In the early days, travellers going through Box Springs, between Medicine Hat and homesteads north to the Red Deer River, used trails known as the Red Deer Trail, and the Gordon Trail (for the well-known Gordon family). The present Box Springs Road pretty well follows the old Gordon Trail.
In the same way that today’s traffic regularly heads for a service station, these pioneers had to find water for their stock during the trip. One such waterhole was a spring located on the Buterman homestead, now on the Hermans’ ranch.
Laurel Larson of Portland, Oregon, came to Box Springs as a young boy with his family and he describes our brand new community in his family’s story.
“When we first settled in Box Springs, there was lots of freight going from the Hat to the Red Deer River. The Red Deer Trail must have been 25 feet wide, like corduroy. As one set of wagon wheel ruts got too deep, the wagons moved over a half-wagon width. There was not just the occasional wagon, but several daily in the early days. On the school section about 14 miles north of Medicine Hat, there was a small spring.
Water was the number one concern of all freighters. They would stop there overnight. The spring was shallow so the freighters would dig a hole and let it fill with water. Most things came in wooden boxes at the grocery stores and the grocers were as glad to get rid of them as the freighters were glad to get them! One freighter, after enlarging the waterhole, inserted a wooden box to keep it open. Word spread and soon the spring became known as the box springs, a good place to stop. That’s how Box Springs got its name!”
Our district was previously known as the “French Settlement”, due to the many early homesteaders here who were of French descent!
Credit: “Wagon Trails & Pioneer Tales”, published by the Bowell to Bowmanton Historical Society in 1993.