Prince Glaze and the Lone Rangers


Last updated 2/1/2022 at Noon

Courtesy Bowman Museum

Prince Glaze and Ethel on pack horses, 1905.

He was an Oregon boy, born in the Willamette Valley in 1877, raised in Prineville, spending summer months in a cabin near Black Butte. His proud father, Tillman Glaze, saloon keeper, horse breeder, fiddler, and homesteader of Glaze Meadow, named his firstborn son “Prince Jerry Glaze.”

Prince grew up wandering in wild Central Oregon landscapes. I imagine him learning to handle a horse in the rugged juniper and sage canyons near the Crooked River and playing with his two sisters and little brother in the sweet-smelling old-growth pine groves near Indian Ford Creek during the long days of July. The entire family was known to be musical, and maybe their tunes were accompanied by nighthawks calling across Glaze Meadow on those warm summer nights.

But much of the life of Prince Glaze is lost to time. There is no easy trace of him in the history books or on the Internet. I couldn’t find stories of his childhood. There is his wedding license from 1906 and his obituary in 1946. It says he worked for the Forest Service for 15 years. We don’t know what he did with himself in Eugene in the years before he passed away. But Prince Glaze did leave us something, glimpses of his adventures long ago in the wilds of the Cascade mountains.

Why he turned away from his father’s businesses and the bustle of Prineville to choose a life in the forest for 15 years is a mystery. Maybe those summers exploring the ponderosa pine forests, meadows, and nearby icy Metolius River left a longing in him for greener country. He joined a small cadre of men with the unique skill sets needed to do the early business of managing the Cascade National Forest, later named the Santiam Forest and finally the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. The mission was to provide forest resources, including wood, as well as clean water and wildlife in perpetuity.

Prince Glaze was one of the early few working for the Forest Service in 1905, the days of the brand-new National Forest.

Steve Lent, the historian of the Prineville Bowman Museum, showed me an unusual collection of photos while I was researching the Glaze homestead on the north end of Glaze meadow.

There is a formal portrait of Prince Glaze with impeccable suit, tie, and handlebar mustache.

In the forest, he is sometimes work-casual, standing in a burned forest or next to loaded pack horses, or tall in the saddle striking a pose.

In his later years he has an old-Hollywood, Gary Cooper-like presence.

His final appearance is in a colorized shot from 1936, with a sharp volcanic peak over his shoulder and the faintest shadow of the Forest Service badge on his shirt pocket.

Who lugged early camera equipment into the wild, and why, is also a mystery.

Maybe Prince could look the part of a ranger, but technically he was not “The Ranger.” That title lay with Perry South, who set up the first Sisters Ranger Station in the old Allingham Ranch House in the Metolius Basin in 1906. Prince Glaze might have been a forest guard or assistant, and would likely have been assigned to duties such as: patrolling, surveying homestead claims with the forest boundary, building and clearing trails, finding and extinguishing wildfires, managing grazing permits, and detecting timber theft.

There were tests for the lonely job that few modern-day rangers could pass.

The regulations said only men between the ages of 21 and 40 were eligible and must be “capable of enduring hardships and of performing severe labor under trying conditions.” Also needed were surveying skills to investigate trespass by homesteaders, knowing your way around a gun and having good marksmanship, tying diamond hitches, and loading a mule or pack horse quickly, in a specified time.

Some tests even included cooking over campfires and being able to eat the results.

Reading and writing skills were needed, to start filling out forms that provided the data that the young bureaucracy needed to begin to manage this new huge chunk of public land.

The early workforce got a nickel badge, a compass, a pocket-sized book of the rules, a diary to keep track of their daily accomplishments, and $720 to $900 a month. They were expected to provide their own gun, horse, and food for themselves and their steed. In 1905 Prince stands in a burned forest next to a small tent, which was also part of the equipment supplied, along with items for timber marking and measuring.

Many worked alone, although the Forest Service soon discovered the benefits of allowing a handy wife to tag along, unpaid. In another 1905 photo you might notice his companion riding sidesaddle with a long skirt, probably his bride, Florence Ethel Liggett. In 1910 Ethel is seen smiling in a semi-permanent camp with tables and shelves and a woodstove. By 1926 she is pictured riding comfortably in trousers and knee-high boots.

And there is often a dog. Many baby boomers remember the popular show “Lassie,” about the dog who always saved the day, working alongside a forest ranger in the 1960s. Prince traveled with his dog as well, and his canine companion is present in many photos, even seen guarding a primitive jungle phone in 1915, connected to civilization by miles of wires strung in trees.

Not everyone was supportive of public lands unavailable for unrestrained use. Part of the job, even back then, was public relations, convincing people that managing the forests in a sustainable fashion was a good idea. Maybe this explains the noble photos of Prince on a horse at Scott Lake or standing near McKenzie Pass with the shield of the Cascade National Forest.

Today, Forest Service rangers are supported by a staff of specialists in biology, forestry, ecology, botany, engineering, archeology, and more. But because of decentralized organization of the agency, they still carry many responsibilities alone at the district.

Former Sisters District Ranger Kristie Miller reflected, “In the rangering job, things are both the same and different today from 1905.

One way it’s the same is that it’s still a lonely job.

Everything stops with the district ranger.

When there’s something going on that the public doesn’t like, the district ranger is likely the one to hear about it.

But it’s important for Central Oregon to know that this truly is a special place.

Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also gratifying to work for the Forest Service here because of the support we get from the public.

Photo Provided

I used to say that, even when people were angry at us, it was important to acknowledge that they felt that way because they cared about the forest.

Here I knew people cared because they showed support in what we do and showed us every day.”

If Prince Glaze were to show up for work in Sisters Country today he would have to trade in his horse for a truck and leave his dog at home. His wife might become a ranger or forest supervisor. There have been lawsuits and hiccups along the way, as societal values have become more complex. But thanks to the care of rangers, their staff, and involved citizens, Prince would still recognize many of his old haunts and be able to rest under a big pine tree in the sweet peace of water music and wind in the high Cascade forests.


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