Scenic North Central Oregon ~ High Desert Ghost Town
Visitor Information & Local News for Antelope & Shaniko Community
Old-Fashioned Historic Charm and Hospitality on the road to:
John Day River & Fossil Country - National Monument- Painted Hills, Clarno-
Young Life Wildhorse Canyon Washington Family Ranch (formerly Rajneeshpuram)
Scenic Highway Day Trip from and to:
Maupin Deschutes River White Water Rafting & Fly Fishing - Sherar's Bridge Falls
Bend & Redmond Oregon - Exciting Motorcycle & Biking Touring Route
Warm Springs Indian Reservation- Indian Head Casino- Ka-Nee-Ta Lodge
Grass Valley Oregon Raceway Park
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CITY OF ANTELOPE AND MUDDY RANCH
The histories of the town of Antelope and the Muddy Ranch are closely intertwined. The town and ranch are only a few miles apart, in the broken range country of north-central Oregon, and what has happened to one over the years has had consequences for the other.
The Muddy Ranch (never "The Big Muddy" to locals; the redundant adjective seems to have entered popular usage with the Rajneeshees) covers nearly 70,000 acres, mainly in Wasco and Jefferson counties. Established in the late nineteenth century by the Prineville Land and Livestock Company, with headquarters on Muddy Creek, the ranch in its heyday in the early 1900s supported large herds of sheep and cattle. Each year, ranch hands trailed the herds to summer range the ranch owned on Summit Prairie in the Ochocos; the herds then wintered-over on the Muddy. When the Summit Prairie range was sold in the 1950s, the Muddy's livestock operation diminished as the always-sparse forage on the home ranch was quickly overgrazed.
Joseph Sherar apparently named Muddy Creek in 1862 when he was packing supplies to the John Day mines. He must have come upon the creek during spring runoff or after a cloudburst; ordinarily its flow is minimal, and in summer it often seems to dry up during the day, only to resume flowing at night.
Long-time owners of the Muddy Ranch included Leo Hahn and his son Dick, and Reub Evans. As with other big Oregon ranches, in the hard times of the 1960s and 1970s, the ranch was perpetually for sale. In 1981, Ma Anand Sheela, a representative of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his cult, purchased the ranch for $5.75 million. Rancho Rajneesh, as it was called, contentiously occupied the Muddy Ranch until the group collapsed in 1985 and the property reverted to the State of Oregon.
In 1991, Dennis R. Washington's firm Washington Construction, of Montana (or a subsidiary), bought the ranch for $3.65 million. In the 1990s, Washington attempted to run the ranch for profit and also tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the State of Oregon to turn the land into a state park. Since 1999 the property has been operating as a Young Life Christian camp, Washington Family Ranch (formerly WildHorse Canyon Camp), supported in part by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.
During the Rajneesh era, the cult took over the town of Antelope—the town council, store, school, everything but the post office—by simply moving into town and out-voting the fifty or so natives. They re-named it Rajneesh (the store/cafe became Zorba the Buddha). Most of the non-Rajneesh residents left as a result, but many have since returned to reclaim their town and to carry on its heritage as the "seat of commerce" for the area; Antelope had a population of 59 as of the 2000 census.
Howard Maupin established the town of Antelope in 1863, about one and a half miles northeast of the present town, as a stage station on The Dalles-Canyon City Road. When the road was re-routed in 1881, the town moved along with it. Antelope grew rapidly as the traffic of freight wagons carrying wool out of the region increased and, in around 1900, when homesteaders arrived. By 1911, the town's brief boom began to decline with the coming of railroads to central Oregon and the decline of sheep raising.
As a boy in 1906-1908, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist H.L. Davis worked as a typesetter for the Antelope Herald, and his impressions of freighters, horse-traders, Indians, and improvident homesteaders passing through town figure vividly in his novel Honey in the Horn and in several of his essays. Another notable (and life-long) Antelope resident was John Silvertooth, who in addition to running his "Idle Hours" saloon, was variously mayor, barber, justice of the peace, and town clerk from the 1920s to the 1970s. By Jerald Ramsay
Central Oregon Range Wars
Oregon Historical Society
"The range wars in Central and Eastern Oregon initially involved threats and scattered property damage. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, these incidents escalated to the burnings of sheep camps, and direct violence, including the clubbing, poisoning, and shooting of sheep. Violence perpetrated by groups of vigilante cattlemen reached a climax in the years 1904-1906. In April 1904, 2,300 sheep were killed in a single night in Lake County. In May 1904, a delegation of sheepmen from Antelope in eastern Wasco County traveled to Crook County in an effort to reach an agreement with the cattle ranchers of central Oregon. This attempt was unsuccessful and a few days later, 150 sheep were shot near Mitchell, located fifty miles southeast of Antelope. Additional incidents of sheep shooting occurred in Central Oregon that summer. The region’s sheepmen continued to advocate a non-violent resolution to the conflict, calling on state officials to act in order to stem the violence. In response, a group of cattlemen calling themselves the Crook County Sheep-Shooting Association urged the governor and state officials not to meddle in the affairs of “our province.”
