Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 27, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
20 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Thursday, April 17, 1972 This Ls Hie 1.rifid uliorn llin antelope graze! There were far greater herds of Lhc flcel fooled animals at one Li mo than there are now, but (Ire fidvancemciU of civilis- ation and development forced a rctiem'hrnrnl in llic wild herds. By 192H Milk River was one o[ the first shipping intuits on Ihe prairies (lint was transport- ing more1 ihan fitiO.Ciiin bushels of grain annually In distant consumers. By the llie town's seven elevators were shipping more (dan 1.5 million bushels of wheat rind neiirly one million bushels of other grains. Mustard had become a major crop in lite disln'ct, and box- cars of commercial mustard seed was being shipped, cacli year. Milk River is located at tlio fas tern cchjc of the Milk River Ridge, whooh forms .'in east- wesl bedrock ridge o( latid in Lhc .soiilhern-inosl pnvl o[ the province. H is one of the high- est ridges in the west onlside of the Hocky Mountains, and it forms the dividing lint1 in land drainage with streams along tho northern slope dram- ing into the Hudson Ray and from Lhc soulhern sqics into the Atlantic Ocoan. Arid, treeless Had cveiyonc heeded the ail- vice of Cupliiin John Palli.scr. the British government envoy and land surveyor who explor- ed the I'alli.scr Triangle in the Canadian WcsL from ]8o7 to IfiGO, (lie region would have re mainod as a reserve for I he nalivc pooplc of Lhis land. described il as arid anil treeless and impossible for selllemcnl. It uns tlic rinding ol gold in Ihe Yukon Ilnli.sh bia thai nrmighl the first white men through Ihe land, and not farming or ranching. The men of the land followed later. The border crossing point of Contls and nearby Milk River became Ihe Canadian jumping- of. spot for thousands of root- less men who came up Ihe Mis- souri afk'i (In: Civil War and ended up at Ihe headwater at Bunion. At Ihe same lime, there wei'c scores of mas- sacres and savage fighting be- tween Indians and white man throughout Ihe northern and western portions of the U.S. The whites traded their fire- water for furs and hides, and liquorcd-up tribes went rampag- ing throughout the count ry.sido sifiugllie-ring even the women and children. Many [rom both sides sought Ihe protection of the Canadian border, nnd they often pursued into Canada. Some M nil OK even scl up (heir trading posls this side of I lie border, and there were some violent .skirmishes be I wee-n var- ious factions in a land that knew no Mountics help It v, fis the arrival of the lUmirJlir.'.s Imm Ihe ca.sl in J874 broughl .semblance of law and order In the frontier. The. Americans, the Indians and Ihe whites uere either driv- en brick .S'tmlh :if Hit- border, or Ihry had to adhere to the laws of Ihe land. On many noe.-isions the Mounlies pursued offenders ac-ross Iho line in an attempt to faring (IicJii lo justice. For years af'.ei1 their arrival and the establishment of police posls in strategic locations throughout the region, the A fount its served as in id-wives to .nil concerned, at times nnHer nl) .sorts of conili- tions often in the face ol fjreal odds. II wasn't until a major pur- lion of the land area in the south was secured by the Mountie.s that oilier settlers started to follow- (he farmers, the ranchers, (eachers, law- yers, blacksmiths, grocers ami bankers. Spurred by reports of deep, lush grass nnd rich, virgin .soil, Lhc pioneers and sclLlers of Ihe 1900s came from Iowa, North and South Dakota and Minne.soLu. Tlic Tom Tcnnants came frnm Grand Forks, North Dakota. They were sheep ranch- ers and settled by the spring in the bills in the district to Lhc cast. Their home- was a Liny shuck, winch had belonged lo two Indian trap- pers. The newcomer.1! came in cov- ered waciuns, buckboards, OILS and with tea ins. M a n y brought their families. There were the O s It o r n s, CoLIins. Youngs. Aches and SiViilhs. When Ihey arrived Ihe clos- est stores were at nearby on the Alberta- Montana border, at Warner, Raymond and Stirling. Railroad ties The region's narrow railway was built through to Montana in the LJWOs. and some of (he homes iverc creeled out of discarded railway tics. II was prairie, country, and the main fuel was coal hauled iti from Five years laler the Osboni ntino was de- veloped five mile.s north of (own. In HIDH (he lownsite was cho.s- cn and Mirveyed, and the first .store wns owned by a Mr. The first mayor wa.s Dan Deary. By IM2 the population had reached the 132 mark and 7il2 by the mid-1950s. A serious problem confront- ing the firsl settlers was the schooling of youngsters. Tho first ones went tu Stirling. A school was built in the Two- Fifteen district with Miss Totn- folir as the first teacher. In it .school buill in Milk Ilive-r. The first police in the area established posts at Confls, Wriling-on-Slone and al the Jay Know Ranch. Besides maintain ing law and order, they of leu took food and supplies to Lhc farmers and ranchers nnd as- sislcd with many emergencies. Whisky traders and bootleggers were a source; of never-ending problems for the men in scar- let. Entertainment While community vrK, horse shows, tennis and 11 liosl of other activilics .served the recreation needs of l h o early days in the communities, the travelling shows her- alded wilh extra enthusiasm. The show's Lent, was pitched in a convenient location in town and in .short order, and the pro- gram under way, II was a time when country folk camo into town near and Lar. The first United Church was built in 192.5. The first Catholic church was moved from lu-idge in 1D1S. The LDS eon- grognlinn held its services in Ihe Snnlaiul Theatre until their own church was buill in 1051. The ccjngrcftalion mrl in the Legion Hall until when its church was creeled. II was in that Milk Iliver became a town, governed by a mayor nnd six councillors. Dy then il was well established as a kov service centre for the Milk River Ridge country to the wesl. the Milk Rivor Valley lands Lo the ensl and rolling plains Lo the uorlh and south. Wilh ils seven grain elevat- ors and one mustard seed re- ceiving and denning plant, Milk Hivfir became one of tho largesL grain gathering centres on the Canadian Prairies. Be- cause farmers ami ranchers had to come to lown lo deliver and pick up grain supplies, .scores of allied service estab- lishments into business al Milk River. Life today Today it is serviced by wnler, sewer, natural gas, clcclririly and olhi-T services of a modern lown. White it caters primar- ily lo the needs of agriculture, basic facilities are aiso served for Lhe nearby gas nnd oil wells thai have sprung up in LI to nearby counlryside. Kapeseed nnd barley produc- tion and Ihe raising of beef c.ittlc arc basic lo the economy of Milk River, and are today among the fastest growing in- dustries in the region. In JWi the rapcsccd acreage in I h c County of Warner jumped by acres Lo a total of 7JIO acres. Barley, much of il fed locally, jumped to acres from acres. While Milk Iliver district farmers and ranchers have raised tjualily beef rattle for a number of years, il was only la.sl year Ihey started to ven- ture Ibr operation of largo- scale fecdlols. A surplus of wheat and an abundance of barley are the main ingredi- ents Ihal made farmers switch more of their attention to beef cattle.