The Era of the Cattle Barons - Carmangay, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 50° 06.251 W 113° 07.249
12U E 348342 N 5552368
Quick Description: Just south of the town of Carmangay, along Highway 23, is an Alberta Heritage Marker, telling of the early Cattle Barons of Alberta. The sign is at a pullout about 150 metres south of Township Road 134.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 7/5/2014 7:51:33 PM
Waymark Code: WMM22J
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member GeoKs
Views: 0

Long Description:
As is so often the case, greed and the hope for huge amounts of easy money enticed many inexperienced men to build large cattle ranches in southern Alberta. As you'll see below, things seldom transpired as planned.

While looking at this marker, notice the wind farm behind it to the east. I'm a transplanted Alberta boy who grew up on the prairie and when I go back to Alberta I'm amazed by how many wind farms there are in the south now. I do, however, remember how windy it can be down there.

The beginnings of the era of the cattle barons in southern Alberta are all tangled up with people, politics, and dreams. Start with acres and acres of waving grasses, coulees carved into the land to offer shelter, clear rivers for water, and teasing Chinook winds to melt winter snow. Add investors and businessmen from eastern Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. Finally, add 1881 federal legislation that allowed land to be leased for 1 cent an acre, and the conditions were in place for the era of the cattle barons.

The Cochrane Ranche, the Bar U, and the Oxley and Walrond ranches were the biggest ranches, leasing thousands of acres. The number of cattle being trailed into Canada through Montana increased quickly as these companies established major herds of several thousand cattle. Seduced by dreams of large profits built on a belief that all they had to do was turn their cattle free on the range, these ranchers had hard lessons to learn. Putting more cattle on the land than it could support depleted summer grasses, and the dry, shriveled stalks that covered the prairie in winter offered poor nutrition at best. Prairie fires, long cold winters, and fierce storms stalked the roaming cattle. Disease and predators feasted on the hungry, weakened animals.

The harsh, stormy winter of 1886-87 made the cattle barons realize they needed to keep a closer eye on their cattle. Some started providing winter feed, looking after calving cows, and employing more cowboys. They began reducing the number of cattle and the size of their ranches. By the early 1900s with the dreams of easy wealth gone, the era of the cattle barons had ended. Smaller ranches, many of them family-owned and running herds from a few hundred to a couple thousand cattle, dominated ranching.
From the Alberta Heritage Marker

Type of Marker: Cultural

Sign Age: New Alberta Tourism Marker Style

Parking: Pull up to the sign and park - get out and gaze at the scenery.

Placement agency: Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

Visit Instructions:
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