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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for Canada

When most people think of ghost towns, CANADA is NOT one of the areas that come to mind.  Yet, our northern neighbor has many thousands of ghost towns, some of which were featured in my new book. (SEE note to left.)


The province of Alberta has many old coal mining camps as well as former agricultural centers that all invite a visit. 


Alberta has a rich historical past, and many ghost towns worth doing the research to try and find.


Listed below are only a few of the hundreds of sites that exist in this province. 





Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.





Located about a mile or two southeast of East Coulee, this old coal mining camp has a cluster of a dozen or so old buildings all in the shadow of the massive eight-story wooden tipple.  The Atlas Mine has been preserved as a park, and contains a museum that shares the history of the old camp.  This was one of the last coal mines in the Drumheller Valley to close, having done so only in 1979.

This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for February 2003.

This is one of the towns featured in my 2010 book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Coming soon – PHOTOS!!!


The nearly forgotten remains of CAMBRIA lie along Provincial Highway (PH) 10, midway between Drumheller and East Coulee.  It was home to the Cambrian Coal Company Mine, which operated from 1935 through 1942.  According to a sign at the site, “As work progressed the (coal) seam ran poorly as there was too much bone in the coal.”  Those bones came from dinosaurs, and that legacy is celebrated in the museum at nearby Drumheller.  Only scattered homes, sidewalks that lead to nowhere, and a half-dozen rock-faced dugouts with swinging doors remain to call attention to this old coal town.

This is one of the towns featured in my 2010 book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


This classic little agricultural community had 4 people in 1999 and is spread along the north side of PH 570, 15 kilometers southeast of East Coulee, and about 35 kilometers southeast of Drumheller. One source says Dorothy “is considered one of Alberta’s classic pioneer communities, serving as a popular social centre in the first half of the 20th century in the heart of the province’s famed Badlands Country.”  It dates to just after 1900, but the Dorothy moniker didn’t arise until the post office opened in 1908. The tiny agricultural community grew slowly, reaching a peak population of about 100 in the late 1920s.  The school was in use from 1937 until 1960.  About 20 unoccupied buildings remain.

This is one of the towns featured in my 2010 book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Founded in 1928, East Coulee was a stereotypical coal mining boom town that only has about 180 people remaining where 3800 folks lived in the 1940s.  A lot of buildings remain, making it appear larger than it really is.  Even with the number of buildings remaining, the town has an aura of sad neglect, the ghosts trying to gain a foothold.  For about 25 years the good times rolled, but by the mid 1950s the massive need for coal diminished, and mines closed.  East Coulee, pretty much followed suit.

This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for February 2003.

This is one of the towns featured in my 2010 book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Located on Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway), this once bustling coal mining town was nearly wiped off the map by a massive landslide April 29, 1903. 76 people disappeared when ninety million tons of rock and dirt ripped down the slope of Turtle Mountain, wiping out the eastern part of the town.  Frank rebuilt, but the memory of the slide and its aftermath will never be forgotten.


This Canadian-owned coal mining camp was located at Passburg, near Frank, in the early 1900s.  Today displays at the Leitch Collieries tells a little of the story of Crowsnest Pass Coal.  The collieries were established in 1907, and closed in 1915.  Only ruins remain.


AKA - French Camp

Coal was discovered here in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1901 before commercial mining began.  A small French-owned mining camp was established north of Frank, and called French Camp.  In 1902 the Frank and Grassy Mountain Railroad wound between Frank and French Camp, bringing prosperity.  The town changed names to Lille, after the French home of the mining company. Homes and boarding houses were built, as were a liquor store, hotel and school.  In 1904 roasting ovens were built, then in 1907 a hospital and more homes were added to the growing community.  By 1910, 400 folks lived here supported by a butcher, baker, general store, a post office and a barracks for the North West Mounted Police.  In 1913, the mines closed.  Fire hydrants and foundations remain.


Located in the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park, just north of the US/Canadian border and west of the park entrance, this old oil town is only memories and some foundations hidden in the undergrowth.  The oil was known by the First Nation folks, commercial development of the wells began in 1901 by entrepreneurs.  A small boomtown developed here in 1904.  Some of the amenities included:  a 1000 foot deep oil well, 2100 gallon storage tanks and a lot of optimism of becoming a major player in the oil industry.  A ten-room hotel was built, and a post office was planned.  Unfortunately broken drilling equipment plugged the well, shutting off the flow of oil.  It was never cleared and the project was abandoned in the 1930s


AKA – Police Flats

Located in the Crowsnest Pass area, three miles east of Bellevue, near Lille, a North West Mounted Police Barracks was established in 1881, protecting settlers and miners for the next 17 years.  In the early 1900s coal camps grew up all over the Crowsnest Pass area, and one was established at the site of the old barracks.  With no railroad station or a post office, this camp remained unnamed until Passburg was attached to it.  In 1910 it had a church, one-room school, hotel, homes, bunkhouses, a butcher shop, a bakery, a pool hall, a general store and the post office.  During WW I the town died.  In 1980 the rubbled site was declared an official Historic Site. 


The road into Wayne plays hopscotch with the Rosebud River, crossing 11 bridges in six kilometers (3.6 miles). This faded coal mining town only had about 70 folks in 1999, as well as a handful of old buildings, including the still used and well-preserved Rosedeer Hotel and Last Chance Saloon.  Wayne began in 1912, when the Rosedeer Coal Mine opened.  The mine closed in 1934, leaving its name on the town’s hotel as a legacy.

This is one of the towns featured in my 2010 book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.




Historians estimate that there are many thousands of ghost towns scattered across Canada and over 50,000 across the United States. For the American states, Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!


For more information on the ghost towns of ALBERTA, contact us at

Ghost Town USA.


E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line. 




These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in ALBERTA above are for INFORMATIONAL purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites. 


If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any provincially or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, provincial or local laws restricting the same. I do NOT know the laws and regulations of Canada, so it is incumbent upon the reader to determine the legality of any such activity.


When you are exploring the ghost towns of ALBERTA, please abide by the

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.



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FIRST POSTED:  August 03, 2009

LAST UPDATED: August 07, 2010




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