draft mares or whatever ... and if the horse got big, they worked him, and if he wasn't that big, they rode him. And the fact is ... we brought the first quarterhorse to Inyo County.

INT: Really? Wow. Were there any draft horses?

WP: Lots of draft horses. The power company that I mentioned that we worked for had a ... oh they ran fifteen to twenty mares that they bred, so they had you know fifteen or twenty ... colts every winter, every spring. They really had lots of workhorses.

INT: What breed were they? Any certain breed of draft horse?

WP: Most of those were percherons.

INT: Were they grey ones or black ones?

WP: Grey. Well there was everything. Well they had two stallions, one was grey and one was roan. I can remember another, two other roan stallions. Of course I was pretty small then so I didn't get around a bunch. But I can remember some people that my dad worked for before he went up here, their name was Longyear, and they had a German coach horse that they had.

INT: Wow! That's just become trendy again, to have that kind of horse.

WP: Yeah they were rich folks, lived in Los Angeles, and I don't know how they came about getting that horse. But I remember him. But those... I can remember those percheron horses, there were lots of them. This power company put up lots of hay and corn and stuff and used all horses, there wasn't a tractor on the ranch.(Abelour Ranch, near the Mill Pond in Bishop)

INT: So when it sold out its lands to Los Angeles what happened to their cattle operation?

WP: They sold the cattle.

INT: Wow! So that really was the end of the cattle operation. When was this--the forties or something?

WP: When they sold them?

INT: Yeah.

WP: That was probably 1934-'35.

INT: That's why you stopped going out, 'cause they sold out.

WP: Well they sold-yeah! They sold their land and everything ... So we bought a pack outfit and we ran a pack outfit about ten years and then we eased into cattle.

INT: And where was your pack operation?

WP: It was up Big Pine Creek. Glacier Lodge area.

INT: Yeah. So then their cattle were sold down here? They weren't sold up in Mono Basin?

WP: They went away to Los Angeles or wherever. They sold them through a commission house in Los Angeles. I don't know where they all went. But some of them went out of here on the train and some of them went on trucks.

INT: It sounds like then the cattle grazing was decreased for awhile in the Mono Basin?

WP: Well, what happened one or two years after the power company sold out there were some people rented parts of that and had cattle, but then the sheep took it all over.

End of interview.

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