The Steelhead Bronco
When a shiny Gateway Bronco rolls off the factory floor, it’s in the first stages of a new life. There will be plenty of happy stories going forward, fresh memories that will last a lifetime.
But it’s good to take a moment reflect a bit on the past. These 1966-1977 Broncos have had long lives of their own. Over the course of a half century, the typical Bronco has handled ranch work, hunting and fishing expeditions, remote camping trips, and countless excursions to the beach. If these Broncos could speak, they’d have stories to tell around the campfire that would rank with the best Tall Tales.
Our 1970 Bronco Spotlight vehicle this month is one such SUV. Finished in a striking Brittany Silver and packed with technology and comforts, it began its life as most Broncos did, as sturdy and simple as a toolbox. The magnificent SUV is named the “Steelhead Bronco” since it has spent virtually its entire life in the hands of avid anglers.
For so many Broncos, the early years are lost in the mists of time, but fortunately, the details of the Steelhead Bronco’s life were well preserved. Ernest Frederick “Doc” Bergmann II, from Merced, California, purchased this vehicle new, paying cash in full for the Bronco. He was an emergency room physician who spent his free time fishing the trout streams of the North American West. Doc’s son “Bus,” while on leave from the US Navy, joined his father on the Bronco’s maiden voyage to the Kalama River in Washington state where the two targeted steelhead trout to great success.
Bus was so taken with the fishing life that upon finishing his service in the Navy, he dedicated himself to becoming a steelhead fishing guide. His fishing expeditions took him through California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Eventually, he made it to Alaska, where he guided for the Bristol Bay Lodge. Later, he founded his own guiding business, B&B Fishing Adventures, along the Kanektok River in Southwest Alaska.
Much of what we know about the Bronco’s Alaska adventures comes from Pat McDonough, who guided with Bus for many years, and eventually acquired the business himself, including the Bronco.
“Part of the investment in the Kanektok program included Doc’s donation of this 1970 Ford Bronco for running around town in Dillingham, Alaska,” McDonough said. “Many locals admired this truck over the years.”
When McDonough took over the company, he renamed the business Falls Creek Outdoors. He still provides float trip guide services on the Kanektok river in Alaska as well as in Washington.
After a lifetime of service in the wild, the Bronco finally reached the point where it was destined for a new chapter. “The Bronco was really too small for hauling the rafts, frames and associated gear each season, so I decided to ship it south on the barge to Seattle and look for a buyer, someone who would appreciate the sentimental value of this classic vehicle,” McDonough told us. He found that someone in Seth Burgett, founder and CEO of Gateway Bronco.
“Pat reached out to us and shared the story for this Bronco, which came to us in original paint, bench seat interior and 302 with 3 speed manual transmission,” added Seth. “It’s an incredibly, well-preserved time capsule from the dry Alaskan air. As soon as we heard the story of Doc and Bus, we immediately thought of the perfect new owner who would not only connect with its history, but be the perfect steward to write the next chapters in this Bronco’s ongoing story.”
The Alaska chapter of the Steelhead Bronco’s life is behind it, but the next chapter is likely to be just as interesting. Gateway Bronco transformed this classic SUV for Keith Stansell, a man who has traveled an almost unimaginable distance in life himself. Fittingly, Stansell is also a dedicated fisherman. We’ll take a look at the makeover this Bronco received from Gateway Bronco, as well as fascinating life of the new owner, in next month’s issue of Bronco Lifestyle.
There are countless Bronco adventures still waiting to be experienced. Are you ready to start creating the stories of the future? Contact Gateway Bronco today to start putting the wheels in motion for the perfect Bronco to enhance your lifestyle.
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