So, you think all those mountains that surround Crowsnest Pass are solid, immovable hunks of rock that won’t budge in a million years? That’s probably what the people who lived in Frank, Alberta thought, back in 1903. But Turtle Mountain proved them wrong.
On April 29, 1903, the east face of Turtle Mountain gave way, sending 90 million tons of rock crashing into the valley below. It’s estimated that 70 to 90 people died, but only 12 bodies were recovered. The slide buried seven houses on the outskirts of Frank, but it also did much more: it covered 2 kilometers of railroad track, destroyed the infrastructure of the town’s coal mine, and dammed up the Crowsnest River.
As you drive through the area on Highway 3, you’ll pass through an enormous field of rocks, that look oddly out-of-place. I should have stopped and taken a picture, but you can probably see it on the Drivelapse video of the area.
These days, there’s a modern visitor center/museum that overlooks Frank Slide. That’s where I took this picture. From the parking lot, you can also look further down Highway 3…
… to enjoy a nice view towards the pass.
There’s only one problem with the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre — it isn’t free. As I started to climb the stairs to the historical exhibits, I was quickly told that I’d have to pay an admission fee. From what I’ve seen, it looks like an excellent exhibit — but I’d guess that a lot of people, just like me, won’t be willing to pay the $10 admission fee, in order to receive a history lesson.
So, I enjoyed the views from outside, and browsed the tiny gift shop for a moment or two, then headed back to Highway 3.