Welcome to the Crowsnest Pass!

Red: Frank
Blue: Lille
Orange: Sentinel
Black: Crowsnest
Purple: Burmis
Grey: Passburg
White: Lime City
Yellow: Mohawk Tipple
The Crowsnest Pass has some of the most preserved ghost towns in all of Alberta. Like the Coal Branch, most of the towns within the Pass relied on coal mining as its primary industry. Because of the oil and gas revolution, all of the mines eventually closed. Some of the mine sites lasted until the 80’s and 90’s, but townsites like Burmis, Crowsnest, Frank, Passburg, and Lille closed down in the early and mid-20th century. The differentiating factor the Crowsnest had compared to other geographic areas was the variety of forces that closed down each townsite.
Lille, also known as French Camp, died out around 1913 when the collieries closed due to a number of factors. Begining around 1908, shortly after the Western Canadian Collieries acquired the company town and collieries, the coal being produced was of inferior quality. This made it extremely difficult to market the coal to conventional markets, especially railway. By 1912 the impurities in the coal were becoming more prominent, and the markets for high-quality coking coal were decreasing. The company also owned the Grassy-Mountain Railway, which was their own spur line to get the coal on the CPR Crowsnest main line. The operating cost of running their own line and the lack of cash flowing in forced the Western Canadian Collieries to shut down the operation for good.
The townsite of Frank was the most unique case out of all the ghost towns I covered. The financiers, townspeople, and Henry Frank himself had every reason to believe that there was a cash cow on Turtle Mountain. The seams were easy to mine, the coal was plentiful, and commerce flourished in this small town. They had every reason to believe that Frank was going to be a metropolis and a centre of commerce in the Pass. However, the tragedy of the Frank Slide took place on April 29th, 1904 at 4:10 am and took the lives of nearly 100 innocent people trying to make a life for themselves. This not only devestated lives, but it also devestated their livelihood. After the slide the mine was forced to shut down, despite efforts to reopen it. In all of Alberta, Frank is the only town that was turned into a ghost town due to a natural disaster, and to this day it is known as the deadliest landslide in Canadian history.
Burmis had one of the most diversified economies in the Pass. It was first a coal mining town until 1915 when it closed down from the events of WWI, which prevented capital from the Balkans from flowing in. In a sense, the inflow of capital being cut off by the war was a sort of "resource depletion". In the 30's the town showed reselience not seen anywhere else, and began a lumber operation. This operation died out by a tangible resource depletion, after all of the good lumber was harvested. Burmis is one of the few true examples of a ghost town created by resource depletion rather than economic or environmental catastrophe.
With these few examples in this preface, it is also interesting to note the modern states of these towns and the ways these municipalities were resilient to events that would otherwise be the death sentence. Today the provincial government protects all of these sites, and a wealth of information can be accessed through the Frank Slide Interpretive Center. The preservation of these historic sites is a contrast to places like the Coal Branch. There seems to be a dissonance between what ghost towns the government feels is a historic resource, and what should be destroyed for economic gain.