The History of the 


 Stampede Train Car 72 dpi Bright


Years ago, local citizen’s made plans to stage spectacular days of the old west and bring visitors and champion cowboys from the far ends of the country to their unique little town for a chance to relive the Wild West in a gala weekend celebration. Possibly a forerunner to the Stampede were the Jubilee Celebrations of the early 30's, the fourth annual such event was held on Labor Day weekend in 1935.   

Another  such big celebration  was the Wedding  of  the Waters (see Video Below)  in late October of 1937  when the Death  Valley-Mt. Whitney  highway  program  saw many  honored  notables  present,  including Governor Merriam. This  pageant  was unique  in  California  and was highlighted   by water  brought  from  Tulainyo  lake and carried to Death  Valley in a spectacular  observance, culminated  with  a fireball  by beacon fires from  Mt. Whitney  signaling the completion of the fete and opening of the highway. Although   not rodeos these were fine community performances, and drew many visitors to the locale.

Then in April of 1941, through the efforts and community spirit of a few local citizens, the first big show of rodeo fame was instigated. Wilfred Cline, stockman, and one of the leading rodeo stockmen in both California and Nevada and the late Russell Spainhower, Southern Inyo rancher and cattleman, started the ball rolling for what became a traditional spring event to celebrate Southern Inyo's  cowboy and ranching heritage. Stock for  the  rodeo  was provided  by Cline  and  by a  unanimous vote, at a meeting called for organization, Spainhower  was elected Stampede  president, a position  he held for nine consecutive years. Directors included Ben Baker, Howard Miller, Fred Reynolds, Otto "Slim" Honerlah, Ted Cook and Wesley Logan. Walter Jones was elected secretary-treasurer, a post he filled continuously for 21 years. Announcer for the first rodeo was Jack Hopkins.

In the beginning the rodeos were held on what was known as the town ball park and as they continued to gain momentum (and became an “RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association) approved rodeo plans materialized for a formal Rodeo grounds. The new location (behind where the Lone Pine Film History Museum currently stands) was considered one of the best.  Hundreds of persons were able to be  seated  on  the  fine grandstands and monies from the annual shows provided necessary funds for maintenance and continued improvement of the grounds to maintain the highest standards.

Rodeo events included: calf roping, bareback bronc riding, team roping, saddle-bronc riding, steer-stopping (a privilege of Inyo-Mono registered brand owners only), and bulldogging. Later years included presentations by the Bishopettes (a women’s western riding club based in Bishop), a water ski act, (Diaz Lake) steer wrestling, a girl’s barrel race, and bull riding.  One local resident recalls Slim Pickens was the rodeo clown for numerous Stampedes. Sponsors included the local Lloyd’s Shoe Store, Joseph’s BiRite Market, J.C. Penney Co, Wrangler Jeans, and numerous others.

As the Stampede continued to grow and become more widely known amongst the professionals, such top-notch names in the rodeo world as Casey Tibbs, Rex Connley, Bill Linderman, Ross Dollarhide, Chuck Shepard, Don Adams, Lawson Fore, Bill Hogue, Enoch Walker, famed Canadian cowboy, appeared on the rodeo program. Among other notables who have added much to the local shows with their stellar performances have been Joaquin Sanchez, Fes Reynolds and Wes Curtis. 

Let us not forget  that  along with  these professionals, our  local  businessmen have  contributed  much  in  making  these shows the pride of the community.  Following the nine year term of Russell Spainhower as president, by-laws were amended to read a one year term for each president and beginning in 1951. Directors included the following citizens as leaders of the Stampede Inc.: Jack Hopkins (announcer for the first rodeo), Ben Baker, Fred Reynolds, Tom Noland, Norvil Aigner, Henry Olivas, Lefty Edmonston, C. M. Richards, Bob Rutherford, Gwen Gardner, Bud Slater and Joe Bonham. Other  names, to mention  a few, who have played major  roles in the successful celebrations  are Otto "Slim" Honerlah, Frank  Chrysler,  Ted  Cook, John  Morris, Howard  Miller and Wesley Logan. Walter Jones was elected secretary-treasurer, a post he filled continuously for 21 years. 

