In the middle of the Cowboy Trail, about 15km outside Longview, Alberta, is the Bar U Ranch — one of the original and largest of the Alberta’s ranches (est. 1881), and one that survived the depression and stayed in production until the 1950s long after most others had disappeared.
During its peak the Ranch maintained a herd of 30,000 cattle on 160,000 acres of leased land, was the same size as a small self-contained town, and was close enough to Little New York (Longview) and Turner Valley to keep things interesting.
Two of the Big Four (founders of the Calgary Stampede) and known Albertan politicians come from the Bar U: Patrick Burns, George Lane. Other notable events/personalities include:
- Edward Prince of Wales, who asked to visit the ranch in 1919 (long before he met Wallis Simpson) and was so tickled by the experience that he bought a neighboring ranch in High River.
- Clint Eastwood filmed the movie Unforgiven around Longview and the Bar U.
- John Ware, a former slave from South Carolina, rode North from Montana during a cattle drive and eventually found himself at the Bar U. Here he worked on and off until he saved enough to purchase his own ranch in Sheep Creek.
- Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. The Sundance Kid, was a horse breaker on the ranch before teaming up with Butch Cassidy.
GPS will only take you as far as Longview. From there you need to look for the small Parks Canada sign that will direct you towards the site. When you see a large Alberta Beef Ad, turn right towards a small unassuming building that hides the ranch.
Park passes will get you in for free. If you have food allergies, pack a lunch, the small cafeteria is not allergy friendly by any means.