Thursday, January 30, 2014

Exploring the Kootenays

Part IV
Fort Steel Heritage Town in Winter

Fort Steele, only a few miles down the road from where we live, is a bustling tourist attraction during the summer with an annual visitor count of close to 80000.
In the off season though, although the town site itself is open, all the shops are closed, and peace and quiet settles over the place.
I always wanted to photograph this lovely place in the snow and on a leisurely Sunday after a recent overnight snow fall I did exactly that.

Gate with view of Fisher Peak

In absolute solitude, nobody was around except a very few of the staff, I could a explore the "winter" beauty of this historic site.

Old Stables

The towns very beginnings reach back to the 1860' gold rush at the nearby Wild Horse River. At that point it was called Galbraith's Ferry. Named after John Galbraith who was smart enough to offer a ferry service over the Kootenay River to the miners.

Restored Store Front

The town went trough the for the west so typical booms and recessions and went from a population of 11 to one of a thousand and back.

One of my favorite shops, the Harness maker

Around 1888, by popular vote, the town got renamed Fort Steele, in honor of  Superintendent Samuel B. Steele. He and 75 members of the North West Mounted Police helped to resolve serious issues that started to erupt between the native Ktunaxa and the new settlers.

One of the little chapels

Unfortunately for the town of Fort Steele, the long-awaited Canadian Pacific Railway bypassed Fort Steele in favor of the growing community of the nearby Cranbrook.

Fort Steele Water Works Tower

In 1904 the government offices were moved to Cranbrook and by 1910 the population of Fort Steele was rapidly declining.

Icicles instead of Ice Cream

By popular demand the Government declared 1961 Fort Steele as an historic park with a mandate “to preserve, present, and manage for public benefit the historic settlement of Fort Steele . . .”

Not only is the town site lovingly restored with lots of educational and fun happenings during the summer season, Fort Steele is also the year-round home of many endangered heritage livestock breeds,

as the Cotswold Sheep here, they must just have had their breakfast...

and of course the beloved Black Clydesdales.

"Historic" Junk Yard

Apart from bringing the history so lively to the people, Fort Steele is also a photographers dream,

the scenery is spectacular

Old Wagon framing the Fisher peak Valley

and lots of old and older artifacts beg to be captured.

Rusty Remnants

Detail with View

And the snow just made my day!

Small Tree overlooking the Kootenay Valley


Please visit the Fort Steel Heritage Town website for more information....and if you are in the area, make sure to stop by. It is well worth it no matter the season!

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