The Snatch Team

BY Linda C Butler
Told by Charlie Vance

I worked in the winter of 1928 hauling freight with horses to the Sherritt Gordon mine near Flin Flon.  We hauled in a freight swing, which consisted of a number of teams hauling heavy mining equipment on sleighs through a clearing cut through the bush.

When we came to hills we used a snatch team, an extra team of horses added to the front of the regular team and sleigh, to help pull the load up the hill.  This second team snatched onto the first team, assisted them up the hill, then unconnected and returned to the bottom of the hill to help the next team and their load. I drove one of the best team of horses so I often got the snatch job.

One time when we stopped on the frozen lake to give the horses a drink, a fisherman with a load of frozen fish stopped, hurriedly watered his horses, and then departed ahead of us.  He got to the hill and started up, but his horses could not make the climb.  He was stuck, unable to go forward or back.  We came behind with the freight swing and I was forced to assist him with the snatch team to get him to the top of the hill and out of our way so we could go through.

The fisherman insisted that he didn’t know that the hill was there, and told us that if he had known, he would have taken only half his load, unloaded, and then gone back for the other half.  I didn’t believe him as I had seen him rush ahead of us, knowing that we would be forced to assist him so our horses could climb the hill.

We had so many problems traveling in the winter with horses that we didn’t need the aggravation of this delay. I was annoyed with the fisherman and swore at him.  Later on we became friends and he always reminded me of the way I cursed him when we first met.


About Linda C Butler

I write pioneer stories from the Herb Lake Ghost Town in Manitoba. Please do not re-blog this material or re-publish without my permission.
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