District No. 0460

How First Elk Herd Was Brought To Arizona

Reprint of article taken from the BPOE Elks No. 536 publication of the Meteor published October 1955 in Winslow.

(We wish to thank Brother O C Eldridge for his time and effort used in getting together the information in this article)

The name "Elk" is one from the Old World, while the true name "Wapiti" stems from the Shawnee Indian tongue. The transplanting of the Cervus Canedensis is a stimulating story enriched with the fulfillment of vision, dreams and courage.

In the August 1912 issue of Outdoor Life Magazine there was an article entitled "Trapping and Shipping Elk" authored by a Dr. Shore. A Young frontier doctor, R N Looney, member of the Elks Lodge in Prescott, Arizona, read with avid interest the factual report of the trapping and transferring to other suitable localities of elk from the Northern herd in Yellowstone Park. There an idea was born and Dr. Looney immediately contacted Dr. Shore for further data on the feasibility of starting a herd in the Northern Arizona Sitgreaves forest. Mr. E W Nelson, head of the US Biological Survey, now Fish and Wildlife Commission, rendered his support to the idea and put Dr. Looney in touch with the Boone and Crockett Club of New York (Teddy Roosevelt, first president) who gave very valuable assistance and advise as to the class of elk to ship (age, sex) and how they should be handled after they arrived on their new range. They even expressed a desire to stand the expense of this experiment in Arizona, provided a permit could be secured. Contact was also established with a Mr. Anderson of Gardnier, Montana, who would be in charge of capturing the elk if the authorization for the same was forthcoming.

Armed with all the necessary data, Dr. Looney consulted George W P Hunt, first Governor of Arizona, for official sanction, and after gaining the Governor's full support, they enlisted the able support of Senator Henry F Ashurst. With these letters of introduction, the venerable doctor went to Washington to petition the U S Department of Interior for a permit. The secretary was so favorably impressed by the enthusiasm, plans and effort that he immediately granted a permit for eighty head.

It was during this negotiating and capturing that Mr. Mulford Winsor, Past Exalted Ruler of Yuma Lodge No. 476, acting on behalf of Elk's clubs of the state, contacted Dr. Looney and petitioned him to let the Elks of Arizona adopt this as their project. This was agreed upon and Brother Winsor activated the committee and started campaigning for funds to effect this noble and tremendous task.

The elk were corralled near Gardnier, Montana, under the supervision of Mr. Anderson and evenly divided into rail cars. They left for Winslow on February 16, 1913. It might be noted here that while records in the National Archives of the United States reveal 80 head were authorized September 24,1912 and shipped January 31, 1913, the actual number loaded was 86 head and were shipped about February 16, 1913 (according to Dr. Looney). The original authorization or permit, or copy of same, is not on file at any Government department, and therefore presumed lost.

They were shipped double first class, traveling 24 hours and resting the same period accompanied by a hired ($10.00 per day) competent keeper the entire distance to Winslow, Arizona.

About 9:00am on the morning of February 28, 1913, the elk arrived in Winslow a No. 33 train, engine 845. The crew as follows. Engineer S W Proctor, Conductor B A Rohles and Brakeman D B Crozer (other crewmembers unknown). They were transferred to the Santa Fe stockyards where the Elks of Winslow assumed charge with the capable assistance of Brother Charles C Moyer, who wrangled and handled them from corral to area of transplanting. All these arrangements were worked out by the Elks' Club, then located over the Palace of Sweets on Second Street, at which time Brother W J Crozer was Exalted Ruler and Jonnie Bauer was Secretary.

It should be remembered here that Lodge No. 536 handled and worked out all the details with the committee. To them fell the burden of caring for the elk while in Winslow and getting them to their new home, plus making all arrangements for transporting them to the forest and building facilities for them at their destination, Cabin Draw. The men who were active in this project are many, so we shall just admire the efficiency of Winslow Lodge in carrying out this tremendous task.

In this eighty-six head of elk, there were four (4) grown cows, fourteen (14) bulls, sixty-eight (68) heifer yearlings. Of this entire herd, two (2) were lost, one (1) enroute and one (1) at the corral at the R C Creswell summer camp at Cabin Draw. This left a total of eighty-four (84) head turned loose in the Sitgreaves Forest forty-five (45) miles south of Winslow, Arizona.

I will quote Brother Charles C Moyer, who was in charge of this operation from the stockyards to the area of transplanting:

"We allowed these elk to stay in the pens at the stockyard for twelve (12) days where they were watched and fed and allowed time to rest in preparation for the trip South to their new home."

