Saturday, May 1, 2010

Road Trip to See the Ghosts, Spring 2010, Pt 1: Conquest

Text and photos (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2010

This April, fellow photographer John Penner and I went on a two-day road trip through southwestern Saskatchewan in search of ghost towns.

These are not the cliched 1880's looking kinds of places, but towns where the economy has dried up and either everyone or nearly everyone has moved out. Some towns had no residents, some had just a few. Many of the houses were left wide open and ranged from either ransacked at some point, or actually relatively intact.

Here is the first part a photo journal of the trip, with photo descriptions. The photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Conquest, Saskatchewan

Conquest is not actually a ghost town, but we stopped because we found it interesting. It is however, a very small town, as the sign attests.

The town welcoming sign in the shadow of the grain elevator. Once a common icon in nearly every town in the prairies, many of these elevators are being torn down, replaced by modern metal silo styles by larger agribusiness, converted into local museums and galleries, or just abandoned until they fall down. They can be seen for miles.

There is very little around the elevator these days.

The railroad track passing the elevator, with the side for loading there now overgrown.

Spring weeds grow over the tracks near the rail split to the elevator

The local dealership, now closed. Note the car still inside.

The fading sign for the dealership.

It was spelled correctly on the other side of the sign.

The local Elks Lodge Hall, still used.

The one-car fix-it garage. There is a stacked pen near the garage door for small animals. Fresh food and water was in one of them (though no animal), and an empty bottle of soda pop in another.

Coop general store. The Easter decorations are still up nearly two weeks after.

The Bus Terminal; now people stop at Outlook, SK.

Still functioning hotel. Many small town hotels look almost exactly like this one.

This small house had dirt leading up to the front door, rather than steps.


  1. Wonderful.
    Zoar, Ohio was only slowly beginning its ascent from the weeds in the early 1970s.
    Knockemstiff, Ohio was a place I became fascinated with as a girl, sitting in a public library for hours and gazing at maps. I noted the name mentally -- KNOCKEMSTIFF. A ghost town, no one is sure about the name, and it is haunted, too!
    Greetings from France. I will try to photograph St.-Etienne when I am next out in Brittany. A whole ghost town of stone cottages. My husband's mother remembers when it was full of families and people.
    Nearby, on someone's land, is a 6th century chapel. I kid you not! They still find Roman coins on the ground, and there are still fresco fragments inside! (The art was TRIPPY then, egad!!)
    Our place in Brittany is a "hameau," a hamlet. Spooky, as one by one, the "neighbor's" houses fall, and the stones are eventually, grumblingly, carted off.
    Greetings from France!
    Lisa Falour (under construction)

  2. That is a great town name. There are quite a few here, too; one has to wonder what people were thinking! Hope you enjoy the rest of the series as well. They will come up every 5 days or so for a while.