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Exploring Bankhead Ghost Town: A Glimpse into Alberta’s Industrial Era

Located near Banff, Alberta, the Bankhead Ghost Town serves as a captivating reminder of Alberta’s industrial era.​ This abandoned coal mining town, nestled in the Canadian Rockies, offers visitors a unique glimpse into the early 20th-century life of the region.​ Today, Bankhead is a popular destination for history enthusiasts and curious explorers.​

History of Bankhead

Bankhead was established in 1903 as a company town to provide coal to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) locomotives and the Banff Springs Hotel boilers. It quickly grew in size and by 1905, the town had homes, shops, community buildings, and even a school.​ At its peak, Bankhead had a population of nearly 1,000 citizens and employed 300 men who excavated 200,000 tons of coal per year.​

However, the town’s prosperity was short-lived. The closure of the Bankhead coal mine in 1922, due to profitability issues, marked the beginning of the end for the town.​ By 1926, many of Bankhead’s buildings were moved to other nearby towns such as Banff, Canmore, and Calgary.​ Bankhead became a ghost town, left to the forces of nature and time.​

Exploring Bankhead Ghost Town

Visitors to Bankhead Ghost Town can embark on an easy 1km interpretive hike through the remnants of this once-thriving community.​ The trail takes you past deserted mine buildings, a coal shuttle train, and various architectural displays and ruins.​ Descriptive plaques along the trail provide insights into the rise and fall of Bankhead, allowing visitors to envision what life was like in this bygone era.​

As you stroll through the town, you’ll encounter foundations of buildings that are still visible, providing a tangible connection to the past.​ The interpretive trail also features signage that identifies major buildings and provides interesting facts about the town’s history.​

It’s important to note that Bankhead Ghost Town is located between Canmore and Banff, near Lake Minnewanka. Access to the ghost town is via Lower Bankhead Road, with the coordinates 51.​2325, -115.​5235 for the parking lot entrance.​ Make sure to follow the signs as if you’re heading to Lake Minnewanka and take the right-hand turn onto Lower Bankhead Road.​

The Significance of Bankhead Ghost Town

Bankhead Ghost Town holds significant historical value for Alberta and the Banff region. It provides a window into the coal mining industry that played a crucial role in the area’s development.​ The town’s abandonment in the face of changing economic circumstances reflects the shifting fortunes of the region’s resource-based communities.​

Exploring Bankhead allows visitors to appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by the residents of this mining town, and the impact of the coal industry on the local economy and community.​ It serves as a testament to the changing dynamics of the region and the resilience of its people.​

A Must-Visit Destination

A visit to Bankhead Ghost Town is a must for history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a unique experience in the Canadian Rockies.​ This abandoned town offers a fascinating glimpse into Alberta’s past while allowing visitors to enjoy the pristine beauty of Banff National Park.​

So, the next time you find yourself in the area, be sure to take a detour to Bankhead Ghost Town and immerse yourself in the rich history and haunting beauty of this forgotten gem.