Archive for July, 2014

In search of ghost towns

Posted in Abandoned buildings, Arelee, Balmae, Bents, Biggar, Cazalet, Driving, Environ, Feudal, Ghost towns, Keppel, Marriott, Maymont, Saskatchewan, Travel, Tweedyside, Weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2014 by Amanda

There are apparently a lot of ghost towns in Saskatchewan. Apparently about half of the towns that have ever existed in the province no longer exist. There doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive list of all of the ghost towns though there are several websites that each list a bunch but they definitely do vary and there is a book published way back in 1982 that was probably pretty comprehensive then but, of course, much has changed in 32 years. I think part of the problem is that the definition of the term “ghost town” isn’t all that clear. Some of the towns I have found listed as ghost towns definitely still have some residents but are much smaller than they were in the past and they do have some abandoned buildings, while others just have crumbling buildings and still others, look like nothing but an empty field.

Anyway, I had been meaning to go look for some ghost towns for a few months now but I just hadn’t got around to actually doing so. This morning I had an early start as I was on the road by 7:30 which was a smart move as rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. Of course, I could have decided to wait until tomorrow or next weekend, but I really felt like doing this now! I decided to look for some ghost towns that are located not all that far from here. There are many ghost towns in southern Saskatchewan but I think I’d really need a long weekend to do that (I may do that eventually).

Not long after I turned off Highway 16 at Maymont, I saw a sign warning about the poor condition of the (paved) road. The road wasn’t great but it wasn’t as bad as the sign led me to believe and with little other traffic (I saw almost as many deer on the road as other vehicles), it was that difficult to drive around the worst of the potholes. However, I really wouldn’t want to attempt driving on the road at night or in bad weather!

The first town I stopped at was Arelee. It definitely wasn’t a ghost town by my standards are there were clearly at least a few people (and one dog) leaving there. However, I did see an abandoned church and some other abandoned buildings.

Arelee

Arelee

After that, I had a really exciting surprise. I was driving along and I saw an abandoned school and when I stopped for a closer look I saw that it was unlocked. It was in a place called Balmae. This place doesn’t seem to be on any maps I can find. I think with looking for abandoned places that you really need to keep your eyes open as there are lots of places with no signs that aren’t on maps or in your GPS.

Balmae

Balmae

Environ, on the other hand, was in my GPS but I didn’t see anything there so I didn’t bother to stop. Maybe I should have stopped as perhaps there was something visible upon closer inspection?

After that there were a couple of towns I wanted to see but I really wasn’t comfortable with the look of the road that lead to them. It just looked very uneven.

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Keppel

I then proceeded to head to a place called Keppel. When I entered the road that led here it looked like a normal, albeit rather narrow, gravel road. As I proceeded I started to wonder if it was some farmer’s driveway but as there were real road signs and as I did see a truck driving on it and the driver waved I do think it must be a real road. Anyway, Keppel had just a few small buildings. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that road though!

I then headed for a place called Cazalet. Just before I reached the supposed site, I entered two separate train tracks quite close together which was kind of weird. I couldn’t see any evidence of the former town though.

A while later, I noticed a plaque near a field so I stopped for a look. According to the plaque, there used to be a schoolhouse here. The place was called Tweedyside. Just a tiny bit further, I encountered an abandoned house with “interesting” graffiti on its front and one of the sides exposed. I’m thinking this may have been part of Tweedyside too but I really don’t know. For some reason, there were also a bunch of signs with what looked like bullet holes in them in this area.

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One of the signs with multitudinous holes!

The house in (or near) Tweedyside.

The house in (or near) Tweedyside.

Next I headed to Feudal. There was an abandoned building but there was also a house being built. Maybe this town is having a bit of a revival?

I then drove to Bents which was very interesting. It had an abandoned grain elevator, some abandoned tractors, and a bunch of abandoned buildings. Some of the buildings still have things in them (books, furniture, appliances, shoes, a teddy bear) after many years.

The Bents grain elevator.

The Bents grain elevator.

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The inside of the one of the abandoned house in Bents.

Just a short drive from Bents, I found another abandoned house that still had some stuff in it though not as much as the places in Bents. A door slammed while I was looking through one of the broken windows; I think it was probably just the wind but who knows! There were abandoned farm buildings across the street.

The house with the slamming door.

The house with the slamming door.

There were a lot of abandoned buildings on the roads I drove on but I opted only to stop for the more interesting-looking ones. If it weren’t for signs/my GPS, I don’t think I would have recognized the difference between the “highways” and the “unnamed roads.” I think I saw a grand total one other vehicle between Cazalet and a ways past Bents!

It was around noon by now and the sky was starting to get rather dark. I decided not to look for a couple of ghost towns on my list but did look for Marriott as it was on the way to Biggar (where I stopped for lunch). There were some rundown buildings at that location but there were also occupied buildings behind them and a lot of “no trespassing” signs.

Not long after leaving Biggar, I encountered quite a bit of rain but by then I was driving on a decent, paved highway so it wasn’t a big deal.

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