Kitsault: a time capsule ghost town waiting to come back to life
September 5, 2013 10:58 AM   Subscribe

 
Thanks to the efforts of "Indhu Mathew, Kitsault’s only resident" and caretaker!

Man, I have a hard enough time trying to clean and repair my own home; I shudder at the time and effort needed to manage an entire town.
posted by CancerMan at 11:01 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


They just want you to think everything closed because the mine shut down. But the glass is intact in those windows. You just know there's an upside-down cross and a copy of De Vermis Mysteriis in one of those houses.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 AM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


These are just a few of the images we've recorded. And you can see, it wasn't what we thought. There's been no war here and no terraforming event. The environment is stable.

It's the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


These are just a few of the images we've recorded. And you can see, it wasn't what we thought. There's been no war here and no terraforming event. The environment is stable.

You are starting to damage my calm!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:06 AM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've been up in the region for work (and my mom grew up in Prince Rupert, down the coast) and all I can say is that it's remote, far out, holy shit.

It's hard to believe the Cassiar stretches on for another 1000 kilometers north to the Yukon border.

The northwest corner of BC along Hwy 16 is probably the most undeveloped and disadvantaged part of the province with few jobs and no economic diversification. Great place to visit, though, with spectacular scenery. Ranks right up there as a "trip of a lifetime."
posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 AM on September 5, 2013


Punchline: The town wasn't really "abandoned" so much as it was "mothballed", pending an upturn in the price of molybdenum.

It's different in that sense from, say, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone towns, which were abandoned without any expectation that humans would come back to them anytime in the near future. Phelps Dodge made a significant investment in Kitsault's infrastructure and, at least until they unloaded it for $5M on Krishnan Suthanthiran, presumably had plans to reactive it when market conditions were right.

I mean, they apparently kept mowing the grass. I've lived in condo complexes with worse maintenance than Kitsault.

Also, I Googled Suthanthiran's name, and found this; it's apparently his own political party (the "Proud American Party"), with some sort of nonspecific, pro-business, "centrist" ideology. Not sure what the plan is there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2013


I mean, they apparently kept mowing the grass. I've lived in condo complexes with worse maintenance than Kitsault.

The photos date to well after the purchase by Krishnan Suthanthiran.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:33 AM on September 5, 2013


Yeah. The whole maintenance angle of this is curious, because the buildings seem to have been impeccably maintained. Everything's clean, there's no water damage anywhere, no evidence of wildlife, and even the roads are in good shape.

You generally don't see this kind of preservation outside of deserts.
posted by schmod at 11:36 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I Googled Suthanthiran's name, and found this; it's apparently his own political party (the "Proud American Party"), with some sort of nonspecific, pro-business, "centrist" ideology. Not sure what the plan is there.

The whole natural gas thing going on in the northwest corner of BC is a lot of hocus pocus, mixed liberally with hot air. Got the Liberals re-elected, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The photos date to well after the purchase by Krishnan Suthanthiran.

True, but if they hadn't been mowing the grass continuously throughout, then you'd expect to see a lot more trees and brush in place of lawns, not grass. Maybe plants grow more slowly up there, but in 30 years of not mowing I'd expect the place to be basically a light-green patch in the middle of dark-green forest. (And that would mean the end of all the underground utilities, plumbing, etc.) Pripyat, in the CEZ, was abandoned in 1986 — 3 years after Kitsault — and it looks much as you'd expect: overgrown.

So I think Phelps-Dodge was definitely putting some money into upkeep, although perhaps not as much as Suthanthiran has been recently.

KokuRyu: The weird thing is that it appears to be a US political party. A bit odd since his activities in the US seem limited to owning an abandoned hospital (!) in Brownsville, PA, and some (admittedly very significant) contributions to the Univ. of MD medical school.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:50 AM on September 5, 2013


Maybe plants grow more slowly up there,

That's temperate rainforest. It's raining more often than not.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just incredibly spooky, not only because it's exactly from my era. I expect to see all my high school classmates to suddenly show up in those pristine locker rooms and that very 70s/80s mall.
posted by xingcat at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man oh man. Imagine hiking up there and stumbling across this accidentally. No one would believe you.
posted by sidereal at 12:06 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Man oh man. Imagine hiking up there and stumbling across this accidentally. No one would believe you.

Sure they would. As the town's newest resident, your stories would be a welcome change.

What, leave? Oh, I'm afraid not.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [34 favorites]


Krishnan began its resurrection with the hopes of transforming it into a resort for intellectuals, a sort of Shangri-La for scientists, engineers and artists. With seventy corporations to his name, Krishnan has said Kitsault is not about making money but about giving back.

