Bankhead, Alberta — Banff National Park

Since I am still not quite done school for the semester I have yet to go on any recent adventures. Therefore, I thought I would write about another hike from last summer.

A bit of history…

Bankhead, Alberta is now an old abandoned coal mining town. According to some of my research the town was around from 1902-1923 and other sources cite it as being 1904-1922, but nonetheless it was not around for long. The town was located about “two kilometres north of Cascade Valley” (Ghosttowns.com,n.d.). The purpose of the town, according to a posting on the ghosttowns.com website posting on Bankhead, was “supplying coal for the locomotives of the Canadian Pacific Railway” and at one point the population was, “1,500 including 300 underground coal mine workers (Ghosttowns.com,n.d.).

The area was split into two: the first area was where the coal mine was and where work was done and then the second area was where the residents lived. Where they lived had some amenities according to the Alberta Ghosttown’s site which,

“included a hotel, school facilities, pool hall, a restaurant, stores, several saloons, about 100 residential homes, a boarding house for single men and a church – the ruins still at the site, its elegance reminding visitors of the town’s once promising future” (Ghosttowns.com,n.d.).

The question that remains is: Why did the town fail?

The first reason is more obvious, as many people may know the area is now a National Park and National Parks exist to preserve nature, not exploit it for resources. Of course, there are more reasons than that.

The second reason is the quality of the coal that was being produced at the mine, which a series of signs throughout the hike explains. Another reason was also due to the continuous worker strikes (Ghosttowns.com,n.d.).

It appears as a result of those reasons the citizens began to move away to places such as Banff, which is 7.2 km away. Ghosttowns’ website explains this quite well,

“Many people opted to move, including their homes to Banff, seven kilometres southwest. Many of the buildings were torn down until nothing was left except scores of foundations. However, in recent years, Parks Canada officials in the national park has developed a wide range of interpretive services at the site for ghost towners and tourists” (Ghosttowns.com,n.d.).

My Experience at Bankhead:Β 

As explained earlier the town was split into two parts, which means to go on the self-guided tour you have two separate hikes to choose from. We had previously done another hike that morning (it was the Cold War Bunker hike I wrote about!) Β so we only ended up going to where the mining was done, but it was still interesting and I hope to go back this summer and take better pictures and do the other portion of the self-guided tour.

This hike was quite slow paced and relaxed. It took less than an hour, including the time spent reading the signs. The site Hiking with Barry explains this hike quite well and includes photos to upper and lower Bankhead as well as directions (check it out here!).

I would recommend reading both Barry’s posting and Ghostowns’ post in order to learn more information and to see more pictures.

Here are a few pictures I took while exploring:

 

Work Cited:Β 

Ghosttowns.com. (n.d.). Bankhead – Alberta, Canada Ghost Town. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from http://www.ghosttowns.com/canada/alberta/bankhead.html

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