BPOE 433, Part 2 – The Early Days

Chapter 2 – The Early Days

La Grande Lodge No. 433 did not grow very much for several years after its institution, but in 1901 T. N. Murphy, Charles Goodnough and H. Peare determined to place La Grande Lodge in its proper position in Elkdom. So began a diligent membership campaign. T. N. Murphy was elected Exalted Ruler that year and his efforts to increase our membership were very successful and he was reelected for a second term but he declined. Member count was 140 Brothers.

During 1902 under Exalted Ruler Murphy’s direction, the Lodge rented an upstairs room in the Sherwood Williams Building and created a Lodge room for their meetings and also furnished a recreational room for social activities. These rooms were rented to other groups and organizations to help with our finances. Jake Gulling told of hearing a financial report read on the Lodge floor the night he was initiated. Our Lodge owed $600.00 and the treasurer reported a total in the bank of 63 cents. He asked “What have I got myself joined up with?”

On February 22, 1901 our Lodge held its first Annual Washington’s Birthday Banquet and Ball. This was a grand formal affair with the Brothers in tuxedos and the ladies in their formal dresses. It was the first of its kind in La Grande and became the leading social event in the city. The price of tickets was the unheard of price of $5.00 per couple. The intention was to make it an entirely unique affair and it most certainly was. The banquet was held in our own Lodge room, catered by Abe Sommer who furnished everything in liquid and solid food that your heart could desire. The ball was held in the Stewart Opera House after the delicious banquet. These annual banquets and balls celebrating George Washington’s Birthday always lost money for the Lodge but it was worth it to gain new members and collect back dues.

Brother E. W. Bartlett was Exalted Ruler for two terms, 1898-1899 and 1899-1900. Dr. Nicholas Molitor was elected Exalted Ruler for 1900-1901. He was followed in 1901-1902 by Thomas N. Murphy. In April, 1902, Brother J. H. Peare was elected Exalted Ruler. With the aid of his officers and the enthusiastic membership the Lodge roster climbed to 220 Brothers.

At this time the Kiddies Christmas candy/gift program became the charitable work of our Lodge and the community was impressed.

Brother Charles Goodnough was elected Exalted Ruler for 1903-1904. Jake Gulling was elected for 1904-1905 and our membership continued to increase. F. S. Ivanhoe was elected Exalted Ruler for 1905-1906 and it was apparent that the Lodge facilities were over crowded. E. W. Davis was elected ER in 1906-1907 and during this year a decision was made that the Lodge should own its own home. During the term of W. B. Sargent as Exalted Ruler, 1907-1908, a committee was appointed to find such a site available for our Lodge. On January 30, 1908, the committee recommended that the Lodge buy the lots now occupied by the Spaeth Building. This was voted and approved and the lots were purchased for $1500.00 with the expectation that we build our Temple there in the near future.

C. S. Dunn became Exalted Ruler for 1908-1909. It was during his term of office that an opportunity arose to purchase two lots on the corner of Depot and Washington streets on which stood a building built by the La Grande Commercial Club. The Lodge voted to buy this offering for $9500.00 and use the present building for our Lodge Temple. It later became the home for the Eagles Lodge. In order to handle the purchase and payments in a business like manner, a building committee was appointed. The Lodge had been prospering from liquor sales so some money had been saved. Exalted Ruler Dunn appointed a committee of five who would work with the trustees and elected officers. They would be in charge of getting plans for remodeling the building for Lodge purposes and arranging plans to finance this project and selling the lots we already owned. This committee was ordered to report progress on the project once a month on the floor of the Lodge.

In 1908, after our Lodge had voted to buy the Commercial Club Building and lots, the building committee sold stock to our members to complete the $9500.00 purchase price. The building was remodeled to suit our needs and in October of 1908 a house-warming celebration was held (all kinds of food and drinks). It was a hot time in the old town that night.

Brother H. E. Coolidge followed C. S. Dunn as Exalted Ruler in 1909-1910. Brother Coolidge was a banker and he was instrumental in setting up a bookkeeping system and proposing a budget for the yearly income and expenses.