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Central Oregon: Adaptation & Compromise in an Arid Landscape. Post-Industrial Years.
Oregon Historical Society
Although all central Oregon communities have undergone rapid changes, none has been more profoundly affected by the new times than the tiny ranching town of Antelope. In June 1981, followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh purchased the 64,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch near Antelope for $5.7 million, establishing a community they called Rajneeshpuram. The Rajneeshees, as they were known, gained control of the Antelope City Council in 1984 and changed the name of Antelope to Rashneesh. In August 1984, the sect began bussing homeless people from other U.S. cities to Rajneeshpuram, and registering them as Wasco County voters. After a series of bizarre incidents including an alleged attempt to poison residents of The Dalles, the Bhagwan and some of his followers fled to North Carolina. There he was arrested on charges of immigration fraud and was brought back to Oregon for trial. He was convicted, fined $400,000, and deported from the United States. The faithful accompanied the Bhagwan back to Pune, India, the homeless drifted away, the ranch was sold to new owners, and life eventually returned to normal in Antelope, which got its old name back in 1986.
1983- Following Antelope take-over "Rajneesh Times" Newspaper headlines threats made against only Non-Rajneesh member of the Antelope City Council John Silvertooth-Stewart.
Oregon Public Broadcast documentary shows Rajneesh controlled Antelope City Council with only non-Rajneesh member John Silvetooth-Stewart center.
Dedication of Oregon History memorial in Antelope celebrating Antelope's role opening up Eastern Oregon as transportation hub along the Dalles Military Road and earlier as miners moved in John Day Baker area gold fields.
Roy Forman, left, Till Forman and Carolyn Forman in front of the Antelope sign.
April 24, 2000
The atmosphere is reminiscent of turmoil stirred up here by a different group of strangers in the 1980s -- 4,000 followers of cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
The chanting, purple-clad Rajneeshees left 15 years ago, after their leaders tried to poison food in nearby towns and hatched a plot to kill a federal prosecutor.
But trouble has once again come to Antelope.
Tomorrow, Antelope will vote on whether to recall all but one of the five City Council members -- a campaign started by one of the newcomers, Allen Yow.
Yow has succeeded in drawing a lot of attention to himself -- and in the process has aroused suspicions among the locals.
Outside his home, a filthy, tattered American flag flaps in the breeze. This battered Old Glory, Yow said, represents the depths to which this nation has fallen -- the "sin of immoral living."
Above that flag is one that is pristine and white, with a blue corner that harbors a red cross. This is a "Christian flag" popular among Christian fundamentalists such as himself, Yow said.
John Silvertooth, a city councilman who is among the targets of Yow's recall, said he has seen the white flag on the home page of the white supremacist group Aryan Nation... the flag display has riled a lot of people in Antelope -- as has Yow's recall effort. They wonder about his motives.
Backers of the recall effort, many of whom are fairly recent arrivals, are referred to by local residents as "the 10," the number of people who signed the recall petition.
"All of us got along fine until the 10 rolled in here," said Dan Wilson, an Antelope resident.
The locals whisper concerns of links to radical-right groups such as the Montana-based Freemen and the Aryan Nation. Yow denies any extremist connection.
"I have never been in contact with the Freemen whatsoever. I'm not sure who they are except that they come from Montana," he said, adding that he doesn't know what the Aryan Nation is.
The FBI has entered the picture. Wilson said an FBI agent interviewed him for five hours, but he won't say what about.
Silvertooth produced an FBI business card indicating he, too, had been contacted but declined to elaborate.
The FBI refuses to say what its agents were up to in Antelope. Some of the locals have set up a "vigilance committee" to keep an eye on the newcomers.
