Yeso, New Mexico
Ilford Delta 400 film (35mm)
By now, you’re well aware that I love to explore the out-of-the-way places in the middle part of this continent. The great thing is that, in spite of doing this for more than 25 years, there are so many thousands of miles of roads out here that no two trips are identical; each journey is filled with discovery and its own brand of satisfaction.
Even so, I have a long list of favorite places—highways, dirt roads, scenic vistas, natural formations—that I’ll happily visit again and again whenever I happen to be in the vicinity. The list includes several tiny prairie towns that, for one reason or another, always bring a smile to my heart.
Lily, South Dakota has been on that list for many years.
This post comes to you through the efforts of an online friend, Cam McLean, who recently shared some of his photos taken in the ghost town of Robsart, Saskatchewan, and inspired me to visit this interesting place on my recent journey through the area. Be sure to check out Cam’s portfolio here. Thank you, Cam!
As I rolled slowly into Robsart from the north, I spied two men having a conversation in front of the community hall. I parked on the edge of the street and walked forward. They greeted me warmly and one of the gentlemen guessed correctly why I was there: “You read online that this was a ghost town, right?” That man, Lorne, smiled and told me that he had lived in Robsart his entire life and had never seen a single ghost.
I spoke with Lorne for quite some time; he was very friendly and happy to talk about life in this tiny prairie village. One might consider Lorne to be the “mayor” of Robsart, as he now owns most of the abandoned properties. He informed me that five of the homes are still occupied. While we talked, I could see children playing in a back yard down the block.
Lorne’s story of Robsart is one familiar to people in small towns and rural areas all across North America: Young people wanting to move to the cities for more opportunities and excitement, and small, family farms being swallowed up by gigantic commercial farming operations. There are no services in Robsart, and folks have to drive across the plains to one of the neighboring towns for food, fuel and other needs.
Lorne, tired of fighting the caprices of the weather, has decided to get out of the crop game and let his fields go to grass so he can raise cattle. But he has no plans to leave Robsart.
Every ghost town has a story; I’m glad that I had the chance to hear this one from a proud resident.