wagon 3

Knots Trading Post (calendar) photo courtesy of Ben Leussink, Sundre.

The important role of the horse drawn freight wagons of years gone by at the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.

Before a road was built from the Red Deer Ranger Station to the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch provisions had to be brought in by horse drawn wagons such as the one pictured here

Mrs. Nellie Murphy recalls in her unpublished memoirs that as a young bride, she moved to the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in 1933 to be with her husband Warden Cliff Murphy.  The nearest grocery store was 50 miles (80 km) away in Sundre.  Nellie would place a grocery order from Knotts Trading Post for a year’s supply of staples.  A portion of her grocery order consisted of 400 lbs of flour, 200 lbs of sugar, 50 lbs each of brown sugar, rolled oats, lard and butter, and 25 lbs of salt.  This bill might total $800 for the year’s supply.

When it came time for the yearly grocery order to be trucked out to the meeting spot by Jack Rae, Cliff would hook up the teams to two wagons and they’d travel the rough trails and negotiate river crossings arriving at a camping spot on the Red Deer River near the Red Deer River Ranger Station.  They’d pitch tents and camp overnight.  Jack Rae would arrive the next morning and the provisions were loaded onto the wagons.   The trip back to the ranch included two or three river crossings.  A lunch stop was taken at Ten Mile Spring before they were back on the trail to the ranch.

This old wagon pictured here is one of the wagons used during that period.  It has deteriorated over the years but has recently received a restoration of sorts by John Nylund, former Ya Ha Tinda Ranch Manager.

As the years went by Cliff Murphy, Jim Bagley and Nellie Murphy worked very hard on building the road using the old iron grader to make the road passable to trucks.  Mrs. Murphy once said she wishes she had 50 cents for every rock she moved off of  that roadbed.

True pioneers.