The Ghosts of Transit Past

Vintage BC trolley buses on display at Sandon, BC.Have you ever been to Sandon, BC? It’s not exactly a place you happen upon. Ascending into the Selkirk range from the town of New Denver on Slocan Lake, it’s just a short jaunt up Carpenter Creek. The town is one of BC’s most famous ghost towns, not bad for a province with hundreds of ’em! I have a bit of a thing for these places, like Phoenix near Greenwood, BC. Like many others, Sandon has a rich history of mining and pioneering, and with that came brothels, bars and 5000 residents all vying for a piece of that mineral pie. There was even a battle for railroad supremacy, complete with sabotage and scandal! Within 20 years, however, the boom went to bust and the rest is history.

Somewhere along the way, a few decommissioned electric trolley buses from Vancouver found a home in the open air of this (mostly) abandoned place. Maintained by Hal Wright, one of Sandon’s only residents, these ‘Brills’ date back to the 40s and have become a magnet for curiousity seekers and history/transit buffs. I’d been hearing about this place for a few years and finally had a visit. The location is very nice, tucked into a tight valley with towering green all around. Classic Kootenays! The buses were right there on the side of the road, an open-air museum as they are slowly restored and kept in shape. There seems to be a lot to do on that front! Didn’t make it into the museum, and it’s best to check if/when it’s open before visiting. The texture & colour of rusted metal, weather-worn wood and vintage design hits all the marks for me, I could have spent a full day photographing here. There is also an old ‘iron horse’ dating to 1908 if trains are your thing – the Steam Locomotive 6947 in all it’s black beauty.

If you decide to go, bring your hiking boots and take the winding road up and out of town to approach Idaho Peak, an incredible ridge walk taking you up to the peak and a lookout with 360-degree views of the Kootenays. Lakes, mountains, and meadows as far as the eye can see. It really is something to behold.

Sandon, BC.

(click the first image below to view them all larger – recommended!)

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