after a week in cranbrook we decided to spend some time outside of the city for a change and headed to fort steele. i, for one, was ecstatic about the idea because of two things; one, we would be even closer to the mountains, and two, we would be even closer fort steele heritage town.
for all of you who don't know (probably all of you), fort steele was a gold rush boom town founded in 1864 by john galbraith. there is a bunch of interesting history on town name changes and such, but i don't want to go into that here. mainly, i want to talk about how this boom town turned into a ghost town. really it is all the fault of a mr. james baker. you see, the canadian pacific railway wanted to build a station in fort steele, therefore having the railway pass through the town, but mr. baker, a member of the british columbia legislature didn't like this idea. he owned a logging camp nearby called joseph's prairie and wanted the railway to build its station there. after some bribery, blackmail, and one "lost" letter declaring fort steele as the place for the station, mr. baker got his way. fort steele was bypassed by the railway and the station was built in joseph's prairie. mr. baker renamed the logging camp "cranbrook," then sold a lot of land to a lot of people who abandoned fort steele for the more happening city. and fort steele became a ghost town. shoot.
and my story intertwined with this history on august fifth when we went to visit the now heritage town, which is a preserved tribute to the history of the old west, or something. samuel and i really just wanted to take one of those old fashioned photos, you know the ones. they were really busy though, so we went to kill some time and explore the old west. yee haw.
it was almost closing time, so we literally were like two of maybe ten people in the whole place. talk about a ghost town. sam walked with peyton here and there and kept leaving me behind while i snapped photos of basically everything. it wasn't so much fort steele that i was fascinated with, but just the ideas that started bouncing around in my head.
...continued after a million pictures of this beautiful place:
i thought about my life as we wove through these old buildings, watching the sun twinkle through old stained glass, buying old fashioned candy, and opening old, old books inhaling their musty goodness. and i thought about all the situations where i turned my path in a different direction. sometimes it was just a small meander, other times, there were sharp corners. but all these meanders and sharp corners and twists and turns add up. and i thought about all the little ghost towns that lay at various distances away from the track of my life.
there was all this time that was invested, and friendships, and lives that i had spent days, years even building and nurturing only to leave them behind. and part of you, or i guess part of me wonders what would have happened if i had stayed and nurtured those little ghost towns. how would things be different now? if i wouldn't have veered two degrees to the left right then, or if i wouldn't have turned around when i did? what then?
i suppose that there will never be answers to these questions. and how grateful we should all be for that. how amazing is it that life never plays movies of "where your life would be if...." ambiguity. isn't that what makes this experience beautiful? we know not what could have been, only what can be. and we have the power to make it be. how cool is that?
so i'm thankful, for my ghost towns. because i never have to visit them, if i don't want to. and unless they are preserved, they will eventually crumble and decay. and that, my friends, is wonderful. life doesn't wait for you to romance your past. it keeps chugging along, and you are either on board, or you get left behind in a ghost town.