It was around a sagebrush campfire in eastern Oregon that Kesey first heard the tale from his father – about the legendary “last go round” that took place at the original Pendleton Round Up in 1911.
Hundreds of riders were competing for the first World Championship Broncbusting title, but it was one special trio of buckeroos that provided the drama: a popular black cowboy, George Fletcher; a Nez Perce Indian cowboy, Jackson Sundown; and a fresh-faced kid from Tennessee name of Johnathan E. Lee Spain. Who would walk away with the prize money and the silver-studded saddle? When the dust cleared, everyone knew they’d witnessed something extraordinary.
Kesey has journeyed back into Oregon history to reclaim this long-remembered moment, beefed up the bare bones of fact, and whipped them into a full-blown rip-snorting Tale of the True West. Sixteen pages of rare Round Up photographs provide graphic testimony of the time. The tiny town of Pendleton is swollen to bursting that memorable weekend and bristling with colorful characters like Buffalo Bill Cody, wrestler Frank “The Cruel Crusher” Gotch, cowgirl Prairie Rose Henderson, and a formidable medicine man named Parson Montanic. From the teepees along the river to the teeming saloons on Main Street, Round Up fever blazes like a prairie fire. This story of love, sweat, and horseflesh is a unique Western, wild and wooly and full of fleas. Let ‘er buck!