from a Collection of Historic Poems and Short Stories by Gordon and Belle Hall Volume II.
It is very interesting to research some of the very early ranchers in Alberta. The Dominion Land Act of 1872 opened up the west to homesteaders. The north immediately began to settle. However, due to Blackfoot hostility, the area south of the Bow River remained empty of white men [sic] except for a few traders and “Wolfers” from south of the border. The first fort at Spitze (High River) was built by the whiskey trader “One Spot’ Samples in 1865.
With the coming of the North West Mounted Police in 1874, things quieted down, the whiskey traders were muzzled. However, the area was not safe for settlers until after the signing of the Treaty of 1877 which put the Blackfoot on reservations [sic]. In 1879 Tom Lynch and George Emerson trailed 1,000 head of cattle from Montana and established the Rocking P Ranch four miles west of High River. About the same time, O.H. Smith established a ranch on the upper Highwood. In 1882 he sold it to Fred Ings. The next year Stimson started the Bar U. Although Fred Ings and his brother Walter named their spread the Rio Alta Ranch almost a century later it was still known locally as O.H. brand was one of the first four brands registered and is the oldest brand in Alberta. During the early eighties, thousands of head of cattle and horses were trailed from the States. Crossed with British bulls, those tough Longhorns formed the foundations of Alberta’s cattle industry. As the railroad pushed westward the government encouraged settlement.
The Cochrane Ranche Co. was formed sometime prior to 1881. Their headquarters was one mile west of the present town of Cochrane, with the present boundaries the site is closer than one mile. In the spring of 1881 Major Walker went to the States and purchased 6,800 head of cattle at a price of $18 per head, to be delivered at the border. The I.G. Baker Co. contracted to deliver the cattle to the Cochrane Ranche for $2,50 per head. The drive consisted of 30 cowboys, and 300 head of horses. Arriving at Cochrane Ranche after a hard drive on which many of the cattle perished, and although it was a mild winter, many more cattle perished. A second herd was brought up from the States the following year. Poindexter and Orr undertook to deliver the new herd to the Cochrane Ranche at $2.75 a head. The winter of 1882-83 was a disaster for Cochrane Ranche and thousands of cattle died, due mainly to the chinook winds which put a crust on the snow, and the fact that the new herd arrived here late in October after the winter had started. The following year, 1884, the Ranche was moved to a new location near Waterton Lakes.