If you ask the general public about the term "cattle drive" many of them would reference the "old west." However, cattle drives still very much exist today, right here in Spanish Fork, Utah. This cattle drive happens three times a year, usually the first three Thursdays in October. Quite some years ago, there were around 6,000 head of cattle on the drive; now, because of the forestry cuts, there are only about 2,200 head.
It used to be a big family affair to drive the cattle up the canyon and now it is all done by truck. This usually takes place around the first of June. The cattle are branded and earmarked before they are hauled up the canyon. When the cattle are in the mountains two herders are hired to herd them. Then the drives to gather the cattle and bring them home take place around the first of October. The cattle are driven from the Strawberry Ridge to Sterling Hollow.
Few people know much about cattle drives or what takes place during them. I had the opportunity to go on one with my grandpa, Jesse Warren, this month. It is truly an experience I won't forget. The Thursday that I attended, we started with cool weather that quickly turned to stormy. The cowboys and cowgirls riding the horses were soaked by the end of the day. They start in Diamond Fork Canyon and herd the cattle down the road and out onto the highway.
Once the cattle are out on the highway it becomes a bigger event. As the cattle are being pushed down the canyon on the side of the highway the sheriffs stay to the side of them constantly rotating from front to back. Behind them about 200 feet, there are 2 vehicles with signs slowing the traffic. A cattle drive is a neat event, especially if you can be a part of it.
One of the eldest cowboys on the cattle drive is Ted 'Rosy' Larson. Even though he can't ride saddleback, he drives up in his truck and follows behind them. It's truly a fun event for all the families and older cowboys to go, gathering their cattle and reminiscing. We would like to express appreciation for John Mecham who, even after a scare last year, still gets up on his horse and rides down the canyon with the rest of the riders; that tells you just how strong these cowboys and cowgirls are.
This cattle drive has been and will continue to be part of a lifelong livelihood for ranchers and farmers in Spanish Fork, Palmyra, Benjamin, Lake Shore, Salem, and even Mapleton. Some of the families that have been a part of this cattle drive are the Larsons, Moneys, Williams', Christensens, Mechams, Edmunds, Swensens, Hansens, Balseys, Vincents, Petersons, Argyles, and the Neilsens. We would like to direct appreciation to these families and any that we may have missed who were or are a part of these cattle drives. We are also very grateful for and miss the men and women who have passed on that used to be a part of these yearly events. And finally we would like to say thank you to the sheriff's office and highway patrol for all of the help they have given us throughout the years.