Monday, April 20, 2009

Coalmine -- September 14, 2008

After the muscle strain that was Centennial Ridge, there was no way I was going on anything more than a gentle stroll this weekend. However, I did find myself drawn back to the same area.

I've mentioned before that I'm a bit of a coal mining history geek. I've had my eye on a trail in the Kananaskis area that leads to a reclaimed mining site, and it just happened to be a turn-off from the same trail as Centennial Ridge. Passing by it the week before just whetted my appetite, so David and I returned to the scene of last week's crime.

Plus I wanted David to see just how bad Centennial was.

How bad? Again, here's the hiking sign, this time with a "normal" hiking sign. The hiking guy that looks like he's stepping up an enormous hill is not exaggerating:

The history I have about this area is brief: Coal was discovered in the early 1900s, but lack of access roads made mining the area less than viable. By the late 40s, an access road had been built and strip mining began in earnest. After a year the operation went underground due a particularly thick seam in the mountain. The mine was in operation for 5 years before freight costs got too high and the demand for coal briquettes lessened.

This trail isn't particularly well marked, but I could tell we were getting close:

When the trail starting to go from dirt under our feet to this, we knew we had to be in the area:

Even the hills around us showed the sign of the "other" black gold:

However, once at the end of this brief hike, there's really nothing left to see, which is great on the reclamation side.... not so interesting on the history side:

I did notice some coal cars sitting near the trailhead for Ribbon Creek (on the other side of the parking lot), so there's still more to discover about this area....

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