Former La Center dairy farmer named to Montana Draft Teamsters Hall of Fame


Former long-time Clark County dairy farmer Ray Woodside was inducted into the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame, June 29, during a ceremony at the fairgrounds in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Woodside, 79, was recognized for his knowledge of driving two-up mule teams, four-up teams and an eight-up hitch, and for his work in passing along his knowledge to others. He has participated in shows, parades and demonstrations at fairs and farm work over the last 14 years. He became known for rebuilding harnesses, wagons, sleds and sleighs.

Woodside continues to be active in competitions and practices driving mule teams almost daily. He was specifically recognized for driving his Roman chariot, complete with Roman helmet and flowing cape. He is active in the Ten Mile Driving Club based in Helena and the Bitterroot Draft Horse and Mule Club. He sponsors an annual sleigh ride at his home in Potomac, Montana.

His induction award information stated that “Ray has an outstanding reputation as one who wants everyone to experience the thrill of handling the drive lines and is willing to share his knowledge. He is committed to the art of driving and working in partnership with his animals, and is an example of a true teamster.”

Woodside searched across the United States to acquire matched bay mules with white stockings. At one time he owned 15 matching mules. He now has eight. He takes part in as many as eight shows each year.

In Clark County, Woodside operated a 351-acre dairy farm near La Center for about 29 years, ending in 1997, when state regulators required the installation of costly manure management lagoons. He then moved to Potomac, Montana, where he provided packing and camping trips to the public, with guests riding horses while mules carried supplies for the seven- to 10-day journeys. He guided as many as 12 people at a time into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in western Montana, east of Kalispell.

“I wanted to do something different,” Woodside said.

Woodside took part in the annual draft horse and mule show in Bishop, California, in May 2024 where he won the coveted Speed Team Driver World Champion award. He won seven of nine classes in that show and came in second in the other two. The honor included a $300 silver belt buckle.

“It cost me $3,000 to earn this $300 buckle,” cracked the jovial Woodside, referring to the expenses involved in maintaining a team and traveling to shows.
Woodside and his wife, Brenda, who also drives mule teams at shows, travel to shows with as many as three trailers, moving not only six or eight animals, but also wagons, carts and a supply of harnesses and other equipment. The trailers are 20, 34 and 36 feet long.

Woodside was joined for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Deer Lodge by his four children — Jason Woodside, of La Center, Erin Uskoski, of La Center, Darin Woodside, of Seeley Lake, Montana, and Lacey Vik, of Cathlamet, and three of his seven grandchildren.

Woodside moved with his family to Clark County in 1968, having previously operated a dairy farm in Issaquah. At one time he had 250 Holstein dairy cows in production. He was active in, and former president of, the Clark County Dairy Federation. He served on the La Center school board for 20 years and was a high school wrestling referee for many years as well. His mother, Imogene Woodside, was well known for her work to support dairy and milk programs and for her efforts with the county dairy princess program.

According to dairy farmer Dennis Lagler, there were over 100 dairy farms in Clark County in the 1950s, a number that declined into the 30s by the 1980s. Today, only two dairy farms operate in Clark and Cowlitz counties — the Lagler farm in Brush Prairie and the Van Tol farm near La Center.


Marvin Case is a former, longtime owner of The Reflector. He may be reached at and at 360-984-3626.