Wild cattle created bedlam in early days

by Gordon and Belle Hall, A Peep into the Past Vol. 1, pg 32

Every fall thousands of head of cattle were driven to the stockyards at Cochrane to be sold and shipped by rail to the buyer. They were weighed and brand recut here also. 

I can just imagine some of the poor souls that live here now, that can’t put up with train whistles, trying to cope with the bedlam when these cattle hit town; however, it wasn’t a bedroom town then, but a genuine working cow town. Charlie Mickle was one of the brand readers. The scale was covered over by a roof and they read brands and weight a carload at a time. A stock train would arrive from Calgary in the morning with about 40 cars. The engine stay with it all day, moving loaded cars along. There were two loading chutes, and they loaded two cars at a time. 

The Russell Hotel had a dining room which was a little more exclusive than the Chinese Cafe, and most of the ranchers and stockmen ate there. I always remember the Copithornes; they were big, powerful men. 

 

Getting the herds across the Bow River was always a problem. There was an old wooden bridge to start with, then in 1925, a new steel bridge was put across the Bow. Also, that was the same year the elevator was built and the Royal Bank came to town, taking over the Union Bank. Some outfits just swam their cattle across the river, while others put a quiet milk cow in the lead, and the herd would follow. 

Cattle were wild in the early days, as they had just come off the range, where there were very few people, only cowboys on horseback. I remember a Mr. McLennon, who bought the Merino Ranch from the Countess Bubna, brought in a herd to the stockyards; and his son, who was a cowboy and stockman, was crushed to death by a herd of steers in the stockyard pens. McLennon sold out soon after and moved away. 

Gradually trucks took over the cattle moving business. The stockyards are gone and most people in Cochrane do not know where they were situated. 

Another era of the old West has been phased out.

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