Swift River, Yukon – A New Ghost Town

When does a town or village, become an official ghost town? At what point is it generally accepted or not rude to point out a place as abandoned beyond hope? Swift River Lodge closed in 2009. The owners, a brother and sister, left it when they could not longer run it due to lack of funds.

The most recent images I found show the buildings in the process of being torn down. In a report someone had said the population was 5 and then had gone down by 5. From that source the population seems to be zero now. I looked on Google Maps and there isn’t much in the area to be called a town or village. Maybe the town never was more than a rest stop on a long, fairly remote, highway.

Photos take by jimbob_malone, posted to Flickr. Thank you for permission to post the photos.

It’s not the only lodge or rest spot along the northern highway to be closed down or abandoned.  Source – Ghost Lodges of the Alaska Highway. But the story of highway motels closing up starts a couple of generations ago at least.

You can see a lot of abandoned motels along smaller highways. Places which had their best times in the 1950’s and 60’s, before the huge highways were built and many motels were cut off from the bigger source of traffic. Some of the old motels are gone, some were repurposed but you can still find others standing as they were when everyone left. (Beware of vagrants).

I Love a Good House

If my life had gone differently in my earlier years I think I would have become an architect. I love buildings and all the trimmings. I’m still trying to teach myself all the right names for the parts of buildings. I go out and take photos of old buildings, mainly derelict farm houses here in Ontario. I also like going to the main street of a small town or city and looking up. That’s where you see the fancy parts of old stores, homes and banks. Most of the old parts below have been renovated away.

Maybe I never would have been a great architect. I like the old stuff too much to make the modern looking type of building with more right angles than curves and more sensible and practical elements than elegant columns, gargoyles and gingerbread trim. It would be hard to design something just to stand there rather than to pose there.

I am still very attracted to anything building/ house related. Art with houses draws my eye. Even fiction about a house stops me long enough to at least skim it. The old woman living in a shoe caught my imagination from a young age. How did she live in that shoe? Did she use the laces to cool the house off in winter and then tie them up tight again to keep warm in winter? How did she put a roof on the shoe, was the sock still around to be stuffed over head? Did she make the eyelets for the laces into windows? Did she put the door back at the heel where it would have been strong but had that higher step down or somewhere else? So many questions. Living in a shoe didn’t seem that appealing all things considered.

I’d rather live in a castle, except I’d like a much smaller and cosier version of a castle than a real castle. A castle like Dr. Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside could work well. Like the Tardis, no one ever seems to need to clean it either. I have drawn my perfect house. It was harder to pick the location than the decide on what I wanted inside the house. But the harder part still was to limit myself to less rather than more when it comes to how the outside of the house will look. There are so many great old things that could be added. Small like old iron doorknobs to huge like a dragon sculpture taking up a large part of the garden.

I enjoy drawing unusual houses. I’ve drawn the shoe house. I’ve drawn a house made in a teacup. I’ve drawn a plan for how very small people would live in the standard sized world. I’ve drawn magical houses for elves, fairies and of course dragons too. There is something special about a house, any building really. People make them, plan them, live and work in them. Keep them. Repair them. It’s saddest of all when a place is abandoned and left to the elements.

There is a mystery to the abandoned places. Something time and people forgot. I never feel they are creepy or haunted. just sad and yet still dignified and majestic in some way. We give a house a power by it’s creation and everything we put into it beyond that point. You can’t just lose that when the house is empty. It’s there, right in the very design. I think I would have been an amazing architect.