Fort Whoop-Up and Indian Battle Park

Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 49.695396423 Longitude: -112.86340332 Elevation: 2723 ft

A Short Introduction to the Site

North America’s last intertribal clash here in 1870 was followed by a treaty between plains-roaming Cree and foothills-resident Blackfoot. Native peace was exploited by whiskey smugglers who plied the Whoop- Up Trail between Fort Whoop-Up and Fort Benton, Montana, and prompted the formation of today’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The fort has been reconstructed at Indian Battle Park.

As an added treat, the City of Lethbridge has established an excellent trail network here near the Oldman River.

Full Description of the Historical Site or Museum

In 1960, after repeated floods drove valley residents to the prairie benchland, Indian Battle Park was officially opened. Located in the Oldman River Valley in the midst of Lethbridge, the park is shielded from the surrounding urban environment by coulees extending 300 feet from prairie level to floodplain.

These impressive natural sculptures form a sheltered valley ideally suited to a variety of year-round recreational opportunities. Natural and historical interpretation, open space recreation, picnicking, jogging and hiking are just some of the park activities. Indian Battle Park provides both an escape from the urban setting and a chance to experience the heritage of Lethbridge.

It is in the river valley setting of Indian Battle Park that the history of Lethbridge comes alive. As the park name commemorates, the last battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot was fought here in 1870. Much of the battle took place in Indian Battle Coulee on the west side of the river, while the retreat across the river ended in a last stand close to the Coal Banks Interpretive Site. A formal peace treaty between the two nations was signed the following year.

The coal mining industry on which Lethbridge was founded began in 1874 when Nicholas Sheran started the first drift mine in the valley. The original valley mining settlement of Coalbanks grew to become Lethbridge in 1885.

Dominating the valley, the CPR High Level Bridge was constructed in 1907-09. At the time it was the longest and highest steel viaduct in the world, rising 96 metres (307 feet) and stretching 1,624 metres (5,327 feet) across the valley.

The Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Center features an Interactive Theater in the summer. Learn details at http://www.fortwhoopup.com/

Open Months

Year round

Hours Open

Summer hours: June through September 10am – 5pm Wednesday to Monday Fall/Spring hours: October 1 - October 31 and April 1 -May 31 Wednesday through Sunday 12-4 Winter: November - April Saturday-Sunday 1:00- 4:00 pm

Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark

The park is located at the western limit of Downtown Lethbridge, bounded by the High Level Bridge on the north and Whoop-Up Drive on the south. Across the River is a growing suburb called West Lethbridge.

From Alberta Highway 3, take the exit to 1st. AVE SOUTH and CITY CENTRE. Turn right at the first traffic lights onto Scenic Drive South, from Scenic Drive turn Right at 3rd. Avenue South, then follow the gently winding roadway into the Riverbottom. The Fort is on the left.

Please note: many visitors mistakenly take Whoop-up Drive. This is an arterial roadway and DOES NOT get you into the Riverbottom; it only allows you to drive right through it (at 90KPH) and over to the West side of the city. There is no stopping or turnoff from this highway speed roadway til the Westside. {gwd}

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