News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3257
Last updateFri, 19 Jul 2024 12am

Rowleywood, ghost town ‘gem’ next door

    For many, ghost towns conjure images of tumbleweeds and by-gone cowboys who still haunt the saloons and hotel rooms of empty, deteriorated buildings that dot the prairie landscape.
    But not all ghost towns are forsaken, as the ones surrounding the Drumheller valley still hold the same spirit and determination of the ranchers and farmhands who pioneered the west.
    Rowley, a half hour drive north of Drumheller, is a ghost town that is all but dead.
    “Rowley is one of the best preserved ghost towns,” says Chris Attrell, creator of and an avid ghost town fan himself.
    “It’s a rare gem, just a gorgeous place.”
    Having travelled to Rowleywood (dubbed this for marketing purposes) many times, Attrell knows a gem of a town when he sees it.
    He adds that it is also one of the best preserved ghost towns he’s seen.
    His website has information and photos of around 500 ghost towns throughout Canada.
    The death of these towns is often formulaic; the train station, elevator, general stores will close and leaving right after them will be the families who have lived there for generations.
    “These towns are dying right in front of our eyes, you can take a photograph of a grain elevator and it may disappear in years time.”
    Not in Rowley though.
    The community association owns the museum, Sam’s Saloon (a café turned bar/pizza haven) and other buildings, with the intent to keep the scenic town on the map forever.
    Peacefulness is what keeps Christopher Foesier, one of only six residents in the quiet town.
    Quiet only until the last Saturday of every month where hundreds of thirsty travelers hang their hats in Sam’s Saloon for their infamous pizza night, a tasty chance to soak up the by-gone vibes that emanate from the old bar.
    “When people in Rowley save and preserve their buildings, I think that’s very special. It’s unfortunate that many of these other towns do not have the same community spirit as they do in Rowley.”
    Attrell believes that most of these towns are doomed.
    No one really wants them to stay, land owners want dilapidated buildings to be removed, people want change.
    This is what drives him and his fellow enthusiasts to photograph the beautiful reminders of our past while he still can.
    “It really captures the sprit of what a small town would be like in the 1940’s, they do it without commercializing it too much. That’s what not only brings people in once, but what brings them back over and over.”
    “One day, probably not Rowley, these buildings will go to the wayside. You can drive by an old grain elevator one day and the next it’ll be gone.”
    These towns are our history, says Attrell, it’s what we were like, and it’s who we are.
    Rural communities are feeling it coming with the closing of rail-lines and grain elevators that have been the arteries of the community. With those disappearing, the towns will almost inevitably turn into ghosts themselves.
    “It’s the way it is.”
    But with the help of observant camera lenses, these towns can be kept in our history forever, regardless if the buildings can’t be.

Photographer receives commendation from international photography contest


    A Drumheller man’s photography is turning heads, locally, provincially and internationally.
    About five years ago Darryl Reid took his photography to the next level, going from a hobby to craft at the urging of friends. He has stepped out into the photography world, and it appears that it has begun to pay dividends.
    His work received a special commendation from a jury of the 2010 Sony World Photography Awards. This means he was in the top 50 entered in the landscape category. This is one of the most prestigious photography contests in the world, and quite a feat as there were more than 45,000 entries overall in the contest.
    The photo chosen is entitled 'Carved in Sand', and it is a long exposure of the hoodoos taken at night, using only natural light. This is one of Reid’s favourite techniques. 
    “With a long exposure, details you can’t see in the dark begin to come out,” he said.
    With international success, he is humbled, but also proud of another work that was shortlisted by the Visual Arts Association of Alberta.
    This photo, entitled 'Crop Buster' is a dramatic capture of an anvil cloud. His work will be on display with other selected works in Edmonton this summer.
    Many may already be familiar with Reid’s work, as he was featured the Drumheller Public Library in May, and he will have another exhibition in August. His entry in the Sony World Photography Awards will be published in a book with other selected works from the contest in the near future.

Tanke to relive pioneer days of dinosaur hunting


    One of the Royal Tyrrell’s fossil preparation technologist has been working for almost a decade to prepare for a five week re-enactment of the first major dinosaur hunting expedition, setting off from Red Deer to Dinosaur Provincial Park on a flat-bottomed boat.
    Darren Tanke, one of many volunteers, has built a replica of Barnum Brown’s, one of the leading palaeontologists of the era, flat-decked scow, and launched on Tuesday, June 29.
    “In the course of my laboratory and fieldwork at the Royal Tyrrell Museum,” says Tanke, “I became interested in the paleontological heritage of our province, particularly the people who worked here long ago. I think the best way to truly understand what our paleontological forefathers went through is to try and live, as closely as possible, the way they did on their early fossil hunting expeditions. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try this on my summer vacation.”
    Tanke has scoured archives for details about Barnum’s trip and the scows design, and is preparing to relive what it felt like to travel to the plentiful bonebeds of the Drumheller region and the rest in the badlands of Alberta.
    “It’s been many years since an expedition has systematically explored this section of the Red Deer,” says Tanke. “With erosion rates of about 1 centimetre per year, there’s a good possibility we’ll discover new and important specimens and bone beds.”
    Great care has been taken in designing the scow and equipping it with period tools that Tanke found in antique stores during the past eight years. Equipment includes a wood burning stove, upright ice chest, antique furniture and many other period replicas or restored antiques. The scow will essentially be a floating museum, taking one back to the early 20th Century.
    The five week voyage will end at Dinosaur Provincial park on August 7 where a public celebration will be held.


The Drumheller Mail encourages commenting on our stories but due to our harassment policy we must remove any comments that are offensive, or don’t meet the guidelines of our commenting policy.