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Exploring Alberta’s Abandoned Ghost Towns

Alberta, a vast province in Western Canada, is known for its stunning landscapes, thriving cities, and rich history.​ However, hidden amongst its vast wilderness, there are several abandoned towns that tell a story of a bygone era.​ Exploring these ghost towns offers a unique glimpse into the past and an opportunity to connect with Alberta’s fascinating history.​

1. Nordegg

Nordegg, located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, was once a bustling mining town in the early 1900s. It quickly grew as settlers arrived to work in the coal mines.​ The town had all the amenities of a modern community, including a hospital, school, and a theater.​ However, with the decline in the coal industry, Nordegg eventually became a ghost town.​ Today, visitors can wander through the abandoned buildings, walk along the remnants of the railway tracks, and explore the nearby Brazeau Collieries Mine, which provides a glimpse into the town’s industrial past.​

2. Wayne

Tucked away in the Badlands of Alberta is the ghost town of Wayne, once known as the ‘Toughest Town in the West.​’ Wayne was a thriving coal mining town during the early 1900s٫ with a population of around 2٫500 people.​ The town’s most notable feature is the historic Last Chance Saloon٫ which has remained in operation since 1913.​ Walking through Wayne٫ visitors can see the remnants of the old coal mine entrances٫ abandoned buildings٫ and the iconic Rosedeer Hotel.​ For a truly unique experience٫ visitors can take a ride on the famous ‘Rosedeer Express٫’ a vintage passenger car pulled by a diesel locomotive٫ through the stunning Drumheller Valley.​

3. Bankhead

Located near Banff National Park, Bankhead was once a prosperous coal mining town that supplied fuel to the Canadian Pacific Railway.​ At its peak, Bankhead had a population of around 1,000 people and was home to a vibrant community.​ However, as demand for coal declined, the town started to decline as well.​ Today, visitors can explore the remains of the old mine entrances, the foundations of the former community, and the interpretive signs that provide a glimpse into the town’s past. The Bankhead Interpretive Trail is a popular destination for hikers and history enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

4.​ Rowley

Located in the heart of the Canadian prairies, Rowley was once a thriving railway town.​ Established in the early 1900s, the town had a population of over 500 people at its peak.​ Unfortunately, with the decline of the railway industry, Rowley began to decline as well.​ Today, visitors can explore the town’s remaining buildings, including the historic Rowley Community Hall, which has been converted into a museum showcasing the town’s history.​ The annual Rowley Ghost Tour attracts visitors from all over, offering a spooky and fascinating exploration of the town’s haunted history.

Exploring the abandoned towns of Alberta is not only an adventure into the past but also an opportunity to appreciate the resilience and challenges faced by the early settlers.​ These ghost towns serve as a reminder of the boom and bust cycles that shaped Alberta’s history and the stories of the people who once called these places home.​