Aug 162013
 
Sheerness AB store

The four towns that are the subject of this report, Sheerness, Rose Lynn, Sunnynook and Carolside, are located in a remote corner of Alberta, far off any beaten path. Each lasted only a short while and in fact there is little to see today, but even so they still left their mark on the world, which we hope to explore.

These adventure takes us to the dry plains southeast of Hanna.

Our first stop is Sheerness, I believe what was once the largest town of the four. It’s home to a huge coal mine that butts right up against the old town site. In addition, there is an old store and school. Unfortunately when we arrived it was raining, no pouring, and any photos we shot were quick ones from an open car window. We hung around for perhaps half an hour hoping the deluge would dissipate (steamy windows!), but it didn’t and so we reluctantly moved on.

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As mentioned we did get a couple quick shots off however. The store, I am pretty sure it’s the store, is a long narrow affair. It leans and sags but appears in reasonable shape. Since it’s boarded up that will keep the animals and elements out. I pretty sure this building is the “Lucke’ store, so named for it’s owner Harold “Pop” Lucke, mentioned in the book “Roads to Rose Lynn”. In that article, a small picture of the building is shown, which is close enough in appearance to the one we see today, that I am fairly confident it’s the same.

This store was opened in 1923 and was operated by Lucke until the mid 1930s when he sold the business. It’s not clear what happened after that, which invites further research. One can assume the business operated for a time, perhaps into the 1950s, or maybe even longer. I doubt much longer though as the town was in decline after world war two. Farming was hard and coal mining was on the downturn and many people simply moved away.

The school is the only other building left in town. It’s an interesting structure and I’d sure liked to have gotten closer. The rain kept us in the car, but anyway the were no trespassing signs about, which we have to respect. It’s not clear when it was built although we know part of the building was a second school brought in from the town of Richdale north of Sheerness. It’s not known when this happened or even when the original school opened or when it closed. Data is scarce and so you can expect updates to this post.

In between the two buildings are some old foundations, but it’s unknown what they may have been. An access road leads to the mine from a spot just behind the store. The gate says Manalta Coals Ltd, which was the owner of the property back in the 1980s and 90s. The mine has changed hands a couple times since then.

A few people still call Sheerness home.

Detouring a bit, we check out the Sheerness Coal Mine nearby and it’s neighbour, the Sheerness generating plant. Together they are what we call a captive mine-mouth plant, meaning all the coal from the mine goes to feed the power station. In times past the output of this mine (there was actually several mines, all sort of consolidated into one) was shipped out by the railway to many customers far and wide. The first commercial coal mines here date from around 1910. We photographed one drag line at work, the “Prairie Rose”, a Page model 736 which has been here since the mid 1980s. We saw a second drag line off in the distance, but it was too far away to shoot.

Heading back, our next stop is Rose Lynn, but unfortunately most of the old town site it is on private land. It doesn’t look like much is left anyway. The only vintage building we could see from the road was the old school. We don’t know much about it other than it was the former the Mizpah school moved here at some unknown date.

Travelling down, or should I say alongside, the rail line we come to Sunnynook. We looked but could not find anything worthwhile to photograph. There were some houses, but nothing in the way of old buildings, foundations, remains or even signs of the old rail line (outside of one little concrete culvert). Nothing to see here…move along. By now the rain had mostly stopped.

Further down the line and the last entry for this report is Carolside. I’ve been looking forward to this stop as I know nothing is left. Nothing, no businesses, no houses. Since it’s located in an uncultivated pasture, and since no one lives close by, we have free run of the place. I know there is not much here, but I am hoping find some hints from past – perhaps some foundations, bits of old wood and brick and cement and the like. Little clues to help us connect to our subject.

This is my kind of place – rarely visited if ever and totally forgotten by everyone. Except by us of course. We are probably the first visitors in eons who have come specially to see the town site.

And sure enough we find what we are looking for, those bits of wood and cellar depressions we hoped to discover. One can make out a couple streets, the locations of buildings, the rail line and perhaps where the station stood, the former an earthen embankment right alongside the old rail line. There is no real way to know what each building could have been, unless we could find an old map or photo showing “downtown Carolside”, but so far none have turned up. In fact, this author has found zero pictures showing the town. We do however know one was here, now proven by our field research.

