Sunday, March 11, 2012

Backyard Bucket List: Bellevue Coal Mine


The countdown to Vegas is on, and with that, a trip out to see Hoover Dam that I am very much looking forward to. I have also eyed up the zipline on Fremont Street, or better yet, the zipline over the Mojave Desert, courtesy of Bootleg Canyon Flightlines (oh, the possibilities!). I hope my cousin Marriann isn’t into that little thing called ‘sleep’ because my list of things to see and do is rapidly mounting! I can’t wait to go and experience the city again - but as if for the first time. I am also excited for the interesting blog posts that will be sure to follow.

However, in the meantime, I will add another entry to the “Backyard Bucket List” because I feel the overwhelming need to write and add to “Down the Wrabbit Hole”, and I have nothing new to check off the original Travel Bucket List quite yet. Today I’m going to revisit my trip to the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta, focusing on my experience in the Bellevue Coal Mine, which was very interesting indeed!

The entrance to the Bellevue Coal Mine in Crowsnest Pass.

Bellevue is located in southern Alberta in the mountainous area known as the Crowsnest Pass. The mine is not a large tourist complex, but something small, quaint, and out of the way. The official address, in case you want to visit, is 21814 - 28th Avenue, Bellevue, AB. You can call ahead for more detailed directions (403-564-4700 / 403-564-4711), but there are signs along the highway that easily direct you to the mine, which is how my husband and I stumbled upon it quite accidentally during a summer road trip to the nearby Frank Slide.

Joey all bundled up and about to enter the mine.

There weren`t many people at the mine when we visited in early September. I guess the height of the summer tourist season was over, and Joey and I basically had the run of the place. We were lucky enough to go on a tour with just the two of us and our guide, so it was very personal and detailed, and we were able to do some extra exploring that normally, the guide told us, wasn`t possible with a group of 30. So going to the mine at the end of the tourist season is highly recommended!

After we paid our $10.00 per person admission fee, we had to 'dress appropriately' for a coal mine excursion: the guide lent us some blankets to stay warm, a helmet with light attachment and battery pack utility belt, and some gloves to cast off the chill that we'd encounter deep within the mine. We sure looked stunning!

Looking super gorgeous in our hard hats.

The tour was about an hour long, and we traveled over 300 feet into the dark, dank, cold, and claustrophobic coal mine shaft. Safety was never a concern for me, as the mine shaft had been widened, leveled, and reinforced as per tourism safety standards. When we reached the far end of the mine shaft, however, our guide pointed out what the original shaft looked like: half-caved in, narrow, and supported by rickety and rotting beams. Not a place I`d like to further explore!

If you tilt your computer so that the chain hangs straight, you'll understand the angle of the mine.

Once we were down at the very end of the shaft, our guide turned off his headlamp and instructed us to do the same. It was so dark, that I held my hand not two centimeters from my eyes, and could not even make out an outline! All you could hear was the drip, drip, dripping of the water running down the mine walls. I couldn`t imagine being trapped in a mine cave-in with no light - I would go crazy!

Checking out a bank of coal deep within the coal mine.

During the tour, our very knowledgeable guide pointed out some really interesting