Once a subject is photographed and the images processed, we enter the research phase. This can take no time at all or it can be a long, painful, drawn out process. For most gigs it falls somewhere between the two. Regardless, budget constraints means we often can’t commit to more than a specific amount of time or resources, overall, with which to accomplish a job. Go beyond and we have to “abandon” the project (some irony there) and move on. Fortunately, it’s uber-rare that we come up short. But, it’s the reality of what we do.
We’ve been buffaloed (to puzzle or baffle, confuse or mystify). That’s not to say the information needed is not out there, just that given what we had at our disposal, we couldn’t find it. We called around, knocked on doors, spoke with the very land owners, scoured the internet, history books, records, hours and hours of searching and came up with bupkis. No names, dates, nothing solid to tell us who lived here, who farmed here, what their story was…nothing. We couldn’t crack the case.
Still, there’s something here, in the subject we’ll present. The photos say something, even if we don’t know many specifics. And that’s worth a look.
The location is Special Area Three, a very remote and lightly populated section of Eastern Alberta. Not much out this way. One can travel long distances here and not see a single person. Stand, look around, and it’s endless fields off in every direction. Complete nothingness. Working farms? Just a couple, here and there. No vehicles were seen the entire day we explored.
There’s a house on the property, a pretty typical farm house really, quite unremarkable. We know the area was not settled until late in the 1920s. It’d be safe to assume this place is from around that time. Scattered about the property are the usual assortment of out buildings, barns, chicken coops, sheds, who knows. Some are near falling down. We have no idea when the place was abandoned. A guess, the 1950s/1960s based on what we saw lying about.
Out behind the property, blocked from view by a row of hedges, so out of sight, out of mind, is the back forty. This is the place where old metal, worn out vehicles, junk and farm machinery, goes to die. They were dragged here to be forgotten about. Most of it is bits and parts from this and that. A Post Wold War Two Chevy truck, what’s left of it, is about the only thing that can be positively identified. No doubt, it’s been here a while.
At the far end of the yard is remains of another truck. It’s crushed and bent, appearing to be be mid to late 1950s era Dodge or Fargo. Experts, please chime in. Between us and it is the carcass of a dead cow with some hungry Coyotes hanging about, precluding us from taking a closer look.
A Servel refrigerator lies in the grass. These were common in rural areas, for places “off the grid” (no electricity). They operated on propane or natural gas. Based on photo found online this one appears to be a 1940s era model. The firm was in business from the 1930s-1950s. Know of this brand, it’s the first we’ve seen in person.
A crude sign near the fence line by the road makes mentioned of a “private” school being on the property for a couple years in the late 1920s. There is an empty foundation just down from the house, which I suppose was where it stood. Makes sense and it looks about right in size. Attempts to look into provincial school records, which we have access to, turned up nothing. In fact no school of any kind comes up in the area.
Getting all we can get, we head back to the car. Then it hits us. Standing there, looking over this abandoned farm yard, we’re taken aback. There’s no sounds, but the occasional wind gust. No cars pass by. Blue skies overhead, wispy clouds, a big open sky. These old buildings and left-overs from farming, a power line and dusty back road, endless fields of grain, so many signs of civilization, but still there’s no signs of life. It’s overpowering. Hard to imagine feeling more remote or isolated. How did they handle it in the old days with no phone, no electricity and bad roads? Quiet contemplation.
But more dusty township and range roads call. Time to move on. Not all that close to this place, but by virtue of all the emptiness, its nearest neighbour, another farm in found. Here only a few sheds and a small cabin for hired hands (our guess) remain. Nothing of note really. Till we open a door. Damn! Creepy doll moment! I swear someone set that up.
If you know more about the stuff seen here and want to add to the story, comment (further down the page) or send us an email. We’d LOVE to hear from you. It’s been bugging us that we failed in finding anything here. Hate coming up empty. It’s only happened once or twice before, and we don’t like it one little bit. Please…help us feel better.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: October, 2016.
Location: Special Area #3, AB.
Article references (and thanks): Russel K, George H, Our hosts: Jason & Rebecca Sailer.
This site is private property. BIGDoer.com visited with permission.