Oddly Google still shows the town map even if the streets are long gone. Like many small towns, the two most important thoroughfares were Main and Railway. Nearby we see what could be a buffalo rubbing stone. There are some in the area I understand, used as sort of a scratching posts by the passing herds. This one appears worn smooth, which is typical of these stones.

Rules of exploration: show respect, don’t trespass and take only pictures.

Based upon what little information we can find, Carolside lasted for only a few years. Founded in early 1920s when the railway came through, I am certain it did not last long. There was a grain elevator here until the late 1950s, but I am pretty sure the town was long gone by that date. It was a flash in the pan, a hoped for bustling community than never really amounted to anything.

Just north of the town (haha town) is a nice train trestle we found. Next visit, I may take the time to walk in to examine it closer. I am after all, the bridge hunter, among other things.

All the towns mentioned so far owe their existence to the railway which came through about 1920. This CNR branch, known as the Peavine Line, was built south from a point near Hanna, ending along side the Red Deer River at a place called Stephenville. They intended to extend the line all the way to Medicine Hat, and parts of it were constructed but never finished. This line was abandoned by the late 1970s and by then most of the towns were either gone completely or just a shells of their former self. Today, the rail line can easily be followed on Google Earth, including the partially completed section south to “The Hat”.

To be honest, I think I could have documented all these towns a little better than I did. The rain kept us at bay and trespassing on private property was another concern. I’m thinking the area is worth a revisit, perhaps armed with permission (if that’s even possible) to access some of the sites that were off limits.

While travelling in the area, we found three very interesting farms, one called the the Mink Ranch, the other the Burns Farm and the last, the Cessford stone house.

Update: October 2013. According to a reader of this blog, the Sheerness School closed in 1964.

If you like this artcile, you might enjoy these as well…
Rowley Alberta ghost town.
Finnegan Alberta.
Retlaw ghost town.

If you’d like to know more about these places, by all means contact us!

Date: August 2013.
Location: Sheerness, Rose Lynn, Sunnynook and Carolside, AB.

Sheerness AB store

Sheerness – the former store in the pouring rain.

Manalta Coal Sheerness

Sheerness – access to the nearby strip mines just behind the store. Manalta was a former owner.

Sheerness AB school

Sheerness – the school house.

Sheerness AB foundation

Sheerness – an old foundation in the rain.

Rose Lynn old rail line

Rose Lynn – the long abandoned CNR Sheerness branch (the Peavine line).

Rose Lynn AB school

Rose Lynn – the school.

Sheerness AB power plant

The Sheerness generating station.

Sheerness AB coal mine

The Sheerness mine which feeds the power plant across the highway.

Sheerness mine dragline

The “Prairie Rose” at work. We saw a second drag line, but it was too far away to shoot.

Sunnynook AB

Sunnynook – nothing to see here…move along.

Carolside Alberta

Carolside – the road into “town”.

Carolside AB remains

Carolside – old junk scattered about.

Carolside AB ghost town

Carolside – old planks hint that something once stood here.

Carolside AB

Carolside – old telegraph poles.

Carolside AB railway

Carolside – it’s hard to see but this earthen platform was likely where the train station was. The rail bed is to the left.

Carolside AB rubbing stone

Carolside – possibly a buffalo rubbing stone.

Carolside AB building depression

Carolside – a number of these former building depressions were found.

Carolside AB town

Carolside – outside of scattered junk there is not much here.

Carolside AB building foundation

Carolside – another foundation, according to Google on the comer of Main and Railway.

Carolside AB train trestle

Carolside – not far away we spotted this train trestle on the abandoned line.

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31 Comments on "Sheerness – Rose Lynn – Sunnynook – Carolside"

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Eric
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Eric

You sure do go off the beaten track! I haven’t been to any of these “towns,” but they are fairly close to our new stomping ground at Little Fish Lake, where we have acquired what I affectionately call my “hermit shack.” The missus doesn’t allow me to wander too far off the already remote roads that take us to Little Fish, but we do travel through delightful little hamlets like Dalum on our way there.

Mike Rose
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Mike Rose

Interesting to see Sheerness School. It looks unloved. My friend Janice went there. We were later classmates at Mount Royal College.

