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Archaeologists Reveal Alberta's Ranching History

Friday, August 9, 2019

COCHRANE, CANADA—According to a Cochrane Today report, archaeologists working ahead of construction on Alberta's Highway 1A have been unearthing remains of Cochrane Ranch, the first large-scale cattle ranch in Alberta, which was founded in 1881. At its apogee, the ranch covered a span of over 350,000 acres and was home to thousands of cattle. In addition to remnants of nineteenth-century buildings—including a large barn and bunkhouse—in the ranch's former administrative center, the site is also home to a pre-contact First Nations campsite, where excavations have revealed a cooking hearth and stone tools. The team plans to consult early twentieth-century photographs and province records to learn more about the original layout of the ranch, which also featured a large brick quarry. At its height right before World War I, the quarry produced over 200,000 bricks a month and supplied nearly all the bricks to the growing city of Calgary. A wide range of artifacts from the 1880s through the twentieth century have been discovered, including the crucifix from a rosary and a turn-of-the-century stove door. To read more about the archaeology of ranching, go to "Letter from Texas: On the Range." 

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