Yamsi Barn

The first cattle were introduced to the Klamath Basin in the winter of 1856 by Judge F. Adams, a California rancher who grazed his herd near Keno, and Wendolen Nus, who pastured his stock near the Klamath River.  The first cattle ranch, however, was not established in the area until 1866.  The devastating winters of 1879-1880 and 1889-1890 were major setbacks for Klamath Basin ranchers.  The Southern Oregon cattle industry did not significantly recover until after the turn of the century.  The Klamath Basin experienced a rapid increase in livestock ranches in the early decades of the twentieth century due to the vast acreage of free range—land still unclaimed and not part of a U.S. national forest—and cheap land sold by the Klamath Indians.  In 1911, Dayton “Uncle Buck” Williams purchased the first portion of Yamsi Ranch from Native Americans.  Ultimately, the ranch—pictured here in 2001—grew to 5,000 acres.  Today, Yamsi Ranch, located in the mountains above Chiloquin, is a unique vacation destination for sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts.  The Hyde Family (Williams’ descendants) has received conservation awards for restoring river banks and replanting trees.  They strive for a world-class fishery and boast of raising their livestock naturally without hormones or antibiotics.

Further Reading:
Klamath County Historical Society. The History of Klamath Country, Oregon. Dallas, Texas, 1984.

“History of the Klamath County Cattle Industry,” Oregon Cattleman. October 1970.

Written by Robert Donnelly, © Oregon Historical Society, 2003.

Map It

Related Historical Records

Cattlemen and Indians

Between winter and fall in the Upper Basin country of lakes and marshlands, great quantities of water evaporate into the high desert skies. In the nineteenth century, before Klamath Project engineers drained the land and regulated its waters, lake shores rose and fell, revealing wagon tracks from previous years.

The …

Klamath Falls, 1941

In 1860, the Federal Government granted the states swamplands, and by 1867, Oregon opened these lands to settlers.  That same year, “swampgrabber” George Nurse secured 160 acres of marshy land and established Linkville on the eastern bank of the Link River between Upper Klamath Lake and Lake Ewauna.  By 1885, …

Klamath Homestead Drawing

Veteran homestead lotteries were established after World War I to reward soldiers and sailors with newly reclaimed land in the Klamath Basin.  There were five different homestead drawings between 1922 and 1937.  More drawings were scheduled, but were cancelled because of World War II.

In December 1946, the first of …

Klamath Indian Reservation

When white explorers entered the Klamath Basin in the 1820s, the Klamath Indians occupied the Upper Klamath Lake area, which included Klamath Marsh and the Sprague and Williamson rivers.  The Modoc people inhabited the Tule Lake area of Northern California and Southern Oregon.  Yahooskin land bordered Klamath territory to the …

News Article, Klamath Indians Draw Spotlight

This newspaper article describes some of the early debates over the termination of southern Oregon’s Klamath Tribes. The complex politicking reported in this piece went on until 1954, when the U.S. Congress passed the Klamath Termination Act.

Termination can be defined as the annulment of treaty agreements between the United …

Union Stockyards Cattle Show

People and animals lined up for a livestock show on the grounds of the Portland Union Stockyards.  The first part of the twentieth century was a busy time at the stockyards.  One of the last livestock commission men recalled in 1967, that in its heyday, from the 1920s through the …

Related Oregon Encyclopedia Articles

This entry was last updated on March 28, 2021