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Michael Bushfield, Eureka, MT, is the Winner!

Decker Packsaddle is the answer for Clearwater History Trivia #643, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

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Monday: Specially fit

Tuesday: Originally for mining days

Wednesday: Trees

Thursday: Brand

Friday: Similar uses but different industries

Saturday: Mules

Monday:Superior to another type

Tuesday:Named for the inventors

In A History of the Nez Perce National Forest and other sources, it speaks of the specialized saddles that were put on mules to pack supplies and other items into the back country. Originally it was for miners, but later for the National Forest Service.

The Decker Packsaddle was one of those specialized saddles that came into use with the Forest Service. It was developed in the Clearwater-Salmon River region and replaced the sawback saddle with its diamond hitches. It was designed by the Decker brothers, but much improved by Oliver P. Robinette who specially fit the tree to individual animals and branded those he made with OPR. He eventually obtained a patent. The OPR became a symbol of excellence.

The Decker brothers are credited with developing the halfbreed or padded canvas cover to protect the animal from hard or sharp loads. This type of saddle allowed mules to carry larger and heavier loads. Decker Packsaddles were used not only on the Nez Perce, but also several other areas of the Forest Service Region One.

There were different types of rigging, all developed to improve something with packing.

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