Saddle up

The headquarters of Parker Ranch, founded in 1847 and one of the biggest ranches in the USA, can be found in the bucolic town of Waimea. It’s the heart of cattle country on the Big Island and where there’s cattle, there’s cowboys, but not here. Here in Hawaii, the cattle are tended by paniolos. That’s because, when the cattle industry grew, ranch hands were needed.

The first three came from California, then part of Mexico. These three vaqueros (Spanish for cowboys) spoke español, but the theory is that, because the Hawaiian language couldn’t handle the word español, it was converted to paniolo. The name stuck.

Over time, the local Hawaiians learned the skills associated with handling cattle. So well did they do this that, in 1908, three of them were entered in the Frontier Days World Championship in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Not only were they a huge hit with the crowds, but they also won titles. Ikua Purdy won the world steer-roping contest and was later voted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. To commemorate those achievements this monument was commissioned. It arrived on the island in 2003 and today stands next to the main highway, on the edge of the parking lot of Parker Ranch Center, a large (for Waimea) shopping complex in the center of town.

For more information about monument, go to

For a brief history of the Big Island’s cattle industry, go to

Posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

16 thoughts on “Saddle up

          1. bushboy

            Yes. The coast destroyed by developers and then the owners complaining that their houses are being affected by the sea as they have torn out the vegetation so they could see water.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Graham Post author

              I figured that’s what you meant. A favorite of mine is when people move into suburbs carved out of agricultural land and then complain bitterly about farmers getting up early and making noise. And the smells, ooooooh.

              Liked by 1 person

        1. Graham Post author

          These days they mostly use little four-wheel off-road vehicles, but they still use horses from time to time, particularly on rough and steep terrain.


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