Welcome to Banff National Park

Legend:
Red: Anthracite
 
Blue: Bankhead
 
Orange: Minnewanka Landing (Work in Progress)
 
Purple: Silver City
Silver City, Bankhead, Anthracite, and Minnewanka Landing. These ghost towns within Banff National Park each illustrate the ever-changning attitudes towards the development of Canada's natural resources and the industrialization of the Canadian Rockies. Before Banff was established in 1885 there was encouragement from the CPR to explore the "land of opportunity" in the West, creating boosterish campaigns to lure prospectors and establish settlements along the tracks. The influence of the CPR's trek to the West was a major component for the fly by night existence of Silver City (1881 - 1887) with its rumours of silver and gold within Castle Mountain. Eventually an abundance of coal resources was found in the Cascade Coal Basin by George M. Dawson of the Geological Survey of Canada. In the basin alone there was an estimated 400 million tons of anthracite coal, and 1,200 million tons of soft coal, which the CPR valued greatly for locomotive fuel. An Ottawa lawyer named McLeod Stewart decided to take advantage of this untapped cash-cow, and in 1885 established the townsite of Anthacite (1885 - 1904) at the base of Cascade Mountain, just before the area's inclusion in the national park. After the townsite faded away from economic and environmental difficulties, Anthracite became an interesting legal issue for the construction of the TransCanada Highway as well as the continued mining activities of the Wheatley Family, who were exploiting the Cascade's coal seams long after the National Parks Act of 1930 came into fruition. Today, both Anthracite and Silver City are the least-known ghost towns in the national park. As you read further, you will see a national change in attitude from the development to conservation of Banff's national resources, and how that is reflected today with these important ghost towns. 
Bankhead (1904 - 1925) on the other hand was established by the CPR to supply themselves with steam coal. The interesting thing about Bankhead is that it began during a time when conservation was encouraged by the Federal Government, showing the influence the CPR had on internal affairs. After the Bankhead mine closed down due to coal seam being increasingly difficult to exploit, there were legal issues in regards to ownership of the houses that stood on the townsite, and if the operation should be cleaned up by the CPR. It was concluded that the ruins of the Bankhead operation should be preserved to remind Canadians of the important role resource extraction played in the formation of national parks, transforming it into a great cultural resource.