Wayne, Graveyards and Badlands – Drumheller - Hiking Alberta

Wayne, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada


Wayne is in the East Coulee near Drumheller northeast of Calgary, Alberta.  The 6 KM (3¾ mile) one-way drive into Wayne passes over 10 sturdy, single-lane bridges with the 11th bridge further along.

Lately the majority of recreation time has been spent with the living.  Today is dedicated to visiting potentially interesting graveyards within easy reach of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Often it is challenging find a partner who shares an interest in spending spiritual time with the physically departed.
Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Welcome signage at the entrance to the Community of Wayne
Drumheller, Alberta is an hour’s drive northeast of Calgary.  The initial destination will be the abandoned graveyard in the depression-era coal mining community surrounding the community of Wayne, about 10 KM ( 6¼ miles) southeast of DrumhellerThe population of Wayne peaked near 2,500 in the mid 1930s just prior to the collapse of the coal market.  Current population of the community today is about 50 people.  Wayne was a hamlet prior to becoming a community of Drumheller in 1998.
Wayne is the home of the famous Last Chance Saloon, established in 1913.  At one time children were not allowed in the saloon on Sundays.  This is a fascinating area rich in history.
Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Limited parking is available at the cemetery roadside memorial near the site of the old Rose Deer Mine.  The graveyard (visitors not encouraged) is situated high up on the bluff northeast of the memorial.  Many of the interned were relocated to a separate section of the cemetery in Drumheller.  The climb, in desert-like terrain on a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, reveals crocus among other spring flowers in full bloom.
Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Hiking off-trail in running shoes and gaping around at spectacular scenery on the aggressive elevation is an amateur mistake.  In an altercation with a Prickly Pear cactus, 2 inch cactus spines penetrate the side of my left shoe.  This makes the remainder of the climb less comfortable.
The old Wayne graveyard is in an advanced state of decay.  The next hour is spent on a lofty ledge at the edge of a grain field above Wayne photographing most of the few remaining markers.  It is a reverent, calming and humbling spiritual experience.  
Many graveyards have been wandered over many years including Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and the graveyards of countless ghost towns in the American Southwest.  They tell fascinating stories of courage, tenacity and sometimes ultimate demise.  Often they identify times of famine, disease or plague when large portions of the population die in a short time. 
Sometimes, by surname, family genetics are revealed where deaths shortly after birth travel through several generations.  The adversity and sacrifice can only be imagined.  They worked very hard in primitive conditions to help establish the country we enjoy today.  The experience is humbling.  The tombstones of the children are the most touching and it is incumbent to spend extra time with them. 
Following descent, removal of the cactus spines from the arch of the left foot is the first order of priority.  One cactus spine has penetrated about an inch and requires pliers for removal.   Following a leisurely lunch at the local campground, the next adventure is to hike the entire 2 KM (1¼ mile) length of the abandoned Relief Hill Road, built in the 1930's as a depression make-work project.  The road is still in fairly good shape with the occasional wash-out.  Views into the coal mining valley below are awesome. 
On the return hike there is an opportunity to drop off-trail from the road into the valley to investigate the sparse remains of the old Sovereign Mine (1940-1947).  Stepping carefully around Prickly Pears, hiking back along the creek at the bottom passes a beaver dam.  The breathtaking natural artistry of badlands terrain is always fascinating.  At mid-day the temperature reaches 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) in the sheltered valley.
Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
At day's end there is an opportunity to enjoy a well-earned, cold beer at the Last Chance Saloon, then head to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology along the North Dinosaur Trail, on the other side of Drumheller, to do a bit of shopping for gifts.
On the way home there is time to pay my respects with peace and reference on a stroll through the Zion United Cemetery, east of Beiseker (Russian and German immigrants) and St. Mary's Cemetery in the quaint, historical town of Beiseker.



Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wayne Graveyards Badlands - Drumheller, Alberta, Canada


A day in the badlands surrounding Drumheller and along the Red Deer River offers far more attractions than can be absorbed in a single day.  Crossing the eleven bridges to access the historical treasures in the tiny Community of Wayne is always an interesting day.








Unfortunately, I cannot assist you personally. The markers at the cemetery have suffered in number and condition over time. I believe there are 11 bridges between Rosebud and Wayne. I could not guess which was the specific bridge but it is likely near Wayne when coal was being mined in the area. I suggest you contact the library in Drumheller for a reference to any person who could be a specific historian for Wayne. From my 2006 photography files, I have a photo of the bronze memorial plaque at roadside beneath the location of the historic Wayne Cemetery. There is a 'Robert Gilmour' listed under the year 1924. Sorry I cannot be of more assistance.

