Original Oregon Trail Riders

By Phyllis Badgley
 

In the early 1940s, a group of Baker City horse enthusiasts met, drew up a charter and elected officers, and the Oregon Trail Riders Club was born.

My parents, Red and Louine May, were among those charter members. A clubhouse was maintained at 500 Campbell, present location of the Sunridge Inn.

The horsemen and women organized a 24 member drill team, which practiced at the Fairgrounds arena on Grove Street.

Carrying flags, they rode their mounts through precision patterns of figure eight, spokewheel and front line drills.

A good natured ribbing occurred if a flag was inadvertently dropped during practice, and if a rider was unexpectedly "unseated" from his steed, he was awarded the far from coveted "Prince of Wales" certificate.

Riders represented diverse occupations. Among participants were a banker, grocer, housewife, priest, stockman, auto dealer, carpenter and clerk.

For public performances Oregon Trail Riders wore white shirts and black leather chaps with OTR insignia on the lower border of the chaps.

The drill team performed by invitation at horse related events. On one occasion they transported their horses, by train, to Burns. I remember humorous writings and horse posters emblazoned on the sides of the boxcars.

Local readers will recall OTR members. Oran and Eloise McKittrick, Ruth Mires, Gray and Nell Hester, Hank and Audrey Nemec, Jack and Midge Stellman, Etha Langrell, Catharine Tyler, Delma Miles, Elmer and Peggy Satterberg and Jake Wilkinson.

Activities and social gathering were held throughout the years until later OTR numbers dwindled due to death and members moving away.

A handful of members remain in our city today, but the club is inactive.

Although their hat and chaps were hung up long ago, memories in the mind of horse lovers linger still.

55 years laterů it seems but yesterday.

Printed here with the permission of Baker City Herald

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Baker County

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