Escallier Crater State Park

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CASUALTY OF THE SHEEPSHOOTERS’ WAR

Between 1895 and 1906, conflict raged in central Oregon as Cattlemen fought Sheep Herders over grazing rights on open rangeland. So-called “Sheepshooter Associations” were known to raid flocks they deemed to be grazing on cattle lands.

On the night of April 21, 1904, a company of seven masked men attacked a herd corralled in this crater, killing more than 1,200 sheep. Of the herd’s three tenders, two escaped, but the assailants left Julius Escallier bound on the frozen ground. By the time the others returned the next day with help, Escallier had succumbed to the elements.

Only one of the attackers, Hywel Upjohn, was ever identified. Charged with manslaughter and property destruction, he was freed after the jury deadlocked and the district attorney declined to retry the case.

The range wars came to an end with the establishment of grazing allotments by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 1971, the Oregon Legislature established Julius Escallier Crater State Park in memory of the valiant shepherd.