Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park – Hiking Alberta

 

The Ghost Town of Anthracite is easily accessible off Tunnel Mountain Road near the Town of Banff.

 

 

Anthracite is a ghost town located 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) NE of the Town of Banff on both sides of the TransCanada Highway west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The mission today is to locate a memorial plaque, placed, after 1972, at the burial site of a child who drowned in the Cascade River in 1883.

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Hoodoos at the ghost town of Anthracite in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada An abandoned tire from an old turn-of-the-century coal mining truck.

 

On the south side of the TransCanada Highway, this old coal mining town was operated by the British-owned Canadian Anthracite Coal Company from 1886 to 1904 with a predominantly immigrant population near 300.  At its peak the town boasted a hotel, general store, hardware store, pool hall, barber shop and restaurant.  The vulnerable town was largely decimated by the 1894 Cascade River flood which destroyed bridges and several buildings.  The worst was yet to come. 

On June 16, 1897 the Cascade River flooded again.  In spite of the construction of dams, the water rose above them and entered the mines, killing the entire horse and mule population trapped underground as well as destroying many homes near the river.  By 1904 the majority of the population had moved a few kilometers north to the Bankhead Mine which began operations the same year.  Anthracite became a ghost town. 

The unsuccessful search for the memorial plaque consumes the morning of a fabulous day.  Lunch is enjoyable in the sun at Anthracite under the massive presence of towering Cascade Mountain.  The mine remains are on the North side of the highway and bits of equipment and infrastructure remain visible near the coal slag heaps.

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Sitting on the remains of the dam built to unsuccessfully prevent the Cascade River from flooding Anthracite

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Cascade Mountain from Anthracite in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Banff Hoodoos above the Bow River on Tunnel Mountain - Mount Rundle in the background

 

Since the Anthracite access is just off Tunnel Mountain Road, a decision is mutually agreed upon to dedicate the afternoon for exploration of the Banff Hoodoos on this incredibly beautiful day before some shopping in the very busy Town of Banff prior to the return trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, CanadaUp close and personal to the Banff Hoodoos in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A view of Banff Hoodoos from below

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A view from above the Banff Hoodoos on the climb out of the valley

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The view of Banff Hoodoos from near the Tunnel Mountain Road

 

Anthracite and Banff Hoodoos – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada At the Tunnel Mountain Road viewpoint with Banff Hoodoos and the Bow River below

 

There is no photo of the historical plaque which remains undiscovered.  

The Parks Canada Visitor Center in the Town of Banff could not provide the location but the officer provided me with a phone number of a gentleman in British Columbia who may be able to help the next time there is an opportunity to continue the search.

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you for the information, Jake. The next time I tour Anthracite, I will use your instructions. Much appreciated. In the subsequent post, I shall place a photo of the plaque. Your instructions will help others who get in there to explore the meadows in the shadow of Cascade Mountain. Portions of the dam constructed to protect the town are still prominent at the site.

Hi Barry. I don't what it is but when I'm checking out hikes I always seem to migrate back here. You had mentioned that you were unable to locate the plaque for the drowned child. Perhaps that's changed since you posted this report. In the event you did not and are still wondering as to its whereabouts the UTM co-ordinates are: 11u 605015 5672352 just plug it into google earth and away you go. Essentially it's in a meadow type open area on the left side of the access road when nearing the Cascade river with the old Parks Canada compound buildings on the right of this road. I hope this helps. regards....Jake

Approaching the Town of Banff from the east, take the Lake Minnewanka exit, then turn left towards the Town of Banff. You do not need to go far. Turn left again at the Banff Mountain Rocky Resort onto Tunnel Mountan Road. You will drive up a hill on paved road which veers left. On the left, there is a green gate on the opposite side of the road. Visibility for traffic coming down the twisting road on the hill is poor, so caution is required to cross and park off to the side of the green gate. The old road leading to Anthracite is on the other side of the closed gate to your right. Do not be confused by the trail to the left. You hike the road to the bottom and a maze of trail and old road leads to a variety of interesting features below Cascade Mountain. You will find some debris beside the Cascade River. Take a map. Have fun discovering and thank you for your comment, Chris.

Barry, where is the best place to access the old town site? I've wanted to go for years, but have no reliable info on exactly where the place is. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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