By 1955, the Stampede program included Lone Pine versus Independence baseball, a parade, the stampede dance, and the coronation of a Stampede Queen. Community women coveted the crown for the "Stampede Queen" and young belles vied for the honor. Jean Noland served as one of the first queens, and the tradition spanned the duration of the Stampede. The 1973 program includes winners for Stampede Princess and “Little Miss Rodeo” contests.

Many years of celebrations listed scores of activities in conjunction with the rodeo: First class parade competitions for prizes with as many as seven bands performing and trophies in up to 19 categories; whiskerino contests with intense rivalry, sponsored by the Lions Club; and outstanding pet parades for the kiddies. “Carnivals too came in for a share in the excitement; a businessmen's burro race for several years was a stimulating part of the annual weekend; barbecues of highest quality were staged by local organizations and drew hundreds of guests.”

The 1964 program announced the passing of Slim Honerlah, “…a man who lived his life out with honor, dignity, and truth. His help to the Lone Pine Stampede was an inspiration that kept the show alive throughout the years.”  The continued support of Spainhower and Cline, and the contributions of countless others resulted in the Stampede becoming the pride of the community. After Spainhower’s nine-year term as president, by-laws were amended to limit presidential terms to one year. 

In 1963 the Stampede show was changed to a non-professional type show due to the increasing cost of procuring stock and professional participation. The 1964 show followed the same pattern with some new innovations including… participation of the newly locally formed - Lone Pine Stampede Roping club. The organizers in 1964 indicated to the community that “plans are under way to stage other events throughout the year including a quarter horse show in the fall.” After approximately 30 years of being a community institution, the Lone Pine Stampede eventually stopped.   Staff at The Lone Pine Film History Museum, with community encouragement and support, hope to reinstate this beloved event.

As stated in the 1964 Silver Anniversary program, “What more picturesque setting could any arena boast than the spectacular snow clad peaks of Mt. Whitney fronted by the pictorial Alabamas for a contrasting background? Where in these United States could this be equaled?” 

We are working to scan all the Programs we have available. Click Below

Lone Pine Stampede Program 1944

Lone Pine Stampede Program 1945
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1946
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1947

Lone Pine Stampede Program 1948
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1949
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1950
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1951
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1952
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1953
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1954
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1955
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1956
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1957
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1958
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1960
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1961
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1962
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1964
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1965
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1966
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1967
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1968
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1969
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1970
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1971
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1972
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1973
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1974
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1975
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1976
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1977
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1978
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1979
Lone Pine Stampede Program 1980

In 1937, an amazing three-day event took place to celebrate the opening of a new road from Lone Pine to Death Valley. A gourd was filled with water from the highest lake in the U.S. on the side of Mt. Whitney. A trip commenced using all modes of important California transportation--Native American runner, Pony Express, miner and burro, 20-mule team, stagecoach, train, car and plane. With many famous participants, the water finally arrived at the lowest lake in the U.S, Bad Water Death Valley, and was poured in, thus consummating the Wedding of the Waters. Join Huell and Luis 60 years later as they recreate this historic event with a few people who were there the first time, many descendants of the original participants and tons of vintage photos and films on this incredible piece of "California's Gold."

Radio Show

Aug 12, 1999  
Wedding of the Waters-California’s Gold (110) California's Gold In 1937 an amazing 3 day event took place to celebrate the opening of a new road from Lone Pine to Death Valley. Starting with a gourd full of water taken from the highest lake in the U.S. on the side of Mt. Whitney, the gourd is taken to the lowest lake in the US – Bad Water in Death Valley. Using all modes of important California transportation (Indian runner, Pony Express, miner & burro, 20 mule team, stagecoach, train, car, and plane) with many famous participants, the water is finally poured in, thus consummating the wedding. Join Huell and Luis 60 years later as they recreate this amazing event, with many descendants, a few people who were there the 1st time, tons of vintage photos and films on this incredible piece of California’s Gold.