Uncover stories or heroism and hope after Frank Slide, the deadliest natural disaster in North America.
When the top of Turtle Mountain fell on April 29, 1903, the crashing sound was heard in Cochrane, over 200 kilometres away. In just 90 seconds, 82 million tons of limestone buried homes, businesses, ranches and part of the railway at the town of Frank. 90 people were killed in the disaster, making Frank Slide the deadliest natural disaster in North America.
Frank Slide Interpretive Centre shows what life was like before, during and after the slide through state of the art exhibits and award-winning movies. Despite the devastation and loss of life, there are amazing stories of heroism and survival that speak to the resilience of the people who continued to live in the area after burying friends and relatives. Within weeks, the main railway line had reopened and a few months later, the mine at the base of Turtle Mountain resumed operations.
Read more about Frank Slide Interpretive Centre in my story on SnowSeekers: The Day Turtle Mountain Moved.
Today, you can hike or drive through the boulders of Frank Slide, but you should visit Frank Slide Interpretive Centre first. (Note that the hiking trail is open from May – October.)
Here are 5 reasons to visit Frank Slide Interpretive Centre:
- Learn about the Crowsnest Pass’s rich history. Why would First Nations people avoid camping here? How did the town of Frank come to be? What caused Frank Slide?
- Find out if Turtle Mountain will fall again – watch “In The Mountain’s Shadow” and then learn about geologic structures, and try out the monitoring equipment that was used until recently.
- Pick up Frank Slide Interpretive Trail ($1) and Drive the Slide brochures then walk or drive through the slide path. The route through massive boulders is beautiful and sobering at the same time. Had the slide path been more to the west, the death toll would have been much higher.
- Visit the Travel Alberta accredited visitor centre onsite to learn about other things to do in the area. There’s great hiking, skiing, fishing and more in the Crowsnest Pass!
- Escape the elements on a cold or rainy day, explore the centre, and let the kids play in the play area. The gift store has unique items if you’d like to pick up a souvenir. Older kids will enjoy the graphic novels written by interpretive centre staff!
The exhibits and stories of Frank Slide Interpretive Centre honor the lives lost in the slide, and celebrate the strength of the survivors. My youngest enjoyed the play area and geology exhibits best, while my oldest was fascinated by the audio recordings. We learned a lot and we will be back!
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