Uranium City one of 15 Canadian ‘Places’ that HuffPo finds both ‘creepy and beautiful’


Main Street, Uranium City, in the fog
Main Street in a fog

This article appeared in the Huffington Post (Canada) a couple of months ago. A friend sent it on. Good thing too, otherwise I would have missed it entirely. Uranium City is featured as one of ’15 Canadian Places That Are Equally Creepy and Beautiful’. Included is a short write and photo gallery, with one photo of Uranium City’s Main Street, and a short write-up:

One of the more famous ghost towns in Saskatchewan is Uranium City. It was close to achieving city status and then collapsed upon the closure of the Eldorado Mine and the mass exodus of its population. Today, roughly 70 people inhabit the town in order to keep it alive.

The photo is by yours truly, which is why the friend contacted me. HuffPo got it from my flickr page. They didn’t contact me or ask me or anything BUT they did credit me, which is something. This photo has turned up on everything from Uranium City’s wikipedia page to various (small-time) articles and not once did anyone even credit. Such, such is the age we live in . . .

The photo was taken in the summer of 1997. A fog had set in over the town, so low you couldn’t even see the neighboring hills. The town was completely isolated – the fog prevented planes from landing and taking off and the silence was very definitely eerie. Usually the wind is up, and you have the steady background sound of wind, swaying trees, rattling objects. On that morning, every sound was buffeted by the fog. Later, the ravens settled in, and filled in the background silence with their strange caws and cries, almost human sounds that are as much a part of the North as bush planes, blowing snow, and skidoos. For a few hours, until the fog lifted, it felt like Uranium City was the only town in the whole world.

You can read the article and see 14 more beautiful and eerie Canadian places here.

Uranium City 1996-2003

Click on box on upper right to open to full page

All photographs @copyright Tim Beckett

These are among the dozens of photographs I took of Uranium City between 1996 and 2003, during which I visited the town four times. During this period, the town dropped in population from just under 200 to less than a hundred, especially after the hospital closed in the summer of 2003.

At the time, I wasn’t confident enough to photograph people (and have never been more than an amateur photographer anyway). Instead, I focused on the landscape, and the empty buildings. The majority of the buildings in Uranium City were built in the ’70s and even early ’80s – right up until the point when Eldorado Nuclear announced on December 3rd, 1981 that they would be closing their mine in six months. Thus, Uranium City presented a startling site: a town of modern buildings, largely abandoned, left to decay for two decades as they slowly sink back to earth

The combination of the startling landscape, and these empty houses, was compelling, overwhelming, mystifying, particularly since I’d known the town when every house and building had been occupied – when it had been growing. I am slowly sorting through my collection and will continue posting as I digitize and clean up the photographs I took in this period