A different part of the mountains

This is a long overdue post and has nothing to do with any of the reading lists. There are good reasons why it has been so long since the last post. First off a full time job takes really cuts into reading and reflecting time – but I have managed to read 3 books. Second I just had a paper published about photographic promotion of the Banff Winter Carnival in the 1920s – not a very good excuse as it is a chapter from my masters and final revisions happened in July. Lastly I went on a three day research trip to the Crowsnest Pass and Fernie. So to prove I have not fallen in a hole with not internet access (don’t think that is possible in North America any more) here a little something about trip – including a few pictures.

Nothing beats getting out and researching – especially when researching constitutes going to an unvisited part of the Rockies, wandering around, and taking lots of pictures. So I took advantage of a few days off and drove down to the Crowsnest Pass to do a little preliminary research. I drove down via the Highwood highway through Kananaskis Country to Highway 22 at Longview and took the foothills route to Highway 3 (which takes you through the Crowsnest to Fernie, BC). It was a beautiful drive passing through the rugged front ranges in K-Country to the ranch lands of the foothills and back into mountains at the wide valley of the Crowsnest. From there I continued into BC and made Fernie my base for the 3 days I had.

There are 3 things that struck me about this part of the Rockies. First the wind never seems to stop in the Crowsnest and it is a strong wind. Second the mountains are not as rugged as those further north and because the valley is quite wide they don’t have the presence of the mountains in the Bow Valley. Lastly, it was refreshing to see coal mining celebrated because in Canmore (where mining started earlier and ended later) you are hard pressed to find mining commemorated – the misuse of mining nostalgia to sell started mansions to weekenders does not count.
I am still working through the hundreds of pictures I took and reading the local histories to get a better feel for the place. So here are some pictures to tied you over.

Leitch Collieries

Downtown Bellevue. Kind of dead on a Tuesday afternoon.
The Hillcrest Mine Disaster Memorial – different kind of depressing.
The Tipple I was not supposed to go visit…
Inside the tipple.

Frank from above.
Where old Frank was.
Modern mining technology in Sparwood. Also the World’s Biggest Truck! That would be me in the middle wheel.

Sparwood also has a collection of coal mining themed murals. This one is on the side of the Overwaitea.
Crowsnest Museum in the old high school in Coleman.
A sampling of inside.
Crowsnest Pass is full of signs pointing visitors in the direction of its mining heritage. This one takes you a nice little hike.
Following the “Miner’s Path” to the McGillvray Mines.
Decided not to follow the coal path because I had already got lost once looking for the mine.
Crowsnest Mountain and horses facing away from the unceasing wind.
The Three Sisters in Fernie (I might be biased by Canmore’s are better…)
The Fernie Museum has skiing and coal. Pretty much sums up Fernie right there.
Main Street Fernie.
That is enough pictures for now. Back to reading so the next post can be about something related to one of the reading lists and not about wandering in the Rockies.

About Lauren Wheeler

A reformed history phd student working as a public historian and looking for connections between museums and environmental history from the often freezing reaches of Canada (aka Edmonton).
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