Isn't this how the Dharma Initiative started? Kitsault looks like it's been purged by The Others already.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like I've been sucked back into my childhood, and it's not a good feeling. The decor reminds me of Bonnie Doon Mall back when it still had the orange carpeting with cigarette burns everywhere. Where's the Orange Julius? Where's the Sears? Why can't I find the goddamn arcade?

Mom? Mom? Where'd you go mom? Come back!

(runs pell-mell into the creepy gathering darkness)
posted by aramaic at 12:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


There's a CBC made-for-teevee movie begging to be filmed here. Early 80s oppressed teen in BC interior looks for escape from his one horse town, and a future in the mine/gasworks/etc., comes to terms with himself/family/others.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:32 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


(With bullying scenes in the pool/locker room/mall, of course.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


My only question is how much they're paying this Indhu Mathew person. And whether or not she's planning on retiring any time soon.

#dreamjob

You know, until those Green Bank people find out about this place.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:40 PM on September 5, 2013


Yeah, I totally want to write some period piece and film it there now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2013


I probably should have mentioned that I'm being chased (in a sort of loping walk, followed by a camera that falls ever-further behind) by Chris Makepeace.

I guess I thought that'd be assumed.
posted by aramaic at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


After google-mapping Kitsault, I ponder that assuming someone did fly to northern BC, rent a car and drive out there, what would they find when they arrived? As a company town is it private property or can you just drive in and look around? I don't think there's any danger of me doing so, but I like to entertain unlikely ideas.
posted by Joh at 1:11 PM on September 5, 2013


Oops, just re-read and noticed the locked gate reference in the first paragraph. I guess I could sail a boat there!
posted by Joh at 1:14 PM on September 5, 2013


It is always surprising to see a mid-70s-style building that has actually been maintained. Orange shag carpets actually look great when paired with sweeping clean lines, brick facades, and futuristic fixtures! But none of that stuff wears well, so now it's a laughingstock.
posted by miyabo at 1:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's something called Alice Arm that looks like a town (well, at least as much as Kitsault does) right across the inlet, complete with what Google maps claims is an airport.

It's probably just a docking facility for seaplanes, which would be the standard way to get around up there. If you want to get there, Joh, best course would be to land on the water in a Beaver and just cruise right up to the dock.
posted by Naberius at 1:19 PM on September 5, 2013


That is one abruptly-ending article.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's when the reporter mysteriously disappeared mid-sentence.

Don't...don't ask any more questions.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:23 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


...businessman Krishnan Suthanthiran...bought it for $5 million in cash...Krishnan has said Kitsault is not about making money but about giving back.

In January of this year, Mr. Suthanthiran formed Kitsault Energy and began pitching the empty town as an ideal location to build a liquid natural gas plant and pipeline terminal to ship British Columbia’s vast natural gas resources to markets in Asia.


Awesome.

Welcome to the new gilded age, same as the old gilded age.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:26 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess it takes about 30 years for molybdenum to decay into malibdinum.
posted by moonmilk at 1:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [12 favorites]




So cool - and unusual - to see so much 70s decor looking brand new. Makes me long for my fondly-remembered childhood brown and orange T-bar shoes.
posted by penguin pie at 4:22 PM on September 5, 2013


Here's a CBC piece on Kitsault and the new owner's plans for it.
posted by islander at 4:32 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome to the new gilded age, same as the old gilded age.

Except this time the government makes the taxpayers transfer tons of cash to the "entrepreneur" because there isn't actually any money to be made except what you can steal. The same government, of course, that sold off the railroad to cover 1 year's budget deficit (no, really).
posted by junco at 5:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless they kept the heat on, I imagine the interiors are rather musty and dank.

But hey, the lawn's mowed!
posted by BlueHorse at 5:36 PM on September 5, 2013


True, but if they hadn't been mowing the grass continuously throughout, then you'd expect to see a lot more trees and brush in place of lawns, not grass.

Yeah, there are lots down the street from me, in the Atlanta suburbs, that were completely cleared for commercial use in the last decade (6-8 years ago?). They are Pine forests again now that you would have trouble walking through.
posted by bongo_x at 5:51 PM on September 5, 2013


.....sorry, is it just me, or is keeping the electricity running to an abandoned town kind of a waste of electricity.
posted by Canageek at 9:44 PM on September 5, 2013


I'm sure the caretaker goes around and makes sure all the lights are turned off in places where they haven't burned out.
posted by merelyglib at 10:21 PM on September 5, 2013


is keeping the electricity running to an abandoned town kind of a waste of electricity

Compared to the labor, materials, and energy usage involved in rebuilding a town that's had the power turned off for decades, probably not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:19 AM on September 6, 2013


Maybe this Guelph family I just read about this morning can move there to be more authentic to their vow of not using any tech made after 1986!
posted by kuppajava at 9:07 AM on September 6, 2013


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