Ghost Towns

Yesterday, I went on a little adventure with Darryl, a friend of mine from photojournalism school. She’s just moved back to Calgary after living in Nelson, BC for some time. When she was talking about moving back here, I suggested we do a photo trip to look for ghost towns in Alberta.

After several hours of doing research and mapping out our route, I had a stack of paper and a hope that these places were still standing. There’s little explanation for this, but many of these places have been leveled in the last few years. My best guess is that before the Recession (I guess that gets capitalized now) when the boom was ever-present in Alberta, people leveled the majority of these places in the hopes they could renew the land. Or maybe, they did it just to rid themselves of what they perceived as an eyesore.

Either way, it’s a shame there aren’t that many anymore.

On our way to Orion, the first official stop on our route, I think I startled Darryl by how fast I stopped the car. We were passing by a wind-blown building that looked like it wouldn’t last another ten years on the prairie landscape. After crawling under some barbed wire (sometimes going under is easier than going over!), we found ourselves on the doorstep of what looks like it may have been an old church or schoolhouse.


We hung around for a little while, being bitten by noseeums and lightly scathed by prickers from the wild brush covering the landscape, until leaving to get the rest of the way to Orion.

IMG3_4724Four hours after starting out, we arrived at what turned out to be the highlight of our trip. I had thought Orion was a complete ghost town, but it seemed like there were a few people still living there. One general store, a post box outside, and a few houses was all that made up the town. Given the state of the playground, I think the current population has to be out of the parenting years…
Despite the living population, Darryl and I found two buildings that had been left derelict. The first was fairly empty, save for some left over magazines dated to 1967 and some birds who had made the front room their nest.

The home next door was decidedly more creepy. As I was approaching the door, I looked down and saw something out of a horror movie. It literally made me jump backwards, even though I hadn’t really been sure of what I’d seen, only that I knew it was flesh coloured.

The doll was not to be outdone, however. An enterprising bear piggy bank made its way on to the couch in the living room of this derelict home and stared at me with creeptastical eyes. It was one of those objects I’m sure moves around on its own at night, terrorizing the small populace of Orion.

Despite the detours involving a dirt road or two, no wait, make that a long dirt road or two, we made it back to Calgary alive and well. No bear banks trailing the car with murderous vengeance in its eyes.

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