Dr. G. L. Biggers was elected Exalted Ruler for 1910-1911. It is interesting to note he was appointed by the Grand Exalted Ruler to serve as District Deputy for Eastern Oregon for the years 1911-1912. Brother W. C. Hesse was our first steward (or club manager) and he held that position until his death.

Henry Ritter became Exalted Ruler in 1911-1912 and our membership continued to grow. T. Scroggins was elected to the position 0f Exalted Ruler in 1912-1913. It was becoming apparent that our membership was beginning to crowd 0ur quarters again, as our members in good standing were almost 300.

La Grande Elks Lodge No. 433 was successful in their efforts to obtain a small herd of elk from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in February, 1911. They came through La Grande in cattle cars on their way to Enterprise where they were loaded into wagons and hauled to a release at Billy Meadows.

In 1910, our Lodge received a letter from the Grand Exalted Ruler referring to the deep snow in Wyoming and that many elk were dying because of the extreme, difficult conditions of this particular winter. Dr. G. L. Biggers was Exalted Ruler and he appointed a committee to take up this matter with our Representative in Congress, Brother N. K. Sinnott. We wanted permission to bring some of these noble animals to Oregon. The committee members were: J. H. Peare, T. J. Scroggins, H. E. Coolidge and Nate Zweifel. Negotiations went along smoothly and in the late winter of 1911 our Lodge got permission to transplant 14 cows and one bull in Eastern Oregon. The game commission worked with our Lodge in determining where to release these elk. They had been running an experiment at Billy Meadows in Wallowa County and had fenced off a 600 acre tract of land to determine the effect of cattle grazing on the range. It was agreed to turn them loose inside this enclosure. If it would keep cattle out, it surely would keep the elk in (or so they thought!). The elk came through La Grande in cattle cars. At that time there was a Union Pacific stockyard here. The elk were parked by the stockyard where there was a ramp that people could walk up along the cattle car to see what an elk looked like. There had been lots of publicity about this project in the papers and in the schools. Hundreds of Union County people came. The schools dismissed at noon so the children could come and view the elk. At this time of year the bull had shed his antlers so they all looked the same. Our Brothers named the bull “Taft”. The cattle cars were taken to Joseph on the Oregon Navigation Railroad Line (called ONRL at that time). When they reached Joseph they were loaded into wagons with tops on them and pulled by 4 horse teams, made their way to Billy Meadows. Several of our Brothers made the trip to Billy Meadows with the elk.

La Grande Lodge No. 433 passed a resolution as follows:

“As the United States government has entrusted to us 11 head of elk for the purpose of propagation;  Resolved: We deem it our duty to protect these elk in the State of Oregon. A reward of $650.00 will be offered for the conviction of anyone caught poaching these elk.”

You can see how the Brothers felt about these noble animals. The beautiful bull elk of the herd, “Taft” was the undisputed leader until 1932 when one of his sons named Tarazan, then ten years younger, challenged the leader of the herd. In the ensuing fight to the death, Tarazan was killed by Taft. This battle occurred at the head of Wallowa Lake. Taft became so mean and dangerous that he had to be killed a year later. The mounted head of Taft is displayed above the station of the Esteemed Leading Knight in La Grande’s Lodge room. Tarazan, the son of Taft, is displayed above the station of the Esteemed Lecturing Knight. Teddy, a Roosevelt elk, was one of a small herd of native Canadian prairie Pacific Northwest elk that migrated into Eastern Oregon around 1900. PER Dr. G. L. Biggers bagged this elk in the upper Grande Ronde area in 1911. He had it mounted and presented it to our Lodge. His head is displayed above the station of the Esteemed Loyal Knight. La Grande Lodge No. 433 can be extremely proud of its part in the history of these beautiful elk and were fortunate to acquire these trophy heads for display in our Lodge room.

Under the leadership of Henry Ritter (1911-1912) as Exalted Ruler a drive was started to attend the Grand Lodge sessions in Portland in the summer of 1912. In August, 1911, a committee was appointed to make arrangements for our attendance at these sessions. The report of the committee was that the cost per person to attend the session would be $40.00. Ten dollars of that would be for a uniform. A list was begun and members had to put up $10.00 over their signature that they would go or forfeit their $10.00.

