National Geographic : 1969 Jan
EKTACHROME BYRAYATKESON(Q N.G.S . went insane. His name has been perpetuated in "John Day Country," a small town, a river, and the newest dam on the Columbia River, northeast of The Dalles. I reached Pendleton, center of northeastern Oregon's wheat and cattle country, a full two months before the famous September Round Up (pages 90-91), but found its planners as busy as if the rodeo were to open the next day. "It's like this all year long," said Leonard King, Round-Up president, as he went over advance box-office records with his staff at the stadium. "No sooner do we wind up one rodeo than we start working on the next. It's been going since 1910 and gets bigger every year. It celebrates the end of the harvest year, which in this part of the country means wheat and peas." Smooth as tawny velvet pillows, fields of winter wheat fall to a harvester in the vast grain empire stretching from The Dalles to Pendleton. Oregon's principal crop since early days, wheat served as legal tender worth $1 a bushel in the late 1840's. Until the coming of steam, Portland sent the grain to world markets in fleets of windjammers. A big problem of recent years, said Mr. King, is arranging camera positions for tele vision crews and taking care they are not maimed by bucking broncs and bulls. "A few years ago," Mr. King went on, "some TV people talked us into digging a pit so they could photograph a wild horse from a low angle. We wound up with the horse, the cowboy, the camera, and the crew all piled up in the hole. Strangely, nobody was hurt." The Sandhill Crane's Best Friend I realized that my time in Oregon was run ning out and I still hadn't seen a man called Hawk Hyde. People all over Oregon had told me about Hawk. He was a rancher and nat uralist formally named Dayton O.Hyde, who lived in southern Oregon and who had dedi cated himself to protecting the greater sandhill crane. In doing so he had earned the thanks of the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as awards from conservation organizations. A Portland ornithologist had told me, "Sometimes I get the eerie feeling that this man has turned himself into a sandhill crane. At the very least, he is an honorary member of the species Grus canadensis." Some 70 miles from Klamath Falls I turned in at the gate of Yamsi Ranch to be greeted by Hawk Hyde himself, tall, lean, denim-clad. Hawk explained that the name Yamsi was Klamath Indian for "home of the north wind." Hawk said his interest in wild creatures was born during a lonely boyhood in northern Michigan. After graduating from the Univer sity of California, he went to work on an elder brother's ranch near Bly, Oregon. "By that time," he said, "I had become an awfully soft touch for birds and animals, es pecially those in trouble. I used to lean on my shovel when I should have been working, and listen to the marsh birds calling. My favorite was the sandhill crane. Its cry is a delightful rolling sound; to me, it's as truly Western as the rumble of wagon wheels." About 20 years ago Hawk realized he was hearing the cranes less frequently. Sloshing through the marshes, he counted the birds.