Detroit Lakes, MN: Oct. 6, 2012 – Soo Pass Ranch

On our way back to Bismarck from our visit to northern Minnesota, we stopped at Detroit Lakes to visit the Soo Pass Ranch.   In the early 70’s Barb’s folks and siblings ran a dude ranch named the Soo Pass Dude Ranch at the site.   Barb was attending college in Minot at the time, but worked at the ranch in summers giving trail rides and teaching riding.  She lived in one of the small red cabins that remain to this day.  The horses are long since gone, the ranch house has been expanded, the barn converted to other uses, and the venue has converted to a massive site for an annual music festival (We Fest) as well as other events, including a snow mobile rendezvous.   On the day of our visit, the place was deserted, save for a single groundskeeper.   He was extremely gracious and gave us an impromptu tour of the facilities.

4 thoughts on “Detroit Lakes, MN: Oct. 6, 2012 – Soo Pass Ranch

  1. Michael Sorenson

    Our family was there for about 3 days im the early 60’s. We had a bunkhouse and rode horses. Still have a few pictures of us on the horses.

  2. Maureen Francher

    In 1952, I was 5 years old and attended a family reunion at the Soo Pass Dude Ranch. There were two cowboy/bar tenders named Duke and Seese (Ceese), who seemed to be the heart and soul of the ranch. I think they were employees of the owners (names unknown) who had a son around my age named Curtis. My family rented most, if not all of the red cabins on site. Maybe one had a private bathroom. There was a shared stand alone bathhouse at the back left of the buildings. This was before the highway was constructed on the West side of the property, so trail rides were an instant ‘time travel’ into a muffled sound of plodding horses and squeaking leather under a canopy of filtered green. There was a horse named Topper, that was assigned to me, a totally inexperienced child. Topper liked to pause and eat grass by the side of the trail. I was too small to control the animal and he ‘threw me.’ I still carry a scar on the inner lower lip as a reminder of that event. Seese had a horse named Chico (VERY tall with pinto coloring). I was carefully put on Chico’s back to derail a fear of horses. It worked. The question for anyone is “when was the ranch built as a tourist destination?” It seemed, to my 5 year old mind, to already be well aged the first time I saw it. There were other family reunions through the decades. The last time I visited was maybe 2004. The red cabins and the bar/restaurant were still there. The smell of the aged wood cabins was as I recalled. Most surprising was the use of the facility as a music festival. So unique to see the stage for that summer’s WE fest to be over the place where I was tossed from that horse.


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