There are so many things to see in the badlands of Alberta that it is impossible to see them all in one trip. Our normal strategy is to simply pick a couple key things to target and then try and fit in other sights as time allows. On this mild late-January day, our targets were the abandoned grain elevator at Dorothy and then Sam’s Saloon in Rowley for pizza night with some friends.
After stopping for a quick Geocache , we continued on to the village of Rosebud. The village is known for its dinner theater, which is something I’m sure we’ll take advantage of some day, but on this visit we’re more focused on some of the old buildings in town and the scenery of the valley surrounding us.
The next stop was Taylor Siding, a place neither of us had been before. There is not much left there other than the remains of a couple of buildings and some wonderful old cars which have, unfortunately, been damaged by gunfire.
We finally make our way to Dorothy. This is a town which has changed much in the almost twenty years since I first visited it. The two churches are no longer abandoned and in disrepair and instead have been fully restored. In addition, a number of the lots appear to have been cleared up and are much less weedy. While you can’t say Dorothy is on the rebound, it certainly has stopped sliding into oblivion.
As a side note, Dorothy makes a couple of brief appearances in the music video for Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway”. You can see the elevator appear between the 1:22 and 1:26 mark and one of the churches appears in its original rundown condition between 2:14 and 2:31.
The grain elevator is now on life support, having its roof blown off by a terrible windstorm late last year. While it has been open to the elements for quite some time, having the roof missing will certainly hasten the demise of this local landmark.
When we arrive in Dorothy, there is a fellow there setting up a quadcopter to shoot some footage of the elevator. At first we thought he was a structural engineer or something but we would soon learn his name was Garnet Price and he is simply a fellow abandoned places enthusiast. He has a YouTube channel and I’ll update this posting if/when his footage is posted.
EDIT: Garnet’s footage of the Dorothy elevator is here!
After Dorothy, we had two more stops to make — both of them bridges. The first is the large wooden bridge which linked East Coulee on the north side of the Red Deer River to the Atlas Coal Mine on the south. The bridge is in a sad state of repair and is another Badlands landmark likely to disappear before too long.
Access to the bridge is now prevented by two new-looking chain link fences, one on each end. This is a far cry from the porous protection methods which did little to deter me from venturing out onto the bridge ten years ago. I highly recommend you visit “Off the Beaten Path” and read their write-up there about the bridge, not only because of the amount of detail but also because they are friends of DanOCan.com.
The second bridge is much better preserved but no less interesting. It is the Rosedale Suspension Bridge, which was used by miners in Rosedale to access the Star Mine. We ventured across the bridge to the north side and then returned to the car to allow Tucker the Dog a chance to test his footing — he did perfectly fine!
And, finally, we worked our way north to the ghost town of Rowley, AB. On the last Saturday evening of every month, the locals volunteer to cook pizzas in the community hall and bring them over to Sam’s Saloon where cheap beer, free popcorn, and all sorts of conversation flow with ease. Locals mix with tourists and everyone has a great time.
Had a wonderful time with guys at Sam’s Saloon! Such a special little place, good company and wonderful memories. The building remains at Taylor Siding include the former elevator operator’s residence. Railway and Main – the most important intersection in nearly every small prairie town.
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