War Horses From Okanogan

War Horses From Okanogan

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

In 1906 cowboys in the Ephrata area rounded up a few thousand wild horses and sold them to buyers back East in what was known as “The Last Grand Roundup.” At the time this event was considered a final farewell to the era of the Old West in Eastern Washington.

But the day of the horse wasn’t quite over. Amazingly, horses were in so much demand by the European powers early in the Great War that buyers came all the way to Washington State to acquire the animals.

The following article was found in the Okanogan Independent, June 19, 1915:


 “Another band of twenty-nine horses were purchased in Okanogan last week by Ted Lasley, representing contractors who are securing horses for the French and English governments to be used in the cavalry, artillery and commissary departments of the armies of the allies in the great European struggle now going on. For the past two months horse buyers have made frequent visits to the Okanogan valley and it is stated by Mr. Lasley that fully $100,000 has been distributed in different parts of the county for horseflesh and expenses of various kinds for the buyers. In Okanogan alone previous to the buying expedition last week they had spent $13,000, and the band that went out last week brought the sum total for this point to a figure near $17,000. The animals bring from $100 to $150 each, according to age, size and physical condition.”

By the time the United States entered the war in 1917, the use of horses was already starting to give way to more mechanized methods of assault as the 19th and 20th centuries overlapped on the battlefield.

The Okanogan Independent covered life in that region from 1905-1975. The Washington State Library has nearly a complete set available on microfilm.

The newspaper also organized and published in book form a series of local biographies in 1924 called Glimpses of Pioneer Life. WSL has this title available in hardcopy, as well as in online digital form.

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