The Alberta Coal Branch: Ghost Towns of Alberta’s Mining Industry
The Alberta Coal Branch, a chain of abandoned mining towns along the eastern slopes of the central Canadian Rocky Mountains, was once an important part of Alberta’s coal industry.
Home to thousands of people with diverse backgrounds and heritages, the Coal Branch was famous for its guarantee of work and overall prosperity. However, technological advancement that once necessitated the mines outpaced production and outdated the collieries.
The demand for coal, a resource that heated homes and businesses, fueled rail transportation, and kept the Albertan economy running steadily, decreased with the introduction of diesel, electricity, and other forms of energy.
In the span of about fifty years, the Coal Branch went from a buzzing industrial region to a series of ghost towns along a deserted railway track.
Learn more about the Alberta Coal Branch at www.gallowaystationmuseum.com/reports-presentations.
Learn more about the Alberta Coal Branch at the Galloway Station Museum, Travel Centre & Archives in Edson. The museum offers a glimpse into the lives of miners of the Alberta Coal Branch, complete with stories of the colorful characters of the area and the dynamics of the tight-knit Coal Branch communities.
Dubbed the ‘Gateway to the Coal Branch’, Robb was the central community for a number of small mines in the area and is one of the only towns on the Coal Branch that is still inhabited today. Robb is home to the Bryan Hotel (now called the Coal Branch Hotel), which is the only business started in the early days of the Coal Branch that is still running to this day.
Cadomin was the largest town of the Alberta Coal Branch, boasting nearly 2500 residents at its peak. However, today there are less than 50 residents living in the community. You can still visit some of Cadomin’s original buildings as well as remnants of the original mine, including the mine entrance and remaining concrete foundations of the trestle bridge.
Mercoal was the last major operator of the Alberta Coal Branch. Today, only remnants of the once-bustling town are visible, including concrete remnants of the mine and several original homes and buildings.
Mountain Park, Alberta
From 1910 to 1950, the community of Mountain Park in the Alberta Coal Branch was the highest year-round inhabited community in the Commonwealth at a height of 6200 feet. Although nothing is left of the town today, the — the highest cemetery in North America– overlooks where the bustling town once was and is possibly one of the most picturesque cemeteries you will come across!
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