The Crowsnest Pass isn’t just a high-point on the highway, and a dividing line between Alberta and British Columbia. It’s an entire district of small mining towns and historic attractions — not to mention, it’s all surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks.
If you’re headed west on Highway 3, the Crowsnest Highway, the first town you’ll encounter in the historic district is Bellevue.
At the edge of town, there’s a small area that’s designed to welcome visitors.
A tiny roadside chapel gives you a place to stop for a moment, and pray for safe travels…
… although its interior could use a little work. Nearby…
… there’s also a wigwam-shaped building, which serves as a visitor information center in the warmer months. I guess there just aren’t enough visitors, this time of year.
From the teepee and the chapel, 27th Avenue is the main road to follow. Head north on it, parallel to Highway 3…
… and you’ll end up in Bellevue’s small downtown, which offers a couple of businesses and places to stay. At the end of the downtown strip, the road curves to the right, and you’re on 21st Avenue, which will take you back to Highway 3. Don’t worry about the road names, though — it’s obvious which way to go, to make a loop through town. (The proper turnoffs for the Crowsnest Pass Historic Tour are well marked on Route 3, as well.)
[tmt_info =””]Bellevue’s coal mine operated from 1903 to 1961, and was the scene of a deadly explosion in 1910. 31 people died in that disaster — most from carbon monoxide poisoning, after the blast. Nowadays, the Bellevue Underground Mine is open to tours, from May to early September. Check the mine’s website for ticket prices and times.[/tmt_info]
… I stopped at the Mohawk Tipple building — a shell of a structure left over from the Hillcrest Mine, which closed in 1952 (the tipple burned a year later, leaving only the brick/concrete walls).
The old tipple is on the south side of Highway 3 (opposite of town). It’s fenced off, but the wires have obviously been pushed down, making it easy to climb across and go exploring. Since I didn’t want to have an encounter with the Mounties, or fall through a rotten floor and freeze to death, I simply admired the old structure from the side of the road.