Aug 27, 2012

Medicine Hat Brick & Tile Plant Site

One of the pleasures in shooting a photo series about unique local sites in Medicine Hat, Alberta is that it allows people to look at places they've seen many times in new ways, or discover a place they may have overlooked or never even knew existed. Perhaps what I've enjoyed most is that Around the Hat has allowed me to make connections with individuals linked to a lot of these amazing places and get more acquainted with the stories surrounding them.  

Recently, I was given the opportunity to go behind closed doors and explore the abandoned Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Factory that was acquired by the Friends of Medalta in late 2011. This was an amazing opportunity, not just to satisfy my own curiosity, but to showcase a landmark that hasn't been widely photographed.

The Brick and Tile site dates back to 1886, and is believed to be the oldest industrial site in Alberta.  I-XL Industries owned and operated the site from 1929 until June 2010, when the plant was significantly damaged by flooding and ceased operations.  After careful consideration and a clean up of the site, it was decided that the plant would not reopen due to the substantial cost of replacing all of the machinery.  

Recognizing the significance and local history tied up in the facility, the Friends of Medalta took over the property with a sizable donation from I-XL.  There are a number of plans on the table for utilizing the Brick and Tile complex, but at the moment this landmark within the historic clay district remains closed to the public.

During my afternoon visit several weekends ago I shot hundreds of images around the abandoned site.  So many in fact, I'm dividing this set into several posts.  While (not surprisingly) the best shots came from inside, I wanted to open with the images I shot of the exterior of the Brick and Tile plant.   As you'll see, these include the old kilns at the back of the facility, the rusting corrugated siding of an older section of the plant, and even a couple shots I was able to snap from the roof.

I want to give a shout out to Quentin Randall from Medalta Potteries who initially contacted me after my very first Around the Hat post of that location.  I wouldn't have had this opportunity were it not for him, so thanks very much!  There's lots more to come of this incredible location - view the interior shots here.     

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