Return to Nordegg

When faced with a Sunday and no real plans, what else to do besides jump in the car and head out and visit another one of Alberta’s historic places?  Today’s journey takes us to the ghost town of Nordegg and the remains of the Brazeau Collieries.

This is not the first time I have been to Nordegg.  Even going back to a child on family camping trips to nearby Rocky Mountain House, we would drive past the Nordegg turnoff.  I remember asking my parents “What’s in Nordegg?” and they would answer “Nothing, just the remains of an old mine.”  Well, what a way to stoke the imagination of a child already fascinated with old abandoned places.  When I would ask if we could visit, they would tell me “No, it’s a prison now so you can’t go in there.”  Rather than being some parental white lie told as a means of shutting down my imagination, they were telling the truth for this was the era when the Alberta government was, indeed, running a minimum security prison on the site.

It was not until adulthood that I was able to visit the town properly.  In fact, I even got to take the complete tour.  The date was July 26, 2002.  My images from that era are poor quality captures, done with a JVC digital camcorder which took stills at a staggering 640×480 resolution.  Oh, how I wish I had either been shooting film at that time, or at least shooting with a “real” digital camera of the era.  As I would see on my current visit, much has changed and I wish I had better captures of that visit from more than 16 years ago.

I made a second visit to Nordegg with a group of Geocaching friends in August of 2014.  That trip was more focused on caching than history, however.  Emily and I would make the trip up here via the Forestry Trunk Road again in May of 2017.  However, being pre-Victoria Day the tours were not yet operating so we couldn’t see the mine site, just the town.  You can see the drone footage of that trip here.

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So, on my fourth official visit to Nordegg, we finally were able to do the tour.  We learned that, unlike the tour I had done back in 2002, the tours are now broken into an “upper” and “lower” portion.  The upper tour focuses on the two remaining mine entrances, the ancillary buildings like the shower house, power house, and warehouse.  The lower tour focuses on the briquette plant where the coal was fashioned into briquettes — for use in steam locomotives, not your Weber grill.

We tried to book spots on both the 10:00am tour as well as the 2:00pm tour so we could see the whole thing, but they currently weren’t offering the lower tour because of some sort of issue — I believe I heard it was related to the foundation of one of the buildings or something of that nature.  So, the upper tour it was!

The upper tour lasts about two hours.  You can only access the collieries site with a guide.

After the tour, we went back into the town and checked out some of the changes since our last visit.  The old bank has been placed on a new foundation, has been painted and sealed off from the elements.  Dang it, I knew I should have taken photos of the inside when we were there and it was open.  There also has been some touch-up work done on the old service station too, but nothing compared to the changes made to the bank.

We also took time to visit the cemeteries, both the main town cemetery as well as the grave site dedicated to the 29 miners who died in an explosion inside the #3 shaft back on October 31, 1941.  There was an older coupler doing some cleanup work in the town cemetery, clearing brush and cutting grass.  An employee of the historical site came by and shut them down.  We couldn’t hear the conversation clearly, but it sounded like their efforts were not appreciated by the staff.  Not sure what the story was there.

We tried to tour the museum housed inside the heritage centre, which is the old school.  However, it was locked and staff told us they had hoped it would be open by now but circumstances were preventing it.  Again, not sure of the story there.

Anyway, you’ve read the story so now you should check out the video of our tour.  Come visit Nordegg with us!

Date of Visit:  July 29, 2018

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Downtown Drumheller

In between our two days of exploring the Badlands, we had some time to wander around downtown Drumheller and take in some of the sights.  Two tired people, a dog, and a camera — sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

 

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Alberta Ghost Town Tour: Part 2

And, it is done.  I have finally completed the video from the second day of the annual Alberta ghost town tour.  While it seems the summer is moving so quickly this year, there are still plenty of explorations to come before the snow flies.

Hope you enjoy the video!

