Friday, March 19, 2010

Frank Slide -- July 4, 2009

On April 29, 1903, at 4:10 am 90 million tonnes of mountain rock crashed down on the small mining town on Frank, AB (then in the North West Territories). The slide narrowly missed the main street of town, but still destroyed miner's houses, camping areas and outbuildings for the mine itself. Over 70 people were killed.

I've been driving through this southern Alberta area since I was child -- it's in the far southwest corner of Alberta, only minutes from BC to the west and Montana to the south. The mountain slide and the fan of boulders across the valley have always fascinated me, and as a child I would devour every book I could find on the subject.

(click to view full panorama)

Trapped miners, destroyed rail lines, stories of heroism, stories of amazing chance, it's an amazing historical event.

There's too much history to get into here (and trust me, I could talk your ear off for hours), so if you're interested, check out:
Frank Slide, AB -- When a Mountain Fell On A Town
Alberta Geological Survey

The mountain still "moves", is actively monitored and all those involved say it's a matter of "when" not "if" the mountain will fall again. Hi-tech monitoring means we'll hopefully know well in advance when more of the mountain is about to fall:

Alberta Geological Survey -- Turtle Mountain Monitoring Project and Field Laboratory

On the edge of the slide is the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, our next stop on our journey...


Suzanne Perazzini said...

Hopefully there's no longer a town near the mountain. That would be rather foolhardy.

Michelle said...

Believe it or not, there still were housing developments in the predicted slide path. Even after the original slide, the mine was repaired and re-opened in about a month. It was only a few years later "old" Frank was relocated to "new" Frank, where it still is today.

The local council no longer allows development in that area though... even with the early warning system, it's just too risky...