Flashback: Alderson 2010

Another in my series of lunch break postings from my phone…

I remember the first time I visited Alderson. It was exactly eight years ago today.

Armed with my “just over a year old” Nikon D90 (the same camera I still use), I came upon the mostly empty field where Alderson once stood.

Only a couple of buildings remained, along with some discarded buckets and just the faintest outline of a grid of streets.

The town was known as Carlstadt until the anti-German sentiment caused by World War I brought about the name change to Alderson.

The day of my first visit was somewhat windy but not overly cold. A layer of snow blanketed the ground. It was somewhat dreary, if truth be told. Of course the conditions were nothing as bad as the harsh conditions the residents of Alderson faced during its heyday.

Alderson was expected to be the “Star of the Prairies”, the major centre for miles around. Mother Nature had other plans and by the end of the 1930s it was all over for Alderson. Fires, harsh winters, and crippling drought would see the Star of the Prairies disappear.

On that initial visit I photographed everything in black and white. Given the light, the barren landscape, and the history of the location, it just seemed appropriate.

A subsequent visit in 2012 brought both color to my images as well as a more detailed exploration of the small Alderson cemetery located just east of the townsite.

It was my visits to Alderson which sparked my desire to learn more about the history of the TransCanada Highway. Prior to that first visit I never knew how many times the TCH was realigned in its relatively short history. The old alignment, which in this area ranges from well-maintained gravel road to nothing more than two dirt tracks in the grass, has created a desire to one day create a series of films documenting the history of the road. While it may not have the romance and history of the USA’s Route 66, the TCH is our “mother road”. It is a story told in multiple books, but one which I think needs to be told in a more visual medium.

Anyway, lunch is almost over so I need to wrap up this posting. The townsite of Alderson was the victim of a fire in 2015 (?) which eliminated the remaining buildings shown in my photos. (The buildings may have been destroyed before the fire, but I’m not sure.)

A prairie fire was a fitting end to the remains of Alderson. I highly recommend reading the 1987 book “Empire of Dust” by David Jones to learn more.

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