I drive by the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site twice each week; once on Monday morning on my way out to work and again Thursday afternoon when I'm on my way back home. I'd never stopped in to see it in person, but I was dogsitting in August for a co-worker who lives in Cochrane and took that opportunity to go and see it for myself. I'd also heard a rumour that there was a single pictograph located somewhere on the land owned by the Cochrane Ranche and wanted to see if I could find it.
The Cochrane Ranche is located approximately 40km northwest of Calgary along Highway 1A in the town of Cochrane. The ranch was established in 1881. An informative sign near the parking area gives this background about the site.
This is the site of one of the most adventurous cattle ranching experiments undertaken in the 1880's. Senator Matthew Cochrane, an Eastern cattle baron, anticipated success as the 100,000 acres of lush prairie grasses and countless creeks and rivers made for ideal conditions. In 1881, 6,800 exhausted cattle arrived here from Montana after a rushed drive.
Disaster followed as the first two winters proved to be unusually harsh. The Chinook Winds did not bring the expected relief lasting only long enough to partially melt the snow which froze again forming a hard crust over the range. Two thousand head of cattle starved to death unable to get to the grass lying just inches below their hooves.
Through mismanagement and unforeseen bitter climatic conditions the site as a cattle ranch was short lived. In 1884 the remaining cattle were moved to the Waterton Lake area and the ranche was stocked with sheep. This venture was also plagued with misfortune and by 1889 most of the ranche's holdings were sold off.
On May 21, 1979 the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site was officially opened with the unveiling of the Men of Vision Statue.
|Entrance to the Cochrane Ranche|
|A large "C" adorns the gate|
|I hiked Stockman's Trail through the ranche site. This is the corral.|
|Big Hill Creek flows through the ranche|
|Another look at the corral|
|Former site of the Bunkhouse. The Manager's House was immediately to the left, but nothing remains there.|
|Looking up towards the Men of Vision statue|
With a little help I was able to find the site of the lone pictograph located at the Cochrane Ranche. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that directly beside the pictograph was also a single petroglyph, or rock engraving, that I did not know was there!
|This petroglyph depicts the sun|
|Although difficult to see, this pictograph is of a shield-bearing warrior|