A motion was made to take along a 24 piece band at a cost of $100.00. There were 100 members on the train when it left for Portland. A baggage car was rented and put in line as the refreshment center with all the ingredients of pre-prohibition days to make the trip enjoyable. The Brothers had a marvelous time and returned home without anybody being lost or injured.

This was an enthusiastic, growing Lodge in 1912.

PR Railroad Announces Eagle Cap Excursion Train Schedule

Wallowa Union Railroad Announces Excursion Train 2011 Schedule

ELGIN, OREGON__The Wallowa Union Railroad Authority has announced the 2011 schedule for the Eagle Cap Excursion Train, just in time for last-minute holiday gift giving. The season kicks off with the always popular Mother’s Day Brunch, May 8, departing from the Elgin boarding site at 10 a.m. The meal is catered by Ten Depot Street Restaurant of La Grande. Prices for this train trip are youth, $40; Adult, $80; and Senior, $70. The ticket price includes brunch, with beverages.

The regular season begins June 25, a train ride rumored to attract horseback-riding robbers and damsels in distress. Some excursions have live music by cast members from Elgin Opera House musical productions. Passengers can always expect beautiful scenery and a friendly atmosphere.

2011 Season Schedule:  Saturdays

May 8, Mother’s Day Brunch
June 25
July 2, 16, & 30
August 13 & 27
September 10, 17, & 24
October 1 & 15

All excursions depart from Elgin at 10 a.m. for a 3.5 hour trip along the beautiful shores of the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers. The train ride travels through remote river canyons that can’t be seen from any road. Towering ridges, basalt cliffs, deep green forests and sparkling water are the scenic highlights. Wildlife and waterfowl are also plentiful. Ticket prices are:  youth, 3 to 16 = $35 / adults = $75 / seniors 60+ = $65. Lunch is included. Gift certificates are available and reservations can be made by contacting Alegre Travel, 1.800.323.7330 or 541.963.9000, or travel@alegretravel.com.

The railroad, in partnership with the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that provides the volunteer crew and assists with maintenance and upgrading of rolling stock, plans to restore excursion capacity to around 150 passengers by the beginning of the season. They will do so by refurbishing the 1938 Budd coach car that has been out of service for a few years.

For additional information and photos, go to www.eaglecaptrain.com. The Eagle Cap Excursion Train is owned and operated by Wallowa Union Railroad (WURR) on a stretch of the historic “Joseph Branch” in northeast Oregon. WURR is assisted by the Friends of the Joseph Branch, a non-profit organization that preserves and presents the history and enjoyment of the century-old rail line in Wallowa and Union Counties.

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Janet E. Dodson
Eagle Cap Excursion Train Sunnyslope Marketing, LLC
North Powder, Oregon 97867

BPOE 433, Part 1 – The Beginning


I recently came across a small book titled “Discarded Antlers” by J. Dale Standley that chronicles the history of BPOE 433 (Elks Lodge) in La Grande. In many ways, the history of the Elks is the history of La Grande and in the early days the Elks included the most influential men in town. Throughout the history of La Grande they’ve had an important influence for good through their leadership and philanthropy.

I’m presenting the history here as a series. Today is part one.

– Jay Mackley

… by J. Dale Standley


In April of 1988, after the installation of Exalted Ruler William Fitzgerald, I was asked to be the Lodge History Committee Charirman. As our La Grande Lodge had been instituted 90 years earlier, in 1898, I accepted the offer.

As I studied the minute books, which had been water damaged during the fire, I began to piece together a chonological account of BPOE No. 433 history. I read one page of the account at each Thursday night meeting and it was well recieved by the Brothers attending Lodge. I also put a page in each Antlered Herd newsletter under the heading of “Discarded Antlers”.

It was by the suggestion of many Brother Elk members that I decided to put it into book form and sell it. The net proceeds will go to our national Elks foundation Scholarship program for the benefit of the youth of our nation.

