Carolle Campbell and Family
By Jean Nave – Sisters Country Historical Society – March 2006


For Carole Campbell Caril, the years she spent growing up at Black Butte Ranch are golden. “Growing up at Black Butte Ranch was the best life a kid could have,” enthuses Carole. “Nine months of the year we thought we owned the place. The Lowery’s would come for three months in the summer, the rest of the time the ranch was ours.”

Mr. and Mrs. Stewart S. Lowery of Menlo Park, California bought Black Butte Ranch in 1938 and installed Carl Campbell as resident ranch manager in 1940. Coming with Carl was his wife, Virginia, and his three daughters. Daughter, Carole was four years old at the time. “My dad had five horses and four milk cows. The Lowery’s had 15 head of horses we looked after. During the summer, Crooked River Ranch ran 75 head of cattle in the big meadow,” remembers Carole. (Today’s recreation barn at the Black Butte Ranch resort is the old milking barn used by the Campbells.)

Work was a large part of the family’s activity. Carole remembers having to milk the cows on Christmas mornings before they could open their presents. Cash was scarce. The girls wore hand-me-down clothes and often rode their horses into Sisters, nine miles from the house. But hard work and little cash didn’t take the joy from living at the ranch. Carole learned to ride a horse as soon as she could walk. She broke her first horse when she was nine years of age. Before taking the job as Black Butte Ranch manager, Carl Campbell had run a dude ranch near the head of the Metolius River close to Camp Sherman. They rented horses for twenty-five cents an hour.

As a teenager, Carole earned money during the summers by racing horses at fairs and rodeos and driving cattle to and from Crooked River Ranch. It was a two-day trip each way and she could earn up to $20 per day moving the cows. Carole remembers staying overnight at Holmes Ranch because it was a convenient half-way stop for the drive between Black Butte Ranch and Crooked River Ranch. The Holmes family always made the Campbell’s feel like welcomed guests.

When WWII broke out, Carole watched troops living and training just off the ranch in the National Forest. She remembers the men digging foxholes. She also remembers one time when an US Army tank got stuck in the marshy meadow and her father had to use his horses to haul it out. Those same horses would pull the snow plow her father made. “The snow was a lot deeper then. Sometimes it was over the head of the horses,” Carole remembers

Carl Campbell was an active rodeo man and rodeo activity in Sisters goes way back. Oral history records a bucking contest being held at the corner of what is now Fir and Adams Streets as early as 1910. Carl was one of ten men instrumental in establishing the Sisters Rodeo Association in 1941. Carl was the longest running president of the association. But Carole remembers that her dad resigned his position when she ran for rodeo queen. He didn’t want favoritism to influence the vote.

In 1952 Carole’s horsemanship won her the title of Sisters Rodeo Queen. “Queen Carole is not the drug store type of cowgirl. She is the real thing and has been riding horses since she could walk,” boasts a Redmond Spokesman article of the day.

In 1957, after the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Lowery, the family sold the ranch to former PUC Commissioner, Howard Morgan. (By this time Virginia Campbell was a real estate agent. She listed and sold the ranch.) That same year Carole was accepted into a nurses training program in Portland. Carl and Virginia moved to Plainview and Carl managed a large ranch of his own running cows and some horses. (Carl Campbell held the grazing rights to the Glaze Meadow cattle allotment.) Virginia was honored as Sisters Rodeo Parade Grand Marshall in 1980. She was an active participant in community activities and worked as a real estate agent until her death in 1995.

In 1958 Carole married rancher Frank Crail. A Montanan by birth, Frank grew up on the ranch his grandfather homesteaded in 1902. The historic Crail ranch was bought by Chrysler Corporation for newsman Chet Huntley when he retired. Today the 640 acre ranch is Big Sky’s Meadow Village, part of the famous Big Sky ski resort. The homestead log cabins are now museums filled with Crail family memorabilia.

Carole and Frank Crail moved from Sisters to nearby Redmond in 2005. “It’s a little warmer and the growing season is longer,” says Frank. Carole is an active contributor to the Sisters Country Historical Society.

Copyright © 2006 Sisters Country Historical Society