Masthead image

Along a line, known as Highway 61, in deep southern Alberta, eerie cries from crisp prairie winds can be heard, mournful reminders of early 20th century attempts of rural prosperity. Long-forgotten towns include Skiff, Legend, Bingham, Nemiskam, Altorado and Pakowki. But a few still hold on - Wrentham, Etzikom and Orion.

The latter was born in 1916, and two years later, following steady, copious rain and a plentiful crop yield, the population grew to 150, with a main street boasting three general stores, an hotel, bank, blacksmith, and cafe.

Abandoned store
Abandoned house
© Johnnie Bachusky
Abandoned residence
© Johnnie Bachusky
Rusting trucks from 1920's
© Johnnie Bachusky
Orion grain elevator -1966
© Johnnie Bachusky
Rusting trucks from the 1920's.

But then came a decade of drought, dust storms and grasshoppers. Orion struggled on, even until today as the tiny hamlet still has seven residents.

But there are streets of empty homes and buildings. In recent years, Orion's grain elevators have been leveled, adding one more nail to the community's coffin.

© Johnnie Bachusky
A shot of the old grain elevator at Orion, taken in 1996. They were torn down in 1997. In recent years, many small Alberta communities have witnessed their grain elevators leveled.