el ganeden d'esmareldas

the garden of emeralds

Chaitén, Los Lagos, Chile

Leave a comment

Chaitén was created before European conquer and was first explored by European conquistadors in the search for the City of the Caesars, a city of legend full of gold, silver, and diamonds, somewhere in the Andes. However, Chaitén was first officially listed as a town in 1940 and served as a port.


Chaitén, 1950

In 2008, for the first time in over nine thousand years, the nearby Mt Chaitén volcano erupted. The city of Chaitén was evacuated while Mt Chaitén continued to erupt for months continuously. Because of the volcano, the town was also flooded due to lahars (extremely dangerous flows of mud, debris, and rocks) causing the nearby river to overflow. Currently, the town of Chaitén is being rebuilt, though there is controversy whether it should be or not because of the state it’s in. Some of the population has returned, and it currently has a population of 3,500 residents, of its original 7,000.

42 55’0″S 72 42’0″W

Historical img srcs


Goussainville (Le Vieux Village), Val-d’Oise, France

Leave a comment

The origin of the name ‘Goussainville’ is likely from the way the French named rural land in earlier times (around the 4th century). The owners’ surname would simply be attached to the suffix -ville as to say ‘villa of (surname)’. The earliest mention of Goussainville, however, is in the 9th century in 832 in a charter of the monks of Abbey of St Denis, who then owned the land. The church, St Peter and St Paul, of which ruins of it remain today, is first mentioned in the 12th century. Some of the lords of Goussainville later participated in the Crusades in the 13th century. In 1870, the Prussians occupied part of Goussainville and destroyed some of the town’s documents and burned buildings. In 1905, a sugar factory was built in Goussainville and operated for 80 years, bringing many jobs to town and turning it to a city. Much urbanization occurred during the 60s, which brought schools, businesses, and transport to the city.


Le Vieux Village, year unknown. ‘Au Paradis’ is still standing, though abandoned, and you can still see its painted letters. However, I was unable to get an image of it through Google Earth as that part of the town had no coverage.

The part of the city in the image shown is called ‘Le Vieux Village’ or the ‘Old Village’. Residents of Le Vieux Village were not happy with the construction of the Charles de Gaulle airport nearby, because of the noise, and many of them began to leave the village as the airport was being built. Shortly later in 1973, before the airport had even opened, the Paris Air Show was being held. A new plane being tested there, the Tupolev Tu-144, crashed into Le Vieux Village during its flight, killing all six crew on board and eight residents of the neighbourhood. After this, nearly all the remaining residents left Le Vieux Village. Later in 2000, Air France Flight 4590 caught fire and crashed into a hotel from the Charles de Gaulle airport, just 6km from Le Vieux Village. All 109 people on the plane died along with four on the ground.

Today, Le Vieux Village has a few residents left (estimated 10 households max) and has now received attention and is visited for sight seeing of the ruins of the St Peter and St Paul Church and the rest of the village.

49°01′33″N 2°28′28″E

Historical img srcs

Sparta, Georgia, US

Leave a comment

Sparta was established in 1795 and was a major producer in cotton. After a plantation owner in Sparta died, he left the estate to his daughter Amanda America Dickson, whose mother was a slave, and for a long time, she was believed to be the wealthiest Black woman in the US. Sparta lost most of its population in 1918 after World War I, when the market for cotton crashed. In 1921, Jean Toomer came to Sparta to work as a principal at a Black agriculture and industrial school, and later wrote about it in his first, and often considered most important, novel, Cane. Toomer would later go on to marry Dickson and become an important author and poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Today, there are about 1,500 residents in Sparta.

33°17′N 82°58′W

Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England

Leave a comment

It’s not known when Knaptoft was established, but it’s existed as early as the 13th century, when its church was built. Its name is believed to descend from Old Scandinavian, knappr meaning the top of a hill, and toft meaning a home, though it has been recorded under plenty names, one of them being Cnapetot. Most of the residents made fabric for a living or raised livestock. It was deserted in the 17th century for unknown reasons. Its main attraction is the St Nicholas church which is believed to have been destroyed during the English Civil War by Parliamentarians and today lies in ruins. Today, only about 50 residents remain in Knaptoft.

Wauchope, Saskatchewan, Canada

Leave a comment


St Jean Francois Regis Roman Catholic Church (what a name; Carpenter Gothic)

Wauchope (pronounced like ‘walk-up’) first started being settled around 1901, but became a village in 1906. Most of the residents came from England, France, Belgium, or Sweden. The town was named for a General W Wauchope. It had a Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian church and cemetery, along with a lumberyard, school, community hall, barbershop, hotel, skating rink, and many other stores. The St Jean Francois Regis Roman Catholic Church is pictured above and has inside of it a pipe organ hand-built by one of the residents, a blacksmith named A Sylvestre. Wauchope has a very well-recorded history and it is believed to be home to about five families today.

View from Elevator (looking NorthWest)

The Catholic church can be seen as the farthest building, year unknown <1940

Wauchope viewing West (circa 1947)

Wauchope, 1947. Again the Catholic church can be seen as the furthest building in the image. Though this image is closer, some buildings have still disappeared.

49 36′00″N, 101 54′02″W

Historical img src

Peterson, Saskatchewan, Canada

Leave a comment


Holy Eucharist Church (Ukrainian Baroque revival/Carpenter Gothic)

Peterson was founded when the railroad was built in 1912 and was named after the first shopkeeper in the town. Most of the settlers were eastern European, specifically Ukrainian, and as with most early settlers of Saskatchewan, nearly all of the residents were farmers, though several blacksmiths lived in the town. Peterson had two churches, Holy Eucharist Church (Ukrainian Greek orthodox, built in 1927, pictured) and St Agnes Parish (Ukrainian Catholic, built in 1924, not pictured, still active today). It had a school which closed in 1970 and began the downturn of the town’s population; Peterson had reached its peak in the early 60s. In 2008, it had a population of 15.

52.1132N 105.4117W

Parkbeg, Saskatchewan, Canada

Leave a comment

The land that Parkbeg is on had an extensive history long before the little town was founded. Many indigenous peoples, including the Plains people, Assiniboine people, Plains Cree people, and Blackfoot people, lived on the land once, and later lived around it until they were forced on to reservation. But they left traces around the land, and artifacts and tipi rings can still be found in and near Parkbeg today. Though Parkbeg got a post office in the early 1910s, it didn’t officially become a town until 1920. Its main industry was grain and it still has one grain elevator (first photo) which is owned by Paterson Grain. It also had strong ties with the Canadian Pacific Railway. By the late 1950s, it was too small to be considered a village anymore.


‘On the line between Canada and the US, 1902’ at the Parkbeg train station

50.4500N 106.2667W

Historical img src