I appreciate the help given me by one of our oldest members, Brother Victor Eckley, who is the Past Exalted ruler, Past Trustee, and Past District Deputy Grande Exalted Ruler. He was postmaster in La Grande for many years and before that Vic was our representitive in our Oregon Congress. Therefore, I dedicate the book to him.

Chapter 1 – The Beginning

In the fall of 1887 several young men in La Grande became interested in forming a lodge of BPO Elks in our city. Their interest was being fanned by the enthusiasm for the Elks Lodge by the men in Pendleton which had been organized within the previous two years.

One of the most enthusiastic men who joined the Pendleton Lodge was a railroad conductor, Ed Murphy. Another member of the Pendleton Lodge who worked hard to form La Grande Lodge was the manager of the mill at Perry. His name was Fred Stanley. He later was elected to represent Union County in Salem.

The necessary number of names were finally obtained. Application for a Lodge Charter was made early in 1898. On April 11,1898. Grande Exalted Ruler R. B. Detweiler granted our charter. He directed District Deputy Grande Exalted Ruler for Oregon Col. Mitchell of Portland No. 142 to proceed with the organization of our Lodge which was given No. 433.

Portland lodge No. 142 Grande Lodge officers who were going to initiate our Charter Members and institute La Grande Lodge No. 433 arrived in la Grande by train on the early morning of Saturday, May 14, 1898.

Notices had prviously been sent to all signers of the proposed membership list to be present at the Knights of Pythias Hall located in the Thorsen-Melquist Building, across the street from our present Lodge home. The Knights of Pythias Hall later housed the Standard Laundry.

After the prelimianry work of investigation was finished and the applications were completed, 40 candidates were initiated by Acting Grande Exalted Ruler Solis Cohn, assisted by Acting Grande Esquire Henry Griffin who had as his assistant a Baker City Elk who was well known to La Grande, Phil Nebergall.

Three of the Brothers were singled out to receive the Second Degree (J. Van Buren, George Beidleman, and Frank Geiser), much to their dismay but adding to the enjoyment of the rest of the Brothers.

After the initiation the Acting Grande Lodge Officers from Portland No. 142 instituted the Brotherhood of Protective Order of Elks No 433 of La Grande, Oregon.

After 40 candidates had been initiated, the Lodge was instituted, and we recieved our Charter, an election of officers took place.

Brother E. W. Bartlett was elected as our first Exalted Ruler. Nicholas Molitor was elected as Leading Knight.

That evening the first Elks banquet was held at Sommers Hotel and no better meal was ever served than by Abe Sommers. That night the liquor and wine may have brought on prohibition!

Judge Bill Smith was the Master of Ceremony at the banquet and he kept things moving at a never-a-dull-moment pace. The party broke up about daylight then the Brothers from Portland got on the early morning train without much sleep.

When the manager of the Sommer Hotel Bar counted the money in the slot machines he found seven $5.00 gold pieces in his count. No one ever admitted to making such a mistake.

To be continued… Chapter 2 – The Early Days

Shop Local

The Best Bargains Could Be Just Around The Corner

Lake Oswego, Ore. – Nov. 24, 2010 – On the brink of Black Friday, Nov. 26, and Cyber Monday, Nov. 29—when consumers are heavily bombarded with advertising from major retailers—Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to shop local too. Nov. 27 is Small Business Saturday.

“We’re so used to hearing about the large stores that we often forget about the little guys,” says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “We forget how rewarding it is to spend dollars locally with trusted neighborhood businesses… It’s a good feeling.”

Although purchasing online is relatively easy, buying local has its own perks. Community-based businesses are often interested in building relationships and keeping customers; subsequently, they are typically accountable, available and easy to locate if an item needs to be returned or exchanged. Additionally, if it’s really local, items can be inspected in-person with no delivery issues or shipping charges.

