Monday, September 1, 2014

Tall Grass Prairie near Bartlesville, Oklahoma and my telegraph operator promotion.

Recently I made a trip to the tall grass prairie which starts about 40 miles from Ponca City Okla. A friend and I ate at the senior center in Kaw city Okla and then we drove east to Shidler Okla and north to just south of Foraker Okla.  We went in the back way as usually you go through Pawhuska Okla to get to the reserve.  This reserve was started in about 1989 when the Barnard Ranch was sold for the reserve.  It was made so that the native grasses of the southern part of the flint Hills would be preserved.  Buffalo were also brought in to the reserve about this time.

     This year the rain has been plentiful and the grass is green all over Osage County.  The reserve starts about 7 miles east of Highway 18 just south of Foraker..In other words you go 7 miles before the reserve starts. There were numerous cattle in the pastures and also a lot of horses.  I think the ranchers are taking care of those horses for the government.  We saw a herd of buffalo going into the headquarters but they were not close to the road.

    We went to the headquarters and two docents were there and they did not have any other people looking that day.  We started talking and the man was related to the people that sold the ranch to the tall grass preserve in 1989. He said that they also had all or part of the Kings Ranch close to Corpus Christi Texas .  Then I started to tell him about how the cattle used to be shipped from many places in Texas to Osage county to be fattened for market.

     The first job I worked after being promoted to telegraph operator was the third trick operators job at Ralston Okla.  The trains came into Ralston from Texas via South Shawnee Okla which was a watering stop for the cattle as they had to be unloaded and watered every 36 hours.  The docent said the ranch in Osage county had a siding where they unloaded the cattle. The railroad had a branch line coming off the Santa Fe old second dist which connected with the main line that went into Tulsa.  This branch also went through Pawhuska and Bowring.  The railroad kept the stock trains off the main line which went from Arkansas City to Ft worth.  They cut off on the second dist from Pauls Valley Okla and then hit the main line again at Newkirk Okla.

   A little more about the stock rush.  In 1946 I was second trick operator at south Shawnee Okla during the stock rush and were we ever busy.  The Fort Worth realay office would send me consists of the trains and where the cattle were going and if they needed to be watered.  The section foreman would be called out and they would unload the cattle to be watered and then load them up again in the same stock car.  After the cattle were taken care of we would call the train crews get the orders ready and send them on the way through Cushing and up the second dist to Ralston or Arkansas City.  We had cattle on the  trains going into the flint hills in Kansas and some of the towns were Burden, Cassoday, Matfield Green, Cottonwood Falls and other stops in Kansas.

    Everything had to be organized so that there would be a crew ready to take these cattle to their destination, so it had to be coordinated by telegraph or message phone.

     Enough about that.  We toured the Ranch headquarters which had been nicely restored and then came on back and visited some more with the docents.

     We then left to go back home and the buffalo were close to the road and there were several calves.  they were close to a pond and some were in the pond.  I have lived in this part of the country for almost 70 years and it is more beautiful this august 2014 than at any time that I can remember.

     Osage County is at the southern end of the flint Hills and I understand that there is no other place like it on earth.  The Flint Hills cover a large amount of ground in south central Kansas and I would encourage you to take a good look at them if you are ever in this part of the United States.

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