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The last train has left Rowley but the ghosts have returned ...

Many locals in the Rowley area agree the town slipped into ghost town status in the seventies. But slowly, and then spectacularly in the eighties, it rebounded to prominence. But now the prairie phantoms are once again calling.

Rowley Map Since the early years of the 20th century Rowley has been a train town, a place where people crowded the station daily to meet people, load grain and receive supplies. Before roads and highways were built, trains carried their hopes and dreams through drought, grasshoppers, storms, fires, depression, and modern-day urbanization. But in 1997, the last engine passed, and the ghosts are calling again.
CNR Railway Station
© Johnnie Bachusky
Photo courtesy of the Rowley Community Association.
The CNR Railway Station.
The weathered old grain elevators that stand in Rowley are the monuments of the town's heritage and identity. When they were built following the railroad's construction through town in 1911, homesteaders staked their purpose in the new undeveloped territory of Central Alberta. The railroad came to carry the grain. It also delivered mail, and George Swallow became the first postmaster in 1912. Rowley was officially born. When the rail line was built, it serviced homesteaders from Stettler in the north to Drumheller in the south. Rowley, along with nearby Rumsey and Morrin, was one of several whistle stops established every 10 kilometres.
Deserted boxcar near grain elevators Prairie School Museum/Former Schoolhouse
© Johnnie Bachusky
A deserted box car reminds visitors that Rowley was once an important train stop.
© Johnnie Bachusky
The Prairie School Museum. The one-room school was used by students in grades 1 through 12.

Slowly, homesteaders built a community, but with each advance, came challenges. Year after year, there was the blazing heart of summer and fierce winter snowstorms. The dryness led to many fires in town and at homesteads.

Abandoned Rowley residence Lion's Oil Garage
© Johnnie Bachusky
© Johnnie Bachusky
An abandoned residence.
Lion’s Oil Garage was originally built in 1920 and housed the town’s first electrical generator.
Like every prairie region, there were also droughts and dust storms, particularly during the great Depression. But most homesteaders stayed and worked the land the best they could. Even today, nobody seems to know how big a town Rowley became. But everyone seems to agree the late twenties was its heyday, reaching a population anywhere between 80 to 300 people.
United Church Long closed Pioneer Hospital
© Johnnie Bachusky
© Johnnie Bachusky
Rowley’s long closed pioneer hospital.
The backside of Rowley’s United Church, which remained active until 1969.
Former Municipal District Office Rowley Trading Post
© Johnnie Bachusky
© Johnnie Bachusky
The former municipal district office. The Rowley Trading Post operated from
1920 to 1973.
Locals and visitors to Rowley shopped at one of the town's three stores; buy some lumber at one of the yards or shoot some pool. There were schools, a church, hospital and a community hall. Farmers and ranchers did their business at the municipal district office on Main Street. Locals are proudly right wing and conservative, and many even chuckle at the term redneck. Outsiders are spotted immediately. Residents are blunt, speaking their minds freely and without a hint of reservation.