"Brother Charles Daze furnished most of the work horses and wagons, (which were built up with side boards including the top in crate form). In all there were twelve (12) wagons, eleven (11) men, twenty-four (24) workhorses and one (1) saddle horse. I am listing the line-up of wagons, drivers and elk."

Wagons Drivers No. Elk

2 Charles Moyer 16
2 Andrew "Windy Bob" Stencel 16
1 Jim Burkett Sr 8
1 Ernie Burkett (son) 8
1 Jess Burkett (son) 8
1 Cy Perkins Sr 8
1 Frank Perkins (son) 8
1 Frank Ketchum 6
1 Leonard Fenton 4
1 Charlie Roberts 4

"One swamper, Bony Duran with a saddle horse."

"We certainly had a hard time loading the elk into the crated wagons. After they were loaded, we left the wagons in the pens overnight to be certain the crates would hold. The men that had private wagons slept with their wagons".

"During the night the wind came up, bitter and cold, and at 4:00 am on March 13, 1913, we started to roll south. All day it was windy, cold and cloudy. It was a hard drag on the teams and men as they were facing the biting wind all the way to our first stay over, the Spellmire and Lyons shearing camp."

"It was getting late when we hit camp and was dark from heavy, threatening clouds with an increasing wind. The camp was located twenty-five (25) miles out of Winslow."

"I took the first three hour guard. After that we were up most of the night as the elk were very restless. As I remember it started sleeting about 2:00 am and between 4:00 and 5:00 am, when we started on our last leg of the journey, the snow had piled up a couple of inches. I can remember how cold it was and the wind was blowing snow right in our faces, which caused much discomfort to men and horses. The nearer we approached Cabin Draw, the deeper the snow was. However, when we entered the pine timber, the wind abated some but the snow was still coming down hard."

"The two lead teams took turns breaking the road. Our single teams with eight head in each wagon so our swamper with his saddle horse had to help them out on hills. He did this by tying his rope to the wagon tongue and a hitch to his saddle horn, making quite a booster and very necessary as the weather was becoming worse. We then had a report that we had a calf down in one of the wagons. However, we did not stop as the teams were tiring and it would be most difficult to start once we had stopped. When we tipped the hill into Cabin Draw, it was all downhill two miles to Creswell Ranch, which was the designated area to turn the elk herd loose. The balance of the trip we encountered snow about ten inches deep and we pulled into the ranch about dusk."

"The Winslow Lodge had a man, Brother Roscoe Gates, waiting there for us at the corral he had built. The corral was constructed of smooth wire about seven feet high and located on the edge of a water tank where the elk could drink. Hay was distributed about the corral with some six ton in reserve."

"We backed each wagon in turn up to the corral gate and removed the tail gates from the wagons. The calves would jump as far as they could into the snow. By the time the last wagon was unloaded, we were using lanterns, and very glad the job was completed."

"The men and horses were all in, Roscoe Gates had plenty of hot coffee and beans waiting for us that night, about half the men would sit up and keep the fire burning in the fireplace while the others slept. Before turning in, I suggested that we leave as early as possible as we might get snowed in. We decided to leave just before daylight."

"That was one long, hard trip back to Winslow, taking twelve to fifteen hours. Two of the teams played out so we had to double the wagons and lead horses. The snow was about eighteen inches deep when we left Cabin Draw. Roscoe Gates stayed at the corral to feed and watch the elk and, as I remember, he stayed there thirty days. However they were fed all winter." (End of quote by Charles Moyer)

There was an article written by one of the committee members, Brother Mulford Winsor, which appeared in the Thursday evening edition of the Arizona Gazette of April 16, 1914, part of which I will quote.

"The principal danger to the animals lies in depredations by human poachers and mountain lions, the later being fairly numerous in the forest. The consequences of the activities of he lions must be accepted as a matter of course, but every effort is being made to protect the elk from the aggressions of conscienceless hunters. Thee State Game Warden, backed up by authority of the law which aims to afford complete protection to the elk, is taking an active interest in the enterprise. Brother C M Bledsoe of Winslow Lodge 536, who has played a prominent part in carrying out the undertaking since the arrival of the herd in Winslow, has been appointed a deputy game warden and his special care is Arizona's herd of elk. Other appointments have been made, of interested parties, mostly members of the Order, living in the forest, who, with the assistance of the Forest Ranger, the latter under full instructions of the department with which they are connected, will afford all the protection within their power. Since transgressions by poachers will be vigorously prosecuted by State Game Warden Frank W Rogers, and his assistants, it is believed that poaching will be effectively prevented. It is hoped, should information regarding poaching come to the attention of a member of the Order, that State Game Warden Rogers be promptly notified."

