There are some places that just keep you calling you back, time and time again. Sharples is one of those for me.
I don’t actually remember how I first learned of the Sharples elevator nor do I actually remember my first trip to see it in person. Sometimes you visit a place so many times they start to blend together.
For me, one visit sticks out in my mind. It was the cold January night in 2010 when my friend Miles and I went out to shoot it in the dark. As we were setting up to take photos, a couple of drunk fellows came driving down the road and stopped to see what we were up to. They told us we should have been there in the summer because they got some ladies drunk and got them to pose for some nude photos on the ladder next to the elevator leg. Yes, this is a very rural location and you meet all types of people out here.
It was on a visit in 2012 where I discovered the elevator had been chained up and locked and was now posted as No Trespassing. In keeping with the spirit of respectful rural exploration, I haven’t been back inside the elevator since.
The elevator was built in 1923 by Parrish and Heimbecker along a CPR spur line which ran from Acme to Drumheller. The original railbed is still very visible today, and is one of the shots I highlight in my video (see below). To the west of the elevator there remains some bridge pilings where the line once crossed over the creek, also visible in the video.
The original elevator had a capacity of 30,000 bushels. The elevator used to have two annexes, both built in the early 1940s. The one on west still remains and added seven bins with a capacity of 26,000 bushels. The east annex has been torn down (date unknown) but the concrete foundations are still visible, as is the connecting pipe which used to lead to this smaller (14,000 bushel) annex.
Sharples once had a second elevator. It was built in 1927 by the Alberta Pacific Grain Company and was later owned by the Alberta Wheat Pool. When the railway line was closed in 1982, the AWP opted to demolish their elevator whereas P&H sold their’s into private hands. Anyone have photos of the second elevator in their collection?
So, all that remains is to check out the famous Sharples elevator from the air:
Sharples – Parrish & Heimbecker Grain Elevator Limited. (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=2&ObjectID=HS%2B38505
Interesting. We were out there today, and its wide open again and no signage was on the elevator. We didn’t get close up shots as we seen there was teenagers roaming around the elevator, and we felt a bit uneasy. We’ll be back though! 🙂
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Sharples does have a bit of a bad vibe sometimes. That old fella that Miles and I met out there really made me feel nervous, although I’m sure if we had popped a beer with him he would have been quite harmless. Interesting the elevator is unmarked and open again, likely the local teens decided to ignore the posting and tear down the signs and chains. It’s a shame this old girl is getting worse and worse over the years.