Ben Snipes, Washington's most famous embodiment of the cowboy as living Western myth, came to the Willamette Valley around 1856. He drove cattle, worked with a butcher, and occasionally prospected for gold.
In 1859, Snipes heard rumors of gold strikes in the Fraser River area of British Columbia. Upon arrival he realized that while the many miners sought their fortunes panning for gold, there was a fortune to be made supplying those miners with beef.
Snipes returned to Washington Territory and began driving herds of cattle north, first for other people and then eventually for himself. By 1864, he owned more cattle than any other person in the Northwest, with livestock estimated at perhaps 125,000 head of cattle and 20,000 horses.
In 1958, Benjamin Elam Snipes was posthumously inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Hall of Great Westerners.