Eric
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Around us it looks like most of the homesteads, which presumably dotted the prairie around here at one point, have been torn down or rotted away.

Here’s one I did explore a month or so ago:

http://www.small-cabin.com/forum/1_3681_0.html

Dennis Lamb
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Dennis Lamb

I attended the old Sheerness school from grade1 to grade 10. The school closed in 1964.

Margaret Kingcott Baksa
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Margaret Kingcott Baksa

I also attended school there!! Rose Lynn school closed in about 1960 and I was bused to Sheerness until it closed.. then bused to Hanna..Quite booming compared to now. 🙂 great memories!!

Judi (Hoover) Legacy
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Judi (Hoover) Legacy

I loved attending this school. Had great friends.

Joyce Nee Heck / Goddeeris
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Joyce Nee Heck / Goddeeris

Joyce Heck /Goddeeris
I live now in Hanna. Moved away for 11years but have grandchildren here so moved back. I see Gloria and your niece every so often.

Gerald Murray
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Gerald Murray

I was born in Sheerness in 1953. Attended the Sheerness school. I went from grade one to grade four. That is when we were bused to Hanna school. I must have some photos of the old town site some where. A family by the name of Fidget (not sure spelling is right) bought the school and lived in it for years after the school closed. My best friends mom was the last owner of the old store. Last name of friend was wriggled but his mom remarried to an Owens.

Chris
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Chris

I used to live in the beige & brown house in Rose Lynn 🙂

Don Tipping
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Don Tipping

My Family homesteaded near Carolside, around 1914, My Father was born there in 1925

Bob Lee
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Bob Lee

Store at Sheerness was owned in the late fifties, early sixties by Audie Mellom and family, wife Edna, children Linda and Brian, believe was sold to Olga Wrigley who operated it till 1965é1966.
Frank Lee was principal at school from 1958 to 1962, Wife Eileen sons Trevor and Robert, Community Hall was two story across road from school land. Town was home to about twenty families at the Western Dominion Coal Co. and the Rose Lynn mine Co. Grain elevator and station were half mile north of store. Great fun feeding Kirks furnace in school when thirty below
Only homes with running water where the teacherage, foundation behind school and mine mabnagers house, still standing in trees to west.

Al Holtemeyer
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Al Holtemeyer
I grew up at the place straight north of the old store (about 1/4 mile), this was the original town site of Sheerness, there is still a basement hole from another old store (was located at the Northwest corner of our home place). One of my early childhood friends was the son of the foreman of the CNR Section Crew – they lived in the old stationhouse (no longer there), we had a couple of grain elevators, at one point in the history of Sheerness, there were at least a couple of medical doctors as well. Remember going to the store as a kid, I attended the Sheerness School for one year when there was talk about closing the school – was bused to Hanna with Gerald Murray and other kids from the area. I sold the Sheerness place in about 1996-97 to a couple of gentlemen that raised racing… Read more »
Wayne Chayer
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Wayne Chayer

I was raised in Sunnynook and left in the early 60’s after finishing school. I attended schools in Sunnynook, Sheerness and grade 12 in Hanna. I haven’t been back for a few years but surprised most of the buildings are gone. I recently setup a page on Facebook which would be of interest to anyone who knew that area. It’s at https://www.facebook.com/sunnynook.ab/ Come and check it out.

Clayton Heck
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Clayton Heck
I grew up 6 miles outside of Sunnyook to the Northeast. Just behind Ribstone, which is a potential historic site, and has lots of history associated with it since Indigenous times. My family the Heck’s were a fourth generation farming/ranching operation since 1900’s. Sunnynook has a great history and if you know where to look, you will see foundations of the old hall and other buildings. We knocked over a bunch for safety of the children in the community to prevent harm to them as they were old and ready to collapse. Even though I am only 40 years old, I still remember doing activities in there such as Halloween and playing hockey. There is also an old cemetery at the outskirts of the current town. Also along that same path is the old wagon track road for going to Berry Creek. You honestly did no work or even tried… Read more »
jim pearson
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jim pearson

Clayton Heck
I would be delighted if you would contact me at xxxxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx
We had a ranch in the mid 1950s east of Sunnynook.
I have many fond memories of the area especially branding time with Bill and Johnny Heck.

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