Girl’s Weekend, Part 2 – Frank’s Slide

Earlier this month, I headed down to Calgary to join my gal pals (family and friends fo the family … who are kind of like family at this point) for a weekend getaway at Moyie Lake, BC. The rules were: no kids, no pets, no men, eat lots. Actually, I don’t know if that last one was a rule, but I did it anyway.

Yesterday, I posted about the trip to and from. Today, we’ll be looking at Frank’s Slide. Despite my cousins efforts to describ it, I was completely unprepared for it.

At 4:10 AM, April 29th, 1903, a rockslide buried part of the Alberta mining town Frank. The Frank Slide, as it’s called, involved 82 million tonnes of limestone sliding down Turtle Mountain (for comparison: a standard dump truck holds about 10 tonnes of gravel or dirt). It took less then 2 minutes (the mass of rock was travelling at approimately 112 kph/70 mph).

Most of the town survived, but the slide buried buildings on the eastern outskirts. Several cottages and businesses, the cemetery, a 2k/1.2 mi stretch of road and railroad tracks, and all of the coal mine’s buildings were all buried. The sound was heard as far as 200 km/120 mi away.

About 100 people lived in the area that was destroyed. Somewhere between 70 and 90 people died, though the death toll is unknown because it’s possible that as many as 50 transients, who were looking for work, may have been camping at the base of the mountain. Only 12 bodies were recovered initially and 6 skeletons were recovered 20 years later, when crews were building a new road through the slide area. The area has been designated a Provincial Historic Site of Alberta.

(Note: The above information is from Wikipedia; as of this posting, the Wikipedia entry on Frank’s Slide incorrectly states that Frank is in the Northwest Territories. Frank is in southwestern Alberta)

When you see the site now, it’s a huge stretch of grey. It’s easy to think that the rock would just fall and rest at the base of the mountain, but that much rock gathers a lot of momentum, so it didn’t stop at the base of the mountain … it stretched out and up a bit of an incline. My pictures do not do it any justice. The magnitude of the disaster left me in awe.

Here’s a view of the slide showing the extend of the the damage. It’s about 2km/1.2mi wide.  (found on Wikipedia; see note above).

Frank Slide from NW flank of Turtle Mountain

Frank Slide from NW flank of Turtle Mountain (Source: Wikipedia). Note the baseball diamonds to the right for scale.

Of course, if you’re able to out aside the fact that it was a disaster, you notice that it’s incredible beautiful. The power of the earth and of all those tonnes of rock is breathtaking. It’s just really disconcerting to think that people are buried under all of that.

Frank's Slide

Frank's Slide

The boulder on the left is big. Taller than me!

Frank's Slide

2 thoughts on “Girl’s Weekend, Part 2 – Frank’s Slide

  1. It’s pretty awe-inspiring, isn’t it? I was there for the first time this summer.. just impossible to imagine it happen, even having seen all the debris.


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