Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Buttes, Outlaws and Cowboys Draw Visitors to Saskatchewan's Big Muddy Badlands

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Buttes, Outlaws and Cowboys Draw Visitors to Saskatchewan's Big Muddy Badlands

Article excerpt

Buttes, outlaws and cowboys a Big Muddy draw


CORONACH, Sask. - The sweet smell of sagebrush fills your senses as you walk toward Castle Butte, a sandstone and clay formation rising more than 60 metres into the Prairie sky.

This is the Big Muddy Badlands, part of southern Saskatchewan where outlaws once hid in caves and cowboys still roam the range.

Trish Manske leads tours through the badlands and says people from all over the world love the landscape.

"Most people don't have words," said Manske.

"They're just absolutely awestruck ... especially on a day when the weather is conducive, they will stand on the hills and just soak it in. They can't get it all absorbed, especially people that are from a country, say, like Germany, where everything is so closed in or, say, people from Japan that are used to having people all around them, and they just can't believe the open space and the view.

"It almost amazes them that such country exists because they're not used to that. They think Saskatchewan is just flat and they see this and they can't believe that it's here."

The Big Muddy Badlands are in a valley hugging the U.S. border, near the community of Coronach, Sask.

The area was formed at a time when, as Manske says, you could get from the Big Muddy to the Big Easy.

"That is what I have always been told is that when the glaciers were melting, that there was water in the valley and that you could jump into a canoe and canoe from the Big Muddy to New Orleans because our water flows south," she said.

What's left behind is a rugged terrain with some areas that can only be accessed by horse or quad.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the area was an escape route for outlaws smuggling horses across the border. Caves in the hills made for good hiding spots.

Tamela Burgess grew up on a ranch on the American side of the valley listening to stories of the outlaws. When she married a Canadian rancher, the history was in her own yard, literally.

The Burgess Ranch covers more than 8,000 hectares.

The ranch -- which was owned by a different family in the early 1900s -- was the first place Mounties stayed when they were sent to the area, but outlaws smuggling horses also used it as a safe haven. …

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