This Land: Sandon Ghost Town

May 26, 2022

Sandon Ghost Town is mostly family owned and operated by the Wright, Pellowski, and Turok families. This historical site receives no government funding. It exists due to the dedication and passion of these families, their friends, and volunteers. And it’s FREE. (Camping is $15 non-electric, $20 electric, including firewood.)

We came to see the trolley buses, but we were so captivated by the history. We arrived at dusk and easily found a campsite along the river. We walked around the ghost town briefly, but it was getting dark, so we decided to save it until morning.

In the morning, we went to the little mobile cantina operated by Vida Turok. She was serving up an enormous breakfast to Hal Wright, the station manager of Silversmith Power & Light Generating Station. Hal invited us to join him, and we ordered breakfast too.

Hal is so passionate about Sandon. Although he’s an engineer, he’s a brilliant historian. We were drawn in by his wealth of knowledge. He also told us about the trolley buses and how the collection will include a bus from every place they originally operated.

Brill Trolley Interpretive Display

Each trolley bus has a history. Once Hal knew our personal history, he told us which buses would be of interest to us because they were once in cities where we had lived. Bus #2368 once traveled the streets of Saskatoon. There was a photograph of it in service on September 26, 1969 at 20th St. and 2nd Ave.

Trolley buses were preferred over streetcars. Because they rode on tires rather than rails, they could get around stopped traffic. Most of the coaches in the collection were doomed to be wrecked, until they were rescued. Some had sat at auto wreckers for years. Others had been used as bunkies at cottages. All of them are fascinating pieces of Canadian manufacturing history and slices of urban life.

Silversmith Power & Light Generating Station

Hydro electricity has been generated in Sandon since 1897 at this original historic facility! Hal Wright is the station manager and he maintains and operates the equipment as it always has been done. No computers here! He records electrical levels, pressures, etc. using pen and paper in a log book. The machinery is fascinating. It was so well designed that friction is extremely low. The bearing housings were at ambient temperature. Hal will give you a free, personalized tour of this working artifact. His enthusiasm is contagious. Be prepared to be amazed!

Sandon also has a steam locomotive and freight train exhibit, a visitor’s center, a museum (operated by the Sandon Historical Society), and numerous hiking and biking trails.

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