Frank Slide

Speaking of landslides...Frank Slide is the name of the event and place that had the entire side of Turtle Mountain in Crow's Nest Pass (Alberta) bury a mining town on April 29, 1903. It is believed 80-90 died in the slide and remain there to this day as does the debris field under which they're buried.

I visited Frank & Frank Slide a few years ago and nothing prepared me for the vastness of the debris field or the size of the wound on Turtle Mountain. Yes, the side of a mountain slid down, yes mountains are big. You hear it and you think you understand but you don't. It is jaw-droppingly fearsome. 

Look at the mountains in the back ground, now look at turtle mountain...
photo credit: Tim Fraser

...look at the mountains in the background, now back at Turtle Mountain...
photo credit: Tim Fraser

Turtle Mountain (photo: olddognewtrick)

Huge boulders make up the debris field (photo: olddognewtrick)

An idea of the depth of the debris field (credit: Moffet Road)

Look at the train's engine and imagine the engineer inside. How big would he be? In your mind take him out and sit him on the pile of Turtle Mountain rocks.

Turtle Mountain lost it's mass due to characteristics of the mountain itself. Turtle Mountain had a steep, top-heavy cliff face made up of limestone layered on softer layers of earth and rock.

It is thought that coal mining weakened an already unstable mountain. The investigators concluded that Mining activities contributed to the slide, [however] the facility's owners disagreed. Their engineers claimed that the mine bore no responsibility. Later studies suggested that the mountain had been at a point of "equilibrium"; even a small deformation such as that caused by the mine's existence would have helped trigger a slide. [source]

Well of course they didn't contribute! They were entitled to take what they wanted they're human! The Blackfoot and Kutenai peoples called it "The Mountain that Moves", and refused to camp in its vicinity. If this wasn't a red flag for caution...! I only wish the thumb suckers back at head office who pushed for the mine to remain open met the same death as the people in the town but rarely do the people responsible for such things pay the price.

It had been a wet winter with heavy snowfall as well as warm temps during the day and cold during the night. This cycle of thawing and freezing further weakened the mountain as water in the fissures expanded and contracted often.

What have we learned from this? Absolutely nothing. Wiki says:
Though Frank recovered from the slide and achieved a peak population of 1,000 shortly thereafter, the closure of the mine resulted in a longstanding decline in population. Frank ceased to be an independent community in 1979 when it was amalgamated into the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass along with the neighbouring communities of Blairmore, Coleman, Hillcrest and Bellevue. Frank is now home to about 200 residents, and about a dozen homes are within the predicted path of the next slide.

The Lad describes Frank Slide as "eerie but cool". Indeed. Here's a video of a flyover Turtle Mountain and remember that part of a once thriving town and 80+ people are still buried here.

Just a quick note on the side. I used information from Wikipedia and the article on Frank Slide was written by an Albertan. It is an excellent article however I do have one suggestion to clarify the location of Frank Slide in the article. Wiki says and I quote: "The Frank Slide was a rockslide that buried part of the mining town of Frank, Northwest Territories, Canada..."

Literally, that would be like me saying Jacksonville Zoological Gardens (Florida) is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I looked at the edit interface in Wiki to see what was up and found this note regarding Frank, Northwest Territories:
<!--Please do not change this to read "Alberta". The Province of Alberta did not exist until 1905. Thanks. -->
Using that excruciatingly correct and unnecessary rule of thumb, the Island where I grew up - Prince Edward Island - would have to be called Île Saint-Jean - no explanation - if I was describing something that occurred before 1798 because that's what it's name was then. The average Canadian wouldn't know where the hell I was talking about it.

It really doesn't matter that Alberta came into existence in 1905, it would have been less confusing and less ostensibly ignorant to say "what is now Alberta" or  even simply "Crowsnest Pass" because regardless of provincial configurations at the time, the mountains have been there since almost forever and it's ALWAYS been Crowsnest Pass because the Indians named it. 


Anonymous said...

Dear Frimmin Jimbits,

The Culture Trip would like to feautre one of your photographs in our upcoming article on the most beautiful places in rural North Dakota! This piece will be visible to approximately 1 million readers per month, and we will share it with more than 250,000 followers across our social media channels. We may also republish the article in partner publications, giving it even wider exposure.

For the publication (and possible republication) of this article, we would like to request permission for the use of one of your images of Turtle Mountain. If you have images that you would prefer we use, we require landscape images that are over 668px wide.

To find out more about The Culture Trip, please visit our website, and social media channels (Twitter and Facebook); or sign up to our newsletter.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you so much!

-Summer Powers, Editorial Intern

The Culture Trip

Frimmy said...

These photos are not mine. Photo credits are listed in each photo caption and linked to the photographer's web site where possible. It's not one of my better posts but if you want to feature it with that knowledge, awesome.

Anonymous said...

I see, my mistake! It also appears that these are photos of Turtle Mountain in Albert. My apologies, thank you so much!

-Summer Powers, Editorial Intern

The Culture Trip


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