Frank Slide: Canada's Deadliest Rockslide

We had learned of the Frank Slide while at the Alberta Visitors' Center in Glacier. We had no idea what to expect. It was a massive shock to see the magnitude of destruction that occurred in this little town in Crowsnest Pass, 114 years ago.

The extensive debris field of the Frank Slide is part of the cultural landscape of this once promising little Coal Mining Town- the next Pittsburgh! Over 90 million tons of limestone rock slid down Turtle Mountain within 100 seconds.
The mountain face toppled and slid almost three miles across and up the other side of the valley. The slide buried the southern end of the town of Frank and completely destroyed a two mile stretch of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The slide disaster also obliterated the mine plant of the Canadian-American Coal Company. Seventeen miners were trapped inside the mountain but fortunately managed to escape by tunneling upwards to the surface. After the dust settled, the catastrophic slide event had reportedly killed ninety people. The Frank Slide is considered the site of one of the worst natural disasters in Alberta’s history and is now a provincial landmark.

This photo does a good job showing what the mountain looked like before the April 29, 1903 catastrophe and afterward.
This photo shows the massive flow of rocks, spread out in the valley. That is not snow. That is a sea of huge limestone boulders. 
A visit to the Interpretive Center allowed us to learn what life was like in the coal mining town of Frank before, during and after the great rock avalanche. While there, we watched two very interesting and informative films,On the Edge of Destruction (which recreated the remarkable night the rockslide came down) and In the Mountain's Shadow (which presented the history of the spectacular Crowsnest Pass from immigration through coal mining to rum running). This pause was a historical introduction to our 'home' for the next three nights.

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