Ghost Town, Saskatchewan: LaColle Falls Hydroelectric Dam: Photo Essay

Failed Dam slowly crumbling on banks of North Saskatchewan River

Remember that episode of The Simpsons when the big city huckster convinced the town of Springfield to build a monorail?

Back in 1909, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan underwent a vaguely similar multi-million dollar project: The LaColle Falls Hydroelectric Dam.

Located 45 kilometres east of the city, the dam was conceived of during a time of prosperity. Originally intended to produce electrical power, the dam was abandoned in 1913 when officials realized the futility of the project.

The LaColle Falls Dam cost Prince Albert $3 million, and nearly brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

Nowadays, the dam essentially serves as a place to get loser wasted and practice meagre graffiti skills.

A slowly decaying piece of concrete that looks completely out of place in the woods alongside the North Saskatchewan River, it’s still an amazing thing to see. That is, if you can brave washed-out grid roads and hordes of mosquitoes that will literally remove your gall bladder.

The drive, and the kilometre deathmarch from the road to the dam, is worth it – crumbled cement and stoic, rusted iron bars remain hammered into the southern edge of the river, while nature encroaches at a snail’s pace to reclaim the site.

That is, unless someone gets it together to do something with the ruins.

Among other ideas, such as turning the dam into a historic site, there has also been a thesis proposal to turn the ruins of LaColle Falls Dam into “a spa complex, an architectural insertion that will complete the dam, and present a positive alternative ending to its story.”

You can find the LaColle Falls Dam via Google maps, but beware – several of the grid roads to get there are flooded out. And it’s not exactly a casual walk through the woods.

Also, wear sturdy hiking boots – you wouldn’t want to step on a discarded needle on the way.

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