Kirkpatrick

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Alberta Ghost Town Tour: Day One

Each year since 2014, we get together with a group of friends and tour around the small towns and abandoned places in an area of Alberta for a weekend.  This year our tour took us back to the area surrounding Drumheller and the Alberta badlands.

In previous years I would always consider this a photography trip, but my focus this year was less on the photos and more on video.  Whether it’s a symptom of owning a drone or simply the desire to branch out into a new medium, I find myself becoming more interested in telling the story of the places we visit using video versus photos.  Is it a phase or a new direction for DanOCan.com?  I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So, I invite you to take a few minutes and join me on a video tour of our first day of the Alberta Ghost Town Tour, 2018 Edition.

Golden Grain School

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Camrose Heritage Railway Station

I originally thought this post was going to be more video-based but I failed to capture enough footage to make any sort of compelling video.  So, instead, it becomes another blog post with some photos.

We stumbled across this museum by accident.  At least it was an accident in terms of planning on visiting it.  We were driving through Camrose and saw the signs on the road and decided we should take a few minutes and visit.  It was already getting late into the afternoon and we still needed to get home to release the dog before his bladder exploded.

The Camrose Heritage Railway Station and Park is run by the Canadian Northern Society.  We are well aware of this group thanks to previous visits to Big Valley and Meeting Creek.  In fact, the group was very accommodating to us and made a special effort to get someone to Meeting Creek to let us into the railway station there as part of the Central Alberta Museum Tour 2017.  I’ll link to my YouTube videos of those places down below at the end of the post.

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The main museum is housed inside the 1911 Canadian Northern Railway station.  This is not the original location of the station, as it was originally located a bit east of the main town core but it was moved here in the early 1990s prior to becoming a museum.

The museum grounds also house the Morgan Garden Railway, a G-scale railway which contains models of a number of familiar sights, including the aforementioned Meeting Creek and Big Valley.

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In addition, there are a number of smaller buildings on the grounds as well.  These include a watchmen’s shed, which was originally a passenger shelter as well as a railway bunkhouse.  Each building contains photos and artifacts which highlight the railway history of the area.  Camrose was an important railway hub for the area, with both Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific running lines into the town.

Back inside the main museum, there is the White Elephant Gift Shop which is stocked with various items donated by the community to the museum.  Proceeds from the sales go to supporting the Society and their efforts.  We bought a couple of small things.

I feel like this place deserves a far better write-up than I am giving them but, as I mentioned above, this was an unplanned stop and a brief visit.  We’ll be sure to check them out again at some point when we have more time to do a proper visit.

This visit occurred on June 9, 2018.

Here are the links to my videos from Big Valley and Meeting Creek.

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We Finally Make it to History Road

This post is more visual than wordy.  Take a little trip with the DanOCan.com crew as we make our way up north to attend an event I’ve been trying to get to for several years.

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We Knew Little of New Norway

For our next visit we’re going to move a little further north up Highway 21 from Ferintosh to the village of New Norway.  New Norway has a population of less than 300 people but has a lot of interesting old buildings and was quite fun to drive around and explore.

New Norway achieved village status on May 31, 1910, although the post office bearing that name was established as early as 1903.  The name was apparently in common use going back even earlier to 1895.  There really isn’t a creative story behind the name.  The Olstad family arrived in Wetaskiwin and purchased some homesteads south of that area.  Many other families of Norwegian descent settled in the area with them and hence the name.

New Norway dropped from village to hamlet status in 2012.

The building which is most eye-catching is the Bethesda Lutheran Church.  It was built in 1910 and the steeple stands tall above the town, rivaled only by the water tower. It was hard to get a nice shot of it because of all the power lines which ran through our shots.

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One of the houses which appears to be unoccupied

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The building has a beautiful mural painted on the front

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Service stations of this vintage are always a favorite of mine

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The Community Centre dates from 1939

Not much to say on this one. We were just passing through and grabbed some shots so we didn’t spend much time in the town. Neither of us had been here before so this was a bit of a voyage of discover for us. No goals other than see some things we had never seen before.

Date of visit:  June 9, 2018

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