The Wild West Town of Garnet, Montana

It’s the next instalment of our “Coastal or Postal” vacation. This time we’re heading up into the mountains near Missoula, Montana to visit the preserved ghost town of Garnet, Montana.

Once a thriving mining town dating from the late 19th century, today it is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management who protect the remaining buildings and sites from vandals and souvenir hunters.

It’s a great place to visit so come check it out with us…

Garnet is open year-round, from 09:30 – 16:30, however in the winter months the site is only accessible by snowmobile or cross-country ski trip. As of the time of our visit there is an admission of $3 per person which is used to maintain and preserve the town.

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Back on the Road – Polson, Montana

In September we hit the road for our vacation. I dubbed it the “Coastal or Postal Tour 2019” because last year when we started throwing out vacation ideas I said “It has been ten years since I’ve been the Oregon coast — I swear if we don’t go coastal I’ll end up going postal.”

Now, admittedly, that isn’t an original saying. I stole it from a Geocache page I read many years ago while caching in Oregon. A couple had placed a whole series of hides using the name “Coastal or Postal” so I borrowed the idea.

We also made a number of comments relating to the old Oregon Trail video game, including comments about coming down with dysentery and Tucker the Dog needing to serve the role of oxen. One of our friends (Shoutout to Kelly!) even joined in, reminding us to bring an extra axle.

But, before we could reach Oregon we headed straight south into Montana. Our first destination was Missoula because Emily had bought concert tickets to see Ben Folds and Cake at the KettleHouse Ampitheater.

It was on our way to Missoula when we saw some billboards for the Miracle of America Museum. Well, we had enough time to stop in and we were blown away by the quality of this collection. But, don’t take our word for it, some see for yourself!

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Alderson – The Star of the Prairie

From humble beginnings as a railway siding known as Langevin to the “Star of the Prairies”, Alderson was set to be one of the most important population centres on the Canadian prairies. How did it all end up as an “Empire of Dust”? Come with us as we visit the remains of the ghost town of Alderson and explore a story of broken promises and shattered dreams.

Part documentary, part vlog, all Alderson.
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A Visit to Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat

The Medalta Potteries site was a fixture of the Medicine Hat community for more than fifty years before shutting down for the final time in the latter half of the 1960s. After sitting abandoned and neglected for several decades, today it is home to a great museum that houses an amazing collection of stoneware, pottery, and displays. Let’s check it out…

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50th Annual Show and Reunion at Pioneer Acres

Join us as we check out the 50th Annual Show and Reunion at Pioneer Acres Museum near Irricana, Alberta. From horses to fire trucks, we get a chance to see a bit of everything as we make our annual visit to this gem of an Alberta museum.

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Happy Accidents — Westerdale Church

Sometimes you stumble across something that can only be described as a “happy accident”.

Tonight I found myself doing some research on the ghost town of Alderson. Alderson is a place I have visited multiple times and I was trying to come up with a fresh perspective for an upcoming visit later this month. I was looking at old photos of the Alderson School and was thinking it would make a good focal point for the video I am planning.

While digging around the archives regarding old Alberta School Districts, I decided I should probably update my Excel spreadsheet which is where I store the information I have gathered about the various school districts I have encountered in the province.

I was searching through my photos and stumbled across a picture of Westerdale School. It was dated February 19, 2007. I don’t remember many details of that day but seeing as how it was a Monday I imagine it was Family Day and I was taking advantage of the long weekend by doing some Geocaching.

Westerdale School – February 19, 2007

I wasn’t sure where Westerdale was so I decided to look at other photos I had taken that day. One of them was of the Westerdale Church. I did a quick search online and found an article written by BWBandy about a miniature roadside church. I remembered that little church, having stopped in once and driven by multiple times. The little church stands as a tribute to the original Westerdale Church which stood on the site from 1904 – 2009. I remember during my visit I had thought “Damn, I would have loved to have seen the original building.”

That’s when I finally clued in. (Hey, it’s late and my mind is starting to wind down so I can go to bed.) I had seen the original church! It was right there, captured in my images from more than dozen years ago.

It’s unfortunate I hadn’t taken more time to look at the church back in 2007. I should have taken better photos; I should have tried the door to see if it was open. Unfortunately, that opportunity would never come again as the church would be torn down just two years later. That surprises me considering I have seen buildings in much worse shape last much longer than the Westerdale Church. All things considered, it didn’t look that bad in those snapshots.

So, the whole thing is a series of happy accidents from how I fell into a rat hole that I started digging in Alderson, moved to schools in general , and then to Westerdale specifically. Those throw-away snapshots are also a happy accident. A long gone church from a long-forgotten road trip now brought back to light. While photographically the images are nothing special, just quick “documentation shots”, they now hold a much deeper meaning to me.

Westerdale Church is just another one of the constant additions to my list of “Places I Have Photographed That No Longer Exist”. Remember to capture those photos when you can because you never know what will disappear next.

A windswept prairie road in front of Westerdale Church – February 19, 2007
Westerdale Church just two years before it would be demolished
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A Drive Through Vanscoy, Saskatchewan

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