A couple of weeks ago my Ma was in town visiting. We had spoken in the past couple of months about visiting the wee town of Wayne, Alberta, and her being here for the weekend made it top of our list of things-to-do. What fascinated me most about the idea of the visit was that apparently one must drive over eleven (count ‘em, eleven) one-lane wooden bridges to get to the town.
We struck out late-morning, heading in the general direction of Drumheller, since Wayne is just a couple of dozen kilometres to the south. Our first stop took us directly past the turnoff for Wayne and down to the “ghost town” of Dorothy.
Once big enough to host three grain elevators, a grocery, a butcher, a pool hall, and a restaurant, little remains today. I understand that even not long ago there were some derelict building from days past, but it appears that they have largely been removed. There are, however, two interesting old buildings once used as churches for the area. Much restoration has been done in the past five years to preserve the buildings. Though now decommissioned as churches, one was used for a wedding just in the past couple of months. Also still standing is one very impressively solitary grain elevator.
From Dorothy, we drove back up Highway 570, stopping briefly to have a look at the old Atlas Coal Mine. Though we didn’t go in, it was plenty busy, as it now operates as a museum. The old mine is a National Historic Site, and 42 reviews on TripAdvisor rank it as 4 1/2 out of 5. If you’re in the area, plenty of people from around Alberta and the world highly recommend it as a great attraction. One gent from Utah says, “Anyone who treks out to Drumheller without seeing this site is missing half the show.” Noted! I’ll be sure to stop in there next time.
Next up was the town of Wayne, our official destination. Once home to some 2,500 people, the population now stands at 26. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were over 1,000 people in the immediate area. With the Last Chance Saloon and Hotel, a historic building that dates back to the heyday of Wayne, it still operates as a saloon, restaurant, and (near as I can tell) a no-frills hotel.
By happenstance, someone I knew was actually in that town of 26 residents that same day for a family reunion. That’s pretty neat, I think. The old Band Box hanging in the corner, the various and sundry ephemera the decorate the walls, and the old-timey feel of the whole place make it easily worth a day trip from Calgary.
Since we were in the area, we also paid a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. In all my many years, not once had I ever before visited the museum. Man, is that place amazing. You know, if you like dead dinosaurs…and I do. Out of interest, I had always pronounced it as Teer-ell. The girl at the counter informed us that it actually rhymes with “squirrel”. What a tremendous resource and attraction this museum is. If, like me, you have always thought of visiting but never have, I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. If, like me, you are youngster-averse, visiting after 6:00 pm is also recommended.
Ford got me there and back
I must give a shout-out to Ford Canada. They very kindly and generously lent me a 2012 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson edition. Oh my. I miss this truck every day since I have given it back. From the automated running boards to that sweet black paint job to the ass-chillers (yes, there are chillers built right into the seats), this was, hands down, the sweetest truck I’ve ever driven. I made sure to make my trip out to Wayne during the week I had this baby. It seemed like the absolutely perfect ride for a trip into Alberta’s badlands. Given that I’m kind-of auto shopping right now, I may just need to make an F-150 Harley Davidson a regular part of my “getting to and from places”. Thanks for the ride, Ford Canada!