"The original herd has split into several parties but none have wandered far from the point where they were originally placed. Several of these small herds have been seen recently and it was learned that they were accompanied by a number of healthy looking calves. There is no question that the increase in numbers will be rapid and that, before many years, Arizona will possess well stocked preserves of which it may well be proud."

"From every viewpoint the enterprise appears to be an unqualified success. The elk have been transported form a long distance, placed into their new home under favorable conditions and are strong and healthy. The members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks throughout Arizona have every reason to congratulate themselves upon this practical solution of the problem of preserving the noble animal from which their Order derives its name. Our success has blazed the path for the Elks of other states, and already similar enterprises are underway elsewhere."

(Editors note of 8/16/55: U S Department of The Interior National Park Service, John E Doer, Acting Chief Division of Interpretation, informed us as follows. "Report of acting Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park for 1913 states that during the winter of 1912-13, 538 elk were shipped from Yellowstone to various locations between the months of December and March.")

"The entire expense of the undertaking was $2,125.07 covered by contributions received from eleven Arizona Lodges, the State Association, Governor George WP Hunt and Dr. R N Looney. This record has proven truly remarkable and constitutes a matter which can well be viewed with pride by every member of the Order in Arizona." (End of quote by Brother Winsor)

Dr. Looney of Prescott informed our reporter that he advanced $1000 as did Governor Hunt to finance this project and that they were reimbursed by the above mentioned Lodges after collections were made. Part of the expense has been discovered. Capturing the elk, $5.00 per head, $400.00; Freight from Gardinier, Mont., to Winslow, Ariz., $865.00; Keepers wagers $120.00; Wagon expense to Cabin Draw, $400.00. It is not known whether the Winslow Lodge was ever fully reimbursed for all the expenses incurred. The now retired frontier doctor, R N Looney, had nothing but praise for the tremendously successful manner in which the Winslow B P O E handled the transporting. He informed our reporter that "The Lodge was a veritable jewel and assumed this heavy responsibility and accomplished the feat without any difficulty despite adverse conditions and other factors."

In the Thursday evening edition, September 17, 1914, of the Arizona Gazette, State Game Warden G M Willard gave a report on the condition of the herd of elk on their new range, which I quote in part.

"According to reports reaching this office the herd must have scattered badly during the summer and fall of 1913, but nevertheless fifty-three head of them got back and wintered about fifteen miles further back in the mountains from where they were liberated. An old trapper, who has considerable experience with elk in the Northern States and who saw fifty-three head during the months of March and April of 1914, was very emphatic in the declaration that they were by long odds the finest herd of elk he ever looked upon."

"Reports indicate that at least four calves were born to he herd for the year 1913, not a bad showing, since there were only six or eight head old enough to calve."

"No depredations against the herd are reported or suspected except one having been killed and another one by Indians from the White Mountain Reservation. I think the agent among these Indians should use his influence to impress upon them the idea that the elk finding their way onto the reservation are not to be regarded as wild game, but as domestic animals, and receive the same consideration. He should exercise greater care in granting permits to leave the reservations, for unquestionably the Indians have been abusing their privilege by periodic hunting expeditions into the very region occupied most of the time by the elk. It is my aim to put a stop to the practice if I have to arrest the whole tribe. We have no report as yet of this years calves, but we expect a full crop."
(End of quote by Warden Willard)

Two days prior to this article the same Game Warden sent an application to Mr. Franklin G Lane, Secretary of the Interior, petitioning his consideration for a permit to take from the Yellowstone herd a car load (forty or fifty head) of elk to the Graham Mountains in the State of Arizona.

My deepest thanks to the following who have cooperated with me over the past few months in compiling this data: Brother Charles C Moyer of Winslow; DR. R N Looney of Prescott; Brother Mulford Winsor, Director of Library Archives for the State of Arizona; Arizona Game and Fish Commission; Brother Jess Fears of Payson; Brother Frank Ketchum of Winslow; The Honorable Stuart L Udall, Arizona Representative District No 22; U S Department of the Interior; National Park Service; U S Department of Army; Chief of Legislative Liaison; Mr. Wayne C Grover, Archives of the United States of America; Brother Charles Rapson of Winslow; Outdoor Life Magazine; Brother Lloyd Henning of Holbrook; and many others who assisted in one way or another in the gathering of this information.

This article is the result of many months of research work. We do not wish to discredit anyone or any group, as it was our intent and aim to present the facts as they were found. If we have neglected anyone in this presentation, let us assure you it was not intentional.

We might also add that the Elks Club has one of the original wagons used to haul the first elk into Arizona. This wagon can be seen where it is kept on the grounds of the Elks Club.e

Back to top
Server: www