Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site | Crowsnest Pass, Alberta
The high-flying technology companies of the 1990s did not invent wishful-thinking as a business model. The ruins of Leitch Collieries at the eastern extremity of Crowsnest Pass attest to similar irrational exuberance among entrepreneurs and investors of the steam age.
The beautifully crafted stone structures were erected on fragile foundations of hope and debt. When they were started in 1907, it seemed a sure thing that Canada's industrial boom would create an insatiable demand for high-quality steam and metallurgical coal.
Despite a strike by miners in 1909 that suspended continuing income from coal sales, the owners decided to continue construction anyway, using borrowed money. An array of 101 coke ovens, a powerhouse, and a town for the miners were completed even as the eight-month strike cost the company the loyalty of its customers, including the essential Canadian Pacific Railway.
Personal hostility between the mine president Malcolm Leitch, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the mine's bankers darkened the company's prospects for recovery. The final blow was the outbreak of World War I in 1914, which cut off the mine from its European customers. The bank foreclosed on the mine in 1915 and operations never resumed.
Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark
Leitch Collieries historical site is located on the north side of Provincial Highway 3, not far west of the single windmill at Lundbreck.
(GPS N49 33.472 W114 19.417).
Leitch Collieries opened in 1907. The company town of Passburg west of the mine dispersed to other communities in the Crowsnest Pass when the mine closed just eight years later. The site includes intact remnants of a row of coke ovens.
For more details, please visit their website here: http://www.history.alberta.ca/leitch/
Historical Time Period for Site
Early 20th century
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Open May 15 to Labour Day