Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sunday in Abasand

I took advantage of some sunny weekend weather to get out to some trails in Abasand. This is a small subdivision on a hill across from the downtown. I had been hoping to get out there to explore for sometime now for many reasons. Firstly, at one point back in the 1930's I believe Abasand was home to a salt mining operation and essentially a separate community from Fort McMurray. Secondly, I was also keen to check out the Horse River, whose terminus with the Athabasca we had seen many times from the west side of the river. Looking across, we could always see people fishing at the juncture of the two rivers and it looked like an interesting spot to visit....if only we could figure out how exactly to get to it. I was also curious to see what kind of bird life might be on offer.

A few reminders of Abasand's past....

I came across this large gravel clearing early in my hike (where I also spotted a couple of white-tail too). Perhaps this is where the old plant once stood. I'd be curious to know.

Juncture of the Horse and Athabasca Rivers. Not the best of pictures granted but I was struck at the difference in water colour between the two...the chocolaty brown of the Athabasca and the tea-coloured Horse River. Finding this spot turned out to be quite the challenge and at one point I was tip-toeing along a very narrow trail along the top of the cliffs mere inches from a 100 foot drop into the Athabasca. But find it I did and the views were pretty spectacular.

Fantastic views from the valley above the river.

I walked along the river for a good couple of kilometers until I couldn't make it any further along the mucky banks.

Sandy cliff faces along the river bank provided some great views.

View of the bridge (3 of them actually) across the Athabasca.


deanne said...

Hey, your photos are stunning. you are correct about the salt campany. A gentleman named Alfred Von Hammerstein came to the area in the late 1800's to search for gold. He was educated on the interest for oil and began drilling in several areas;one being at the mouth of House River. He instead found a natural salt formation and created the first salt company here (the second being in Waterways). What was also in the Horse River Valley was a company called Abasand Oils Ltd that opperated between 1936-1945. The foundations and such you photographed are remanants of that oil plant. A fire occured in 1945 and the plant closed down. ALmost everything got shipped away to other communities to be used.

Way Way Up said...

Thanks Deanne. I'm not sure my skills are all that great but I was pretty pleased with how some of the photos turned out if I do say so myself.

Thank you as well for the filling in the details. I had read a local history book a few months ago but was a little hazy on some of the details. I really wish I could have gone along on the recent historical tour but sadly, work obbligations got in the way.

Way Way Up said...
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Alpha Loonie said...

Hey Way Way Up, Would you be able to give me the general location of the exchanger shell? I hike behind abasand lots and have never seen it. Maybe I can plant a Geocache there.
Can you PM me with a google maps pin on where you think it is???

Way Way Up said...

Hi Alpha Loonie...Yes, it definitely is a great area to explore. It's been awhile since I've been down there so I'm a bit hazy on the details but if you're asking about the structure I think you are it's located down an old road/trail behind the condos there. I recall following it from where it started close to the one school there for about 1 km....it was located just off of a large clearing there in a little bit of brush between the trail and the Horse River....a crumbling cement structure with graffiti on it. Again, I'm a bit hazy on the details but I hope this helps somewhat.