In Fall 2009 the Lewis & Clark College Special Collections made arrangements with the Jefferson County Historical Society and Ronald McDonald, the current owner of Hay Creek Ranch, for Special Collections to borrow the extensive and historic Hay Creek Ranch papers for the purpose of organizing and properly preserving the priceless collection. This agreement created a unique practicum opportunity for L&C senior, Nathalie Figueroa ’10. During the Spring 2010 semester, Nathalie processed the collection, completed a finding aid, and compiled a historical report highlighting the major events of the historic Oregon ranch. The collection consists of a wide array of documents and materials, including deeds, abstracts, contracts, financial records, and maps that bring to light the operations and the development of one of the nations largest sheep and livestock companies.
Located in the heart of the Ochoco Mountains, Hay Creek Ranch extended over 79 miles and over 70,000 acres of central Oregon. Established in 1873 by Dr. David E. Baldwin, the ranch continued to expand and develop under the hands of several prominent Portland businessmen. It wasn’t until the turn of the century, however, that Hay Creek Ranch became internationally renown for its superior “Sanderson strain” Rambouillet sheep. Recognized as the finest wool and mutton sheep of the world, the Hay Creek Ranch sheep were exported throughout Europe and parts of Asia as well as Soviet Russia in what was one of the nation’s largest foreign shipments.
Now that this project is complete, the collection will be returned to the Jefferson County Historical Society. Researchers and students interested in learning more about Hay Creek Ranch can view a finding aid for the collection in the Northwest Digital Archives Database http://nwda.wsulibs.wsu.edu. Students interested in a practicum similar to this project should contact Doug Erickson, Head of Special Collection, at email@example.com or 503-768-7254 for more information. Positions are limited, but according to Nathalie Figueroa, working with historical documents can be interesting and enjoyable way to gain practical work experience.