BBB offers the following tips on shopping local:

  • Take a walk—or a drive—around the neighborhood. Gift cards are great, but window shopping can help stimulate gift ideas. Stop in to businesses you pass during the daily commute. Unexpected deals may be waiting.
  • Ask a friend, coworker or family member. They may have a favorite boutique or shop to share.
  • Find businesses through Better Business Bureau. Search BBB’s Accredited Business Directory; consumers can limit results by zip code. Additionally, request a free printed copy ofBBB’s Yellow Pages.
  • Look for a company invested in the community. Besides BBB, consumers can also turn to a local Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau or other business membership organization—which may indicate a business’ commitment to its community. These organizations often have membership directories filled with businesses by city and/or county.
  • Look at coupons. Discount cards and coupons might get overlooked in the mail or online, but look closely at deals. Coupons help connect consumers to local businesses they might not know about.

BBB recommends doing preliminary research on products, services and businesses before making purchases. Comparison shop and read product reviews. Always verify business licensing with the state and check out companies at www.bbb.org.

For More Information Contact:
Kyle Kavas, Oregon Public Relations Manager
503.212.3022 – ext. 402 | pr@thebbb.org


About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington: Better Business Bureau is a neutral not-for-profit organization with the mission to advance marketplace trust. BBB is supported by BBB Accredited Businesses and provides ethical business standards, BBB Reliability Reports, Charity Review Reports, complaint handling, marketplace events and tips. For more information, contact BBB or visit www.bbb.org.

LHS: Classic Opera Love Triangle

La Grande High School will be performing “Aida” on December 2, 3rd and 4th at 7PM in the high school auditorium. This is the classic opera love triangle in an Egyptian era, but performed as the Elton John version, so needless to say it ROCKS!! There is  murder & music, passion, poison & power, true love, singing & dancing.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults.


NORTH POWDER, OREGON__The Anthony Lakes Ski Area will open this Friday, December 3, at 9 a.m. The ski area received lots of new snow over the weekend and is expecting a big storm today. It has a 28″ base, with powder over packed powder. The ski area is located 19 miles west of North Powder, high in the peaks of the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday; open daily during Christmas and Spring Breaks, closed Christmas Day. Go to www.anthonylakes.com for additional information.

Ski area manager Rick Pignone says the snow quality is good and anticipation is high for a successful season. “Our crew and volunteers have been busy preparing the resort for the season and we are pumped!” said Pignone. “The skiing is going to be awesome!” Pignone reports there is a lot of extra enthusiasm throughout northeast Oregon, in light of the public ownership. “People who skied here while growing up are coming back and continuing their family tradition of skiing at Anthony Lakes.”

In addition to the alpine lifts and Day Lodge opening for alpine skiers and boarders, the Nordic ski center is also ready for business with 9 km of groomed Nordic lanes. Snow cat tours for skiing the backside of the mountain will be available when snow conditions allow.

As an enticement for returning to the mountain, daily lift ticket prices have been reduced this year, with adult tickets costing just $35 this season, down from $39 last season. The website has the full pricing list. And, the popular “Half-price Thursdays” are back. Pre-formed groups of 15 or more skiers can arrange in advance for additional savings. For ticket and group information contact Trish Brinton, Operations Manager, 541.856.3277 x 16, trishb@anthonylakes.com, or visit www.anthonylakes.com.

Boasting the highest base level in Oregon (7,100 feet), Anthony Lakes is famous for dry powder snow, exceptional scenery and a family-friendly atmosphere. On October 1, 2010, citizens became the new owners of the Anthony Lakes Ski Area, when the previous owners of the resort gifted the operation to Baker County.  Baker County formed the Baker County Development Corporation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) that oversees operation of the resort.  To reach the ski area take exit 285 off Interstate 84, at North Powder, between Baker City and La Grande. Anthony Lakes operates under a special-use permit from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer.

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Janet E. Dodson

Anthony Lakes Ski Area

Marketing Director

Sunnyslope Marketing, LLC

PO Box 187

North Powder, Oregon 97867


LaGrandeONLINE.com Launches new Website

Welcome to the new LaGrandeONLINE.com! This site has been upgraded. Most of the prior features are still available plus more!

Community news and information is available and a new series on La Grande history is scheduled to be on the front page.

Hope you enjoy the new LaGrandeONLINE. Feel free to leave comments for others in our community to enjoy!