"We're all still trying to figure out who they are, what they're after," said Brian Sheer, Antelope's mayor. "We ask, what's their plan, what's their intent, and nobody comes up with an answer."
Yow and his wife moved to Antelope in October and had previously lived in Montana. His father and mother are relatively new residents, as are two acquaintances of the Yows -- Dan and Peggy Adams.
Yow and his father, David, say they would like to see Antelope run by Wasco County.
"We have no intent of taking over," said 35-year-old Allen Yow, who earns a living maintaining campsites for the federal Bureau of Land Management.
"But if the government isn't honest and fair, let it go back to the county. We don't need any government." ... The Yows and the city council locked horns early.
Allen Yow said the council wanted to bring in a garbage service "and charge us whether we used it or not." Yow said he objected "and ever since then I became a target because I stood up for what was right."
The Yows and others gathered signatures for the recall of four of the five council members.
The fifth -- Lisa Shockley -- hasn't been in office long enough to be subject to recall. Sheer said the petitioners want to spend money that isn't budgeted and have no clue how a town has to be run.
Some worry bad blood could continue even if the recall fails. "Just because they can't win doesn't mean they'll stop bugging us," said Silvertooth, whose family has been in Antelope since the 1880s. Mistrust is deep.
Some locals report late-night phone calls with no messages -- the caller just hangs up. Yow reports similar calls. Caller ID boxes, once unheard-of in Antelope, now are commonplace. After the Rajneeshees, suspicions come easily.
Rajneesh, a self-styled "rich man's guru," and thousands of his followers moved into a former ranch on Antelope's outskirts in the early 1980s. They took over the city council in a 1984 election and set up their own Rajneesh Peace Force to patrol Antelope.
Cult members once sickened 700 residents of The Dalles after lacing restaurant salad bars with salmonella. Cult members were also accused of plotting to kill a U.S. attorney.
The cult moved out of Antelope in 1985 and fell apart.
Alice Hensley, the city recorder and at $50 a month, the only paid employee, worries Antelope is in for the same kind of trouble. "We're just a little tiny country town with little tiny country town ideas," said Hensley, 75.
"I can close my eyes and hear the Rajneesh. I've been there, I've done that and I don't want to do it again. "This is my town. I was here first and I want to be here after they've gone."
(Editors note: None of the City Councilors were recalled. Several years later Allan Yow was murdered by his daughter.)
Warm Springs Indians 1902 near Antelope Central Oregon
HOWARD MAUPIN'S GRAVE
Wool Buyers at Shaniko
This photograph features wool buyers at Shaniko in eastern Wasco County. In 1910, the approximate date of this photograph, Shaniko was a major transportation hub linking central and Eastern Oregon to larger markets throughout the United States.
The name “Shaniko” derives from the surname of August Schernecknau, a German emigrant. In 1874, Schernacknau and his family settled near Cross Hollows, a stop on the stagecoach line linking The Dalles to Canyon City. Schernacknau and his family eventually left Cross Hollows after ten years of managing the local stage stop. However, when a group of local businessmen and farmers began developing plans for a new town site that would be located on the proposed Columbia Southern rail line into central Oregon, they decided that the name of the new town should be “Shaniko,” a common pronunciation of the name Schernacknau. These town promoters located the new settlement on the hill above Cross Hollows. The first train arrived in Shaniko in May 1900.
Within a year, two financiers from The Dalles, B.F. Laughlin and W. Lord, constructed a huge wool warehouse in Shaniko, the largest in Oregon at the time. Shaniko quickly became a major trade center for the wool produced in central and eastern Oregon. In 1903 Shaniko was referred to as the “Wool Capital of the World” after three wool sales brought in the largest total sale of wool on record to date. The next year, sheepmen sold an estimated five million dollars worth of wool to buyers in Shaniko. By Oregon History Project, OHS.
Central Oregon Sheepherders
This photograph depicts a group of sheepherders in Central Oregon during the latter decades of the nineteenth century.
In the years following the Civil War, large, open tracts of land became available to Euro Americans as the federal government progressively instituted the long-standing policy of Indian removal, whereby Native groups were forcibly re-settled onto reservations. As a result, sheep raising on the open range expanded throughout the American West, including Central Oregon. Central Oregon was a choice area for sheep raising. Sheepmen would graze their animals on the slopes of the Cascades and Ochoco Mountains during the spring and summer, moving the bands to the lower elevations during the cold winter months. In addition, the sheep proved particularly adapted to the changing plant life of the Central Oregon range. Sheep preferred the annual non-native “weeds” (or forbs) such as pigweed and quack grass that took root after cattle had grazed on native species such as bunchgrass and giant wild rye.
Routine, isolation, and an attention to detail—especially the health of the sheep—marked the lives of the sheepherders on the open range. Also known as tramp sheepmen, these sheepherders were not always well-liked by either farmers or cattlemen. This stemmed from a general view of sheepherding as a less reputable occupation than farming or stock raising and from growing conflicts over land use and natural resources. Despite these difficulties, young immigrant men, particularly those from countries with sheepherding traditions, sought out these positions, which provided opportunities for economic advancement. Upon receiving their annual pay, sheepherders might purchase their own small flocks in order to become independent operators.
The Murder of
Chief Paulina and other headmen of the Hunipuitöka Paiute agreed to sign a treaty in the spring of 1865 after U.S. Army forces captured a group of Paiute hostages in the fall of 1864. Paulina’s wife and son were among those captured. Despite the treaty ceeding their lands in the Blue Mountains, Paulina and his band left the Klamath Reservation in April 1866 as they considered the treaty unfair. One year later, he was killed during a retaliatory attack by early Antelope settler Howard Maupin who headed a posse which left from the Antelope Stage Stop. Paulina’s last engagement took place at a cove later named Paulina Basin, located in northeastern Jefferson County. Maupin scalped Paulina and first paraded the scalp in the streets of the Dalles and Canyon City and the brought his scalp back to his Antelope homestead and nailed the scalp to his barn as a trophy. When his band heard of this the medicine men came to the old city one evening and cursed Maupin and his land forever.
Early Antelope Valley settler Howard Maupin
CHIEF PAULINA'S GHOST
In the Year of Our Lord 1906
I swear before God to tell this story true just as it happened to us boys Percy Davis and Willie Silvertooth.
It started snowing this morning when we went to school. Old Uncle Amos took sick last night and us boys had to start the stoves and lamps. Some of the older boys were there and Ben Taylor swore he had been out by the old town grave yard on his horse and saw Chief Paulina's ghost and that we should go tonight and get a look. My Father told me not to go and told Ben Taylor to quit scaring us. Willie and I we were not scared. At recess we decided we would go right after dark and see for ourself. Chattie Silvertooth and Gertie Hastings heard us so they can tell you that it is true. It was snowing awful hard but we set out to go about 6 O'Clock from in back of the Silvertooth's saloon on a couple of ponies that belonged to some sheep herders who had been drunk on whiskey since Wednesday. Willie went to see his Father who was not there because he was up at Shaniko but Sim Browder saw us and he could tell you it is true as we told him we were head to see Chief Paulina's ghost. We reckoned Ben Taylor may be playing a trick on us so instead of going out the road we went down to the creek and up behind Lilac Hill. Up in the hills some pack of coyotes were howling and screeching like they had a fresh kill. It spooked the ponies real bad and they took off at a full gallop and Willie's tried to buck him off. The ponies took is for a mile or so along the creek. It was still snowing right badly and us boys had lost our true bearings being taken from our route. We thought we was at Maupin's homestead but we could not swear that part. The ponies both came to a dead stop and were spooked. Then a light across the creek came towards us and we could see it was a glowing silver Apaloosa Indian pony. Then it came right besides us and we knew then in was a ghost one of the ponies from Paulina's tribe. She looked at us and said she was protecting good life in the canyon and that we were young to go into the place and we should get on the road and ride back to town before we were killed by the curse Paulina's medicine men put on the Maupin place. The ponies followed him to the road and he sent them at a gallup towards the lights of town. We got back to the saloon and tied the ponies up at the water trough. We peeked through the back door and saw on the clock it was after 11 O'clock. We did not see how we were gone that long. We saw Sim Browder again and he can swear to it we told him the whole story and he accused us of stealing whiskey and getting drunk we were so crazy. I came home my brother pulled me in the window and I am now writing this accounting of this story and my brother said he would ask old man Luddeman to print this in the paper. We saw the ghost of the old Indian pony and we know Chief Paulina's ghost must be true.
ANTELOPE & SHANIKO OREGON
LEGENDARY WESTERN GHOST TOWNS ON STATE
"JOURNEY THROUGH TIME
OREGON SCENIC BYWAY"
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