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Rowley attracting visitors from afar despite pandemic

Central Alberta ghost town has plenty of attractions for backroad travel enthusiasts

ROWLEY — When a group of local men from Rowley staged their now legendary Break and Enter Party in the mid-1970s at the boarded up saloon, they had no idea their seemingly booze-filled reckless caper would trigger a remarkable journey of perseverance that would last almost half a century, and even beyond.

Their Central Alberta town, Rowley, was dying back then. Fifty years earlier, it was a proud pioneer community of up to 500 souls who had settled there on the promise of future prosperity.

It was not to be.

Due to the stock market crash of 1929, the subsequent Great Depression, the wrath of Mother Nature, the arrival of modern transportation vehicles and infrastructure, as well as the lure of urban life, Rowley was no longer a locale for future dreams. With its population dwindling down to a few dozens diehards, the town was doomed.

That is until the boys, slightly drunk and disorderly, hatched a plan. Rowley could become a sacred relic of the past, where folks would certainly come to get a glimpse of days gone by.

And so it is in 2020.

Rowley is a place where thousands of visitors come from all parts of Alberta, Canada and beyond to get a glimpse of a much simpler time, when country grain elevators symbolized a town’s prosperity and the train station was the ultimate meeting place.

And yes, folks also come just to tell folks back home that they too had beer and pizza at the legendary Sam’s Saloon.