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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 25, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta i HE LEiHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, June 25, 1974 Photographs by PHIL ILLINGWORTH LONELINESS DWl IN PIONEER HOU KEVIN LOVEY FINDS A FRIEND A part of Southern Alberta's history is dying a slow and painful death. The old stopover on the Oldman River just above its confluence with the Belly River, has the look of being forgotten by everyone save the man who owns the property. And he can't afford to preserve the 88-year-old building. Karel Roeloff of Lethbridge stood near the old ranch house and told of the vandals and the vain attempts to preserve the place where weary travellers of days gone by would stop to rest and eat on their journey from Lethbridge to Fort Macleod. The building still stands, but for how long one can only guess. Built in 1886. the building is a two-storey ranch home of shaped logs that were chinked and later covered with plaster. At one time a comfortable resting place, the stopover today is old. worn and tired looking. Mr. Roeloff said there were people living in the old place until about 15 years ago. It has since been gutted and broken into by vandals. Today it is over-run by cattle. "I offered the building, alone with the old smoke- house and bunk house to the Kinsmen. The club was going to move them to Indian Battle Park but the plan never materialized." he said. Mr. Roeloff, who bought the property in 1948 from the Urch estate, said he was willing to donate the buildings, but he guessed the reason the plan fell through was the moving costs. But if the old stopover itself is lost sometime in the future, at least the records kept by the owners will remain. Those records, now in Mr. possession, tell who stopped there for a meal, a drink or a ride across the river by ferry during high spring waters. Bed, boat, breakfast or beer just about everything at the stopover house cost 50 cents. The door was always open. If no one was there, a traveller would cook himself a meal and leave the money. The owners were never far off. If the old house could talk it surely would have some fascinating talcs to tell of its heyday in the 10 year.-; before Lethbridge and Fort Macleod were linked by railroad in 1897- 98. When W. H. a.id Richard T. Urch built the house in 1886 cattle ranching had grown to major proportions in Southeast Alberta and Lethbridge had been established as a coal mining centre. Besides their ranch. Long and Urch ran the 'house as a post office, eating place, hostel and tavern. When the river was flooded from April to June they operated a ferry service as a sideline. A stagecoach would leave Fort Macleod around 9 a.m. for Lethbridge. and arrive at the stopover house in time for lunch. What time the travellers arrived in Lethbridge depended on how long they spent refreshing themselves. Liquor was fairly easily- come by. with whisky- brought in from the United States, one way or another, and sold for S1.50 a bottle. Beer sold at the standard rate of 50 cents, like everything else. In those days the only- legal way to get liquor was by a special permit. There is a story that the stopover house was visited by 3 judge one day. before the owners had a permit to sell liquor. The judge apparently looked at a crock of Jiqwor behind Ihe bar am had a "It's judge emptie everyoi Thej a per handful his poc so the t Regina Thosi than c stay at have a cents, serve t Feed was 50 for the But ft depend A Me would very I 'seem ti across cents. Besic passen) ranchei freque every betwec Fort almos droppei house. The the vis the m nni-'iKW ;