A little town called Molson

I didn’t give the sign a second thought.

It said Molson Museum.

What would anything related to Molson beer be doing stuck in The Middle of Nowhere, Washington State, United States of America … other than possibly cans tossed out of a British Columbia pickup truck?

This Canadian (nationality, not the beer brand) gal didn’t even make the connection when she learned it was a ghost town.


Well, hell’s bells … I have to go now.

My American rolled his eyes. We met for a romantic getaway in what I estimated was halfway between my new locale, Kamloops, and his home in Spokane. We ultimately calculated that I got the driving advantage by landing in Oroville, a little town just south of the border. It’s on the other side of Osoyoos Lake. Many might wonder ‘why not Osoyoos and do some wine touring?’

It’s a simple answer: two prime rib dinners with one beer and one glass of wine in Oroville came to $50, including tip. Do you think we’d beat that anywhere north of the 49th parallel?

But I digress.

I begged and pleaded for a day of exploring. Shep, our faithful co-pilot, stood at my side, his head bobbing and tail wagging in agreement. My American’s shoulders dropped a few inches, he sighed and finally acquiesced, knowing he would be stuck for something to do while I snapped away with my camera.

We made our way down to Tonasket to grab some coffee — our first attempt at joe in Oroville fell flat — and headed northeast on Havillah Road, stopping at an abandoned farm for this one:

We cut through fresh snow on the seldom-travelled road once we started getting into higher elevations and then headed for Molson.

Typically, I dislike the pre-fab type of ghost town, like Fort Steele, B.C., and I may have been setting myself up for disappointment when we got to the little town. I didn’t want anything to be too new, too clean or too shiny.

It wasn’t.

While Molson — current population 35 — is set up for tourists, the buildings that are set up for viewing have not been restored to a painted, prettified existence. While they have a museum-like quality, with pictures of Molson’s bustling times pinned on the walls or artifacts thoughtfully displayed, the buildings are as they might have been found in their abandoned state.

A mossy wagon and other farm machinery sit in a nearby field.

And signs are posted to warn those who might choose to run afoul of the law.

It was a little chilly last Sunday and we thought we’d seen everything there was to the little town of Molson.

Except for the school house, which houses the museum but is closed until Memorial Day weekend (that’s Victoria Day weekend in Canada).

And then I saw the mercantile store. With this sign next to it:

The Molsons? The Molsons of the beer gods of Canada?

Yep. Sure enough, according to Ghost Towns USA.

The once boom town of Molson was started in 1900 by George B. Meacham, promoter and John W. Molson, investor. Molson operated the largest brewing company in Canada and owned the Molson Bank, with branches in every province in Canada.

Buildings couldn’t be built fast enough in the little boom town that started to go bust a year later after prospectors failed to pull up much gold.

The town shifted to two more sites before most folks picked up and left.

Now, it just sits and waits for occasional tourists, like a surprised Canadian, who stumbled upon the little site in search of a glimpse into the past … and maybe a ghost or two.

For more photos from our visit to Molson, check out the album on Google Plus.

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