Cattle Drives Over the Spirit River Trail

Here’s another gem from the Calverley archives: an interview with Ray Newby, conducted by Dorthea Calverley, about the old days of cattle driving over the Spirit River Trail.

In the interview, Mr. Newby recalls several harrowing adventures including a steer that weighed 2300 pounds by the time he got it to Edmonton, and the time a bull got loose in Spirit River and had to be tracked by the screams of women hanging the wash in their back yards.

He recalls herding cattle across trestle bridges, which may have been ice free, but were also high and narrow.  We still have several of these bridges in the area so most of us can visualize them: 100 feet high and only as wide as the railway ties.  Now imagine pushing 144 head of cattle across – and what happened when a couple of huskies came barking from the other side!

Mr. Newby says he also drove bronc teams across those trestle bridges, each horse pushing as hard as the other toward the middle of the bridge, thus literally staying on track.

Those were hard but exhilarating times, and the work of Mr. Newby and other cattle drivers is not likely ever to be seen again.

If you know a bit of history or an interesting Peace Country story of any kind, Town Spirit would love to help you share it with the world.  Just email or leave a tip in the comment box.  Much appreciated!

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4 Responses to Cattle Drives Over the Spirit River Trail

  1. Did I mention that Mrs. Calverley was frequently our substitute teacher at Grandview Elementary in Dawson Creek? That was a LONG time ago.

  2. And now I’ve spelled “and” wrong. You’ve got me rattled!

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