Monday, June 17, 2013

May holiday sketches: Drumheller

Our last place to stay during our May excursion in mid/southern Alberta was Drumheller, a place I had first visited during my very first trip to this province about 12 years ago. Drumheller is perhaps most famous for the Royal Tyrrell Museum -- the cornerstone institution for showcasing and researching the region's rich paleontological resources. The town has successfully themed itself as "the dinosaur capital of the world".

However, to me the interest lies in its relatively recent history as a booming coal mining town along with the many communities that surrounded it. During its heyday in the mid 20th century, this portion of the Red River valley attracted thousands of young men from across Canada (and even Europe) to work the dangerous mines for some quick money -- not unlike Fort McMurray today -- until oil was discovered in Leduc just south of Edmonton, and natural gas quickly became the fuel of choice. After the first coal mine opened in 1911, there were 139 mines operating at its peak, but just as quickly as the boom began, the bust occured with equal force resulting in the last site (the Atlas Coal mine) closing in 1979. Visiting the many (ghost) towns and artifacts of the area reminds us of this boom and bust nature of the Canadian west, the strength of ambition, and the precariousness of how we live, as manifested in these settlements.
the view from our hotel... the badlands landscape across the Red Deer River

at the Royal Tyrrell Musem of Paleontology
by the Royal Tyrrell Museum
the quirky "Old Grouch's" diner in town

a long abandoned bridge used by the mining cars, and the Red Deer River
Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

No comments:

Post a Comment