Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sunnyslope Shelter: More Than Just a Room

I was pretty stoked to finally go see this place. I built it up enough that my 7 year old was not uninterested...excited would be going too far. After seeing it, he rolled his eyes (something he seems to be getting better at, lord help me) and said, 'Mom, it's just a ROOM!".

Earlier that day...

The Sunnyslope Shelter has been on my list for awhile and I finally had the perfect time to go. After a busy Saturday of hanging at the lake, paddle boarding and hanging out with friends and their kids, Sunday was more low key. We had a relaxing morning and headed out early afternoon, it is just over an hour SE of home. I love how so many things are about an hour from my house, of course stopping to see unplanned things and taking back roads always makes it more than an hour.

We arrived at the location. It was hot, it was on a dusty gravel road, it was perfect. Not much around, a farm or 2 in the distance, a compressor station, and out in a field of wheat, you spot it. A door. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It's impressive and vaguely Hobbit-like. There was no way to access it from the front without trampling the wheat, which I was not going to do. On the other side off a lease road, was a narrow but distinct path through the wheat to the shelter. I didn't feel comfortable walking through the crops. There was also a sign posted next to the shelter reading, "Danger: Reclamation in Process. No Trespassing." I had to zoom in with my camera to read it. My son was disappointed that we were not going to see it up close. This was the first disappointment of the day for him.

Objects in the photo are farther away than they appear.
I drove back to the gravel and proceeded to take a few shots from the road, good thing for my trusty zoom lens. As I was sitting there, a bit (a lot) discouraged that we had driven all the way here (but not discouraged enough to trespass), a truck came by and stopped to ask if I was lost. I said no and explained that I was just taking photos. He was not the owner of the land, but knows them and said it was OK to go see the shelter, but to stay on the path, don't drive to it! Who would drive to it I wondered. No one I hope. I took it as a sign that the only human I'd seen on these roads was OK with it. He gave me his name just in case and left.

When I first thought about venturing into this underground crypt, I envisioned various creepy crawlies, murderers hiding out and a skunk family waiting to spray unsuspecting visitors. First I noticed the handle and slide lock were covered with webs, meaning no one had opened it recently. Phew. I opened the door as wide as possible to let in the sunlight. It looked safe. It was. Nothing to be worried about at all. It even had a covered skylight. It was cool (temperature cool, but also cooool cool). It isn't very big, only 10'x 12'. I couldn't imagine living in it, but 2 hardy souls did, one during the winter of 1902-1903 and another at various times in 1904.

Below is the history of the shelter, this note is stuck to the inside of the door. I forgot to take a photo of it but found this one at rovinghiker.com. Thanks Internet!


Take a journey with me to One Mans' Castle:

Stay on the path!

Made it.

Threat level minimum.

Nothing flew out..

Hellooooo?

Roomy

Skylight! 
So that was it. My son was not blown away by it's historical awesomness. I tried to explain it's significance and that it was built before Alberta was even a Province, by the pioneers that made this province. I however, was impressed by this place and it's history and truly glad I was able to see it.

25 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Thanks for the history and the photos. Did you take a photo of the skylight from the outside too?

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    1. Thanks GeoWyrm! I didn't take a photo of the skylight from the outside. I definitely couldn't see it through the vegetation but didn't look very hard.

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  2. Pretty incredible for anything to stand that long

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    1. Hi Adam, I agree! Hopefully it's around for a long time, it seems like it's constructed very well.

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  3. That had to be quite a thrill to see it up close and personal. It's great to see it preserved, giving later generations a chance to see it. There's an old miner's dugout on the Milk River Ridge on the north side of the river. It was owned by a man named "Petronia." He lived alone and worked a small coal mine. Every once in a while he would walk to Milk River with a large sack of coal and return home with a few groceries. I saw the remains of his dugout back in the 60s and all that was left was part of a couple of stone walls and a tiny window frame. I don't know if anything remains of it today. I should go out there and see it while I'm still able. Too many things get put off. Thanks for featuring your story.

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    1. Hi George! It was fascinating to see up close and inside. It's in great shape! I like to hear stories like that, about Petronia. The stone walls might still be there, would be worth a visit. Thanks for reading my blog!

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  4. What a fascinating post, Jenn! That is surely one of the most unique residences in all of Alberta!

    Speaking of hobbit residences, the last time we were in the village of Rosebud, Alberta (probably about 2-3 years ago now), we saw a home there that was a hobbit hole! Some guy banked over a container (i.e. a sea-can or a box-car or something) with dirt so that it was buried like in a hillside and made a classic round hobbit door as the entrance. Very cool. I took some photos but never got around to posting them on my blog.

    I like the premise of your blog very much. The small, forgotten places here on the prairies are often full of hidden gems and hidden history!

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    1. Hi Debra! Thank you so much! I've will have to look for that next time I'm in Rosebud! How cute would that be. So much to see on the back roads!
      I enjoyed your blog as well. 😊

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    1. It really is!! Thanks Michael.

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    1. Thanks Steve! It's so cool seeing that door just sitting there!

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  7. That is so cool ! Lucky you got to go in :)

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    1. If I was a kid leaving near there, it would be my hideout.

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    2. Living...living near there

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  8. Hi Jenn :)) I LOVE this! The hobbit door looks like you could be entering a forgotten world almost, but I guess the reality strikes when you open the door! It's an interesting bit of history. Thanks for posting! :)

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    1. Hey Rain! Even though I saw photos of the inside before I went in....it's easy to imagine it being something more mysterious..oooohhhh!

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  9. I would love to photograph that shelter. I've seen images of it before. We recently discovered an old abandoned copper mine in BC and it was great fun to see and explore and this looks similar.

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    1. Thanks Glen! It's pretty small inside but still a really interesting place.

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  10. So cool! Great pics. Been eyeing up that place for a long time...but have yet to be. You know how it goes, a million things to see, only one me and only so much time. I'm ready to be cloned! I swear.

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    1. Thanks Chris! My 'to see' list is long...I bet yours is even longer....one of those scrolls that keeps unrolling like in the cartoons. haha

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