Being born and raised in this hamlet, there are 9 bridges between Rosedale and Wayne, before you reach the Cemetery memorial and the Last Chance Saloon

Thank you for the clarification, Dylan. The total number of bridges is eleven.  The eleventh bridge is at the far side of the community prior to where the road begins the climb from the spectacular valley.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share your visit to Wayne, Alberta. I have just found, after searching for 10 yrs, that my grandfather Robert Gilmour died there in November 1924. He left Scotland in search of a better life for him and his family. He apparently fell 30ft off of the railroad bridge, at Wayne, onto the ice. I presume it was into a frozen river. You mentioned in your story that there were a few markers left in the Wayne Cemetery. Was there by any chance one for Robert Gilmour? I hope one day to make the trip from Australia, and visit Wayne, and see where he died. Would you happen to know what Railroad bridge he would have fallen from. Thank you again for allowing me to have a glimpse of Wayne.

There is a memorial marker with your grandfather's name on it. You can see it here. http://www.geneofun.on.ca/names/photo/2307169 Information about the cemetery is here. http://www.geneofun.on.ca/cems/AB/ABBAD0622 This page indicates the people were re-interred in nearby Drumheller but I have no direct evidence of that. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2395778

Thank you for your comment, Cam. We share an interest in pursuing history through those who passed before us. The Canmore and Banff Cemeteries are very interesting. I have toured a lot of fascinating cemeteries in the American Southwest. Montana is a gold mine of opportunity. I would suggest pursuing texts or internet references to ghost towns. There are thousands of abandoned hamlets and villages which participated in the growth of the country but could not survive over the longer term due to growth of transportation routes or urban development. Quite often, if the community survived long enough, a cemetery may remain. I believe it would be fair to say that many have been lost or are no longer feasibly accessible. If you are aware of a derelict cemetery in your area, please leave a comment.

i love doing photography of cemeteries and old headstones. If anyone knows of old retired cemeteries in Southern Alberta that are off the beaten path, can you please let me know. Please leave a comment here.

Hello Barry. l have a fairly new but very popular Facebook page 'Alberta Places of the Past'. Our latest topic is Wayne, Alberta, and l love this distant 'whole-town' shot. Since your permission is needed to use images, if a link to here or a mention of you is needed, please let me know, or if you prefer l don't use it at all. Thank you, Randy.

Randy, you are welcome to use the photograph for your page.  Source information is always appreciated.  Best wishes on your initiative.  The historical component is important.  Easier to figure out where to go when knowing from where you came.

Wayne is situated in the SOUTH end of Drumheller valley, the east portion is East Coulee. The Last Chance Saloon did allow children in the bar on Sundays, hence why I was able to work there on Sundays. It wasn't until about 4 years ago that they got permission from AGLC, to allow kids everyday. Also, the sign at the entrance to the hamlet is wrong on it's population. The population was over 3700 at its hay day. Other than these few common misconceptions, a very well, and much enjoyed read...thank you

Thanks very much for the added value information, Dylan.  Much appreciated.

Hello Barry, I'm planning on re-exploring the drumheller/dorothy/wayne area and I'm hoping you can help me navigate where the Wayne cemetery is, if it is on the west or east side of the valley?

Erik, The remnants of the cemetery are high above the clearly visible memorial exhibit at roadside in Wayne.  Access is discouraged and difficult due to the fragile condition of the graveyard.  It has been quite a while since I was there so it is uncertain what you may find.  Access may be prohibited.  Maximum respect may be required.

This past August, I paid a visit to Wayne to find the cemetery. The owner of the Last Chance Saloon was helpful with directions of the abandoned cemetery. There are about 10 existing headstones that I was able to photograph and post the images on Find A Grave. Surnames listed on the site include; Brown, Henderson, Martini, Polych, Simpson, Tupper and Williamson. I understand that a large percentage of the interned were later re-interned in the Drumheller Cemetery, Wayne Section.

Thank you for that information, Graham.  It will be interesting to others searching their heritage as well.  Next time I am in Drumheller, I will seek out the Wayne section of the Drumheller Cemetery.

I grew up in the area south of Wayne and my Dad supplied most of the meat for the butcher shop. Very hard times in the late 20's and 30's. My grandparents came from South Dakota in 1910 to homestead in the Sunnynook area of Alberta. I try on a regular basis to get the Special Areas office in Hanna to do something. They are allotted money every year for maintenance on each cemetery but they never do anything. Cemetery is in a sad, sad state of disrepair. Maybe some pictures should be posted of that one. Several more in that area are abandoned and in disrepair. Our ancestors gave so much when they came to these areas.

I was born on October 10th, 1938, in the Wayne Miner's Hospital. It took me 20 years to finally break the ties with Wayne and leave to find a better life than coal mining. Everybody in the town was poor. We were so poor we didn't even know we were poor. We made our own fun and games and became some of the best athletes in Alberta, due to our constant chasing each other through the hills. Even though I have lived away from the Valley for more than sixty years there is still the pull in my heart every time I see a picture of Wayne.

Understandable.  Incredibly beautiful and historical place.  Thanks for your comment and insight, Larry.