Little (store) on the Prairie …
In the early 40’s, the business expanded to include rural mail delivery. Twice a week, mail was delivered east to west for 40 miles on a gravel route, bringing post to the surrounding communities and establishing Twin Butte as a central location for the area.
Oil companies began to arrive, bringing their drilling rigs and plenty of business. The little building expanded again, adding a book keeping office and the beginnings of a general store. Now customers could visit the small confectionary to purchase cigarettes, buy 5 cent chocolate bars and chewing gum or choose a pop from the brand new cooler.
Growth continued in the form of a 40-foot garage, establishing a tire and auto accessory business. It also provided shelter for the new 75-passenger school bus that took growing numbers of children safely to school and home again.
This little building was steadily becoming a community hub. Its expansion was slow but sure, drawing customers of all ages. The addition of a take-out-service added to its popularity, selling eager patrons milk shakes, hot dogs and ice cream.
Discovery of a shallow well on the property might not have meant much to some. But it inspired the entrepreneurial spirit of the owners, who decided to expand once again, adding:
Over the next 6 years, guest books were filled with comments from visitors that included everyone from neighboring communities to international travelers drawn here by Waterton Lakes National Park.
But expansion takes its toll, even on the most energetic entrepreneurs. After 30 years at the center of activity, the owners closed the doors on the Twin Butte Country General Store. The buildings sat more or less unoccupied for a while. People tried to revive the business, but the right owners and the right ideas just never seemed to happen at the same time.
In the 1980’s, the classic style of the building and its gorgeous natural landscape caught the attention of a Dutch film crew, who leased it to make a movie. They made a few changes, including:
It looked for a while that this film would mark the revival of the Twin Butte Country General Store. Instead, it brought devastating damage to the building. According to local legend, a fire was started as a result of the film’s wrap-up party, ravaging the property. The final insult was the toppling of the Dutch windmill by our famous southwest winds.
Sixty years later …
Today, the Twin Butte Country General Store is alive and well, thanks to Larry’s vision and his family’s ongoing dream. He restored the exterior of the buildings, leaving intact the beauty, charm and history of the place. Major renovations inside tell a new story. While customers can still drop by to pick up staples from the general store, they can also:
Twin Butte Country General Store is alive and well once more. It is a meeting place for locals, who gather to chat about what’s going on in the area. It attracts top-notch performing artists from all over. And while visitors come to experience the splendor of the Rocky Mountains, they feel drawn to the unique charm of Twin Butte Country General Store time and time again.
60 years after the first little building was erected, the Twin Butte Country General Store is a thriving place once again. Drop by for a visit and discover it first-hand.
based on information provided by Claire Bowen