| NAME: Bankhead
PROVINCE: Southern Alberta
CLIMATE: Mild in Summer, cold in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer
In Banff National Park.
REMAINS: Many original remains.
As Anthracite was dying early in the 20th century, a new community in Banff National Park called Bankhead rose two kilometres north further up the Cascade Valley. From 1904 to 1922, Bankhead - supplying coal for the locomotives of the Canadian Pacific Railway - survived and at one point boasted a population of 1,500, including 300 underground coal mine workers. The town, geographically split between the massive mine site and the residential area, included a hotel, school facilities, pool hall, a restaurant, stores, several saloons, about 100 residential homes, a boarding house for single men and a church - the ruins still at the site, its elegance reminding visitors of the town's once promising future. But the mine site's poor quality of coal and continuous labor strikes forced the mine to close in 1922. Many people opted to move, including their homes to Banff, seven kilometres southwest. Many of the buildings were torn down until nothing was left except scores of foundations. However, in recent years, Parks Canada officials in the national park has developed a wide range of interpretive services at the site for ghost towners and tourists. Visitors can walk along well-groomed trails at both Upper Bankhead (residential area) and Lower Bankhead (mine site) and view the ruins and other scattered remains of the town. Government officials have also built a fascinating educational and historical exhibit in the old transformer building, which includes the area's geology, the mining operation, and community life. There are still about half a dozen or so former residents of Bankhead still alive in the Bow Valley, including in the world-famous resort town of Banff. Louis Trono, the town of Banff's much-loved story teller and big band musician, is still writing a column for the local Banff newspaper at athe age of 90. His tales of the pioneer life in Bankhead and the region remind folks of the town's great influence to the future social development of the national park, and the Bow Valley's once lucrative coal mining industry. Submitted by Johnnie Bachusky, a Bow Valley writer and ghost town enthusiast.
Coal was the reason for Bankhead’s birth, and the poor quality of that product the reason for its demise. The Canadian and Pacific Raiload founded the town in 1903. It had police barracks, churches, saloons and even a Chinatown. It flourished until 1921. As the mining families moved away, Bankhead became a ghost town with its 44 homes, recreational hall and other buildings standing empty. Today, there is little left. There is a story that the last resident of Bankhead was a Danish caretaker whose job it was to see that no one stole anything from the last four remaining houses. There is a sign erected by Banff National Park and a Union Jack that flies over the site in tribute to the miners who gave their lives in France and Belgium during the First World War. H.B. Chenoweth