Atlas Coal Mine - Drumheller - Hiking Alberta

 

A step back in time at the Atlas Coal Mine in East Coulee near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Of the 139 coal mines which operated near Drumheller, Alberta, the Atlas Coal Mine, near East Coulee in Drumheller Valley, survived the longest between 1911 and 1979.  The Patrick Family mines produced more than 20% of the valley's coal.  At peak productivity the Atlas Coal Mine employed more than 300 people.  The Atlas Coal Mine #3 and #4 produced nearly 5 million tons of Wildfire Coal sorted by what is now the nation's last free-standing tipple

The hard work and primitive conditions were humbling by today's standards.  It is a fascinating site for learning and observation, where dedicated volunteers continue the painstaking task of keeping history alive.  It is more difficult to know where you are going without knowledge of where you have been.  The gravel parking area is adjacent to the administration building where passes are purchased and adventure begins.  Regularly, the attraction improves and the number and variety of available tours expand.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Atlas Coal Mine, National Historic Site, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Atlas Coal Mine, National Historic Site, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaSuiting up for the tour of the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site in East Coulee near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Adjacent to the parking area is an example of one of the more elaborate homes occupied by miners.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada An example of one of the miner's cabins at the Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The cooking area and source of heat in a miner's cabin.

 

The beginning of the walking tour is across the entrance road at an exhibit of old mining machinery salvaged from the mining operation.  The collection includes a variety of tools, coal cars and engines used in the mining shafts to haul coal to the chute which would deliver coal to the tipple for sorting and loading into railroad hopper cars.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada A personnel carrier for delivering miners to and from there work location deep in the mine.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The inside of the personnel car.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The equipped machinist's shop rests above the tipple and can be accessed by guided tour.

 

On the far, north side of the tipple, several small buildings offer insight into the operation of the mine.  The first building visited addresses the use of miners lamps and the batteries to power them.  Recent evidence indicates this process was different at the Atlas Coal Mine and many of the exhibits have been moved here from other defunct mines.  Interpretive plaques and ample historical documentation bring the exhibits to life.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

There is evidence this Lamp House was moved to the Atlas Coal Mine in the 1960s from the Murray Mine. The Lamp House for the Atlas Coal Mine # 4 previously existed near the entrance to the mine shaft.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada An old battery and historical documentation of lamp house process at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

In some mines, a numbered brass tag was taken into the mine by each miner and returned at the end of the day.  In an emergency it would be known who was in the mine, or in a disaster scenario, the tags could be used to identify bodies.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Museum exhibits at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Checking out the mining exhibits at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

T The little "cartop shed" served as the Lamp House and is adjacent to the larger Wash House where every miner's shift began and finished.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The view of the Atlas Coal Mine tipple from the Lamp House and the Wash House.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada View of the tipple at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historical Site near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Inside the Wash House, every miner exchanged street clothing for clean workday clothing from suspended baskets which served as lockers.  At the end of the 8 hour shift, badly soiled clothing would be hung for overnight laundry and after a hot shower, warm street clothing would be restored from the suspended basket for the walk home.  The historical documents on the bulletin board are fascinating.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The Wash House at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The shower room in the Wash House at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Newly washed clothing is hung from hooks to dry in the heat closer to the ceiling of the Wash House at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The cast iron furnaces and boilers creating hot water in the Wash House at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Raising and lowering clothing from the lockers at the ceiling in the Wash House at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Historical documents, preserved on the bulletin board, give fascinating insight into the wages and conditions of the time at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historical Site

 

The Repair Shop is worthy of investigation on the walking tour between the Wash House and the Mine Office.  There is plenty of opportunity for hands on experience with some of the tools before capturing additional excellent views of the tipple.  A yard filled with classic vehicles, possibly awaiting restoration is en route before entering the Mine Office building to collect more fascinating historical information.  This is a very interesting place.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada A view of the tipple from near the Mine Office at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The supply and repair shed at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Wielding a wrench at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada The tipple at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Old mining equipment used for parts or possibly awaiting restoration at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

The Mine Office is the final stop prior to returning to the parking area.  The office is well-organized with original supplies and documents.  A variety of interpretive plaques and relevant documents illustrate the working of the mine, the relationship with miners and the ongoing disputes with mining unions.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Approaching the Mine Office at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada A ground level weigh scale resides beside the Mine Office at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

The Mine Office is so accurately appointed, it's occupants are expected to return from lunch at any moment.  Again, there are fascinating educational documents to bring life to the days of mining at the Atlas Coal Mine near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

 

On the return to the parking area, the walking tour passes beneath the tipple where separated coal is loaded into railroad hopper cars for transportation to markets across North America.  Near completion of the walking tour, the tour in the working, steam-propelled, mine locomotive named 'Linda' is about to depart with tiny mining carloads of people.  

The final stop is at the equipment exhibit.  There is a sand box for the children but, instead of sand, it is filled with crushed coal and it is not immediately obvious why parents would encourage children to play in there.

 

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Enjoying a busy and interesting day which included plenty of fresh air and exercise, indoor and outdoor activities, and an educational bonanza in a variety of ways.  All that remains is the return drive to Calgary. 

 

Images for this post were taken on July 16, 2013.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Looks to me like we have a couple of natural miner's in the making.

What a special time with family in an amazing place - dinosaurs, hoodoos and mines.

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