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PASTURE NAMES by Steve Moreland

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Soapweed

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MANY OF OUR PASTURES are named after the old homesteaders that first settled this country. On our ranch, our better land with more gently rolling hills and sub-irrigated hay meadows is on the Nebraska side of the border. Our South Dakota land is rough hills, sandy pastures, and not nearly as productive. There is nothing on the South Dakota side that could by any stretch of the imagination be called hay ground. Some of the pasture names are Bessey, West Polzer, East Polzer, Little Polzer, North Coleman, and South Coleman. We bought this ranch in 1986, and shortly thereafter Carol and I were riding horseback up in the north hills. I happened to look down on the ground to see an old horse hay rake tooth lying there. It looked completely out of place in those soapweedy hills. I got off my horse and picked it up, and remarked to Carol, "How would you like to be Mrs. Polzer and have to help put up hay in this kind of country?" She said, "How do you know there was a Mrs. Polzer?" I said, "There had to be, because there was a Little Polzer."
 

Big Muddy rancher

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Great deductive reasoning Soap.

We also have the Walker place, Bonner, Keough, Canute, Roberts and Wright. We have been here longer then any of the them but they still carry the original names. My grandson has a middle name "Huntley" after Huntley coulee here on the ranch.
 

Haytrucker

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Slim's north and south, Big Morava, the dam pasture, the bull pasture, Doogie's north and south, and Sand Canyon to name a few. I have almost always taken time to wonder about the old homesteads and stackyards you ride up on. Its work now, but I can't imagine how challenging it was then. They were tough. I hope their names live on those pastures forever.
 

leanin' H

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I love old historic names. On our place we have the Johnny Bull Hollow, Burn canyon, Rough Hollow, Muddy, Skunky, Bogus Spring, The Horse Trap, Johnny Reid and a whole bunch of numbered pastures. On neighbors places there is the Electric area, a Bull Pasture like Haytrucker, Tarantula ridge, Elephant Rock, Polly wog flat, Hidden pasture and Almy's west piece.

I still call neighboring places by the names of their founders even if they have changed hands over the years. If the name lives on, maybe a small part of the dream does too?

There is an old cement foundation south of my place about ten miles everyone calls the Kaiser Place. A German family homesteaded it and tried their hand at dry farming. Lost it during the depression and it reverted back to Public Land. Another humorous place is a canyon on the mountain called Little Dutch on the maps. But no local has ever called it that. Its name to anyone who has ever rode up/down/across it after cattle has the intials SOB. And it more precisely describes it than "Little Dutch". :D
 

Haytrucker

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I was just talking currently,I have ridden and fenced several of those SOB pastures. They are pretty common. Most of them had another name originally.
 

Faster horses

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We have lived or owned places that had pastures that were called "Schoolhouse pasture", "Reese Anderson," "Barber Creek","Elephant Springs" (don't know how it got that name because the spring there was wayyyy down in a deep draw and wouldn't water a cat after they cattle got there. I walked out of there once and was thirsty after climbing all that ways. I imagine that a cow would be affected the same way. It was more of a water trap than anything, really kind of dangerous for cattle to think they could water there), "Summerville Flat" there was a prairie dog town there of great size. It wasn't country that should be farmed but that is what was finally resorted to, because the prairie dogs had completely taken over half a section of grass, "Flying E", "Cold Draw", oh yes, this brings back lots of memories.
 

Evans

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In the foothills you can still see where they tried to farm years ago. Super steep side hills that make you cringe if you think about trying to farm with equipment. They must have done it with horses because I can't see how they could have farmed it with tractors.
You can still find parts of their trails where they used to skid out logs with horses. Lots of places with names like dead horse hill for a reason.
Some places are named because of shape or what they look like.
Water is pretty big deal. Most springs or creeks are named after long ago ranches or ranchers.
If you know the local history there seems to be a lot of misery and broken dreams. Back to homesteaders to small cow/calf guys later on. Even the big original outfits seemed to go broke for one reason or another.
I like south eastern Alberta. I need to check it out more. seems to be a lot of ghost towns there. Unkept graves in ditches.
I'm thinking a lot of the town names were either Indian or named by optimistic settlers that came west. Some are named after railroad big shots who have never layer eyes on the place.
 

Silver

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Perhaps it is because this ranch and the neighbouring ranches have been here for several generations that every quarter or half is still called by the names of the people that originally homesteaded it. The obvious exception would be the land that was originally either homesteaded or "improved upon" to get title of by those families that are still here. It drove my wife crazy the first few years we were together when I would say I was riding to McLeans to move cattle to Hudson's... she would ask why we didn't have names that made more sense. I would just answer that that was what those parcels were named and it would make sense to her eventually. I think she's got it now :cool:
 

leanin' H

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Silver I love old names like you mentioned. It’s tough to see where we want to go if we don’t look back for perspective from the past. And by honoring those who worked and sacrificed before us by remembering, it connects us to them. I’d like to think they smile when we talk of them. In my case, they probably wonder why I haven’t learned very well from their mistakes.
 

Evans

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Perhaps it is because this ranch and the neighbouring ranches have been here for several generations that every quarter or half is still called by the names of the people that originally homesteaded it. The obvious exception would be the land that was originally either homesteaded or "improved upon" to get title of by those families that are still here. It drove my wife crazy the first few years we were together when I would say I was riding to McLeans to move cattle to Hudson's... she would ask why we didn't have names that made more sense. I would just answer that that was what those parcels were named and it would make sense to her eventually. I think she's got it now :cool:
Its like that here to. You will tell someone to go out to Romeleys but Romeleys are long gone and don't own it anymore.
Sometimes a 1/4 is just called the water rights quarter. I forget how it worked but wasn't one quarter in a township set up so different ones had access to water? I know of one quarter in the hills that is called the water rights quarter. Its currently deeded and the only person that has rights to it is the owner but its still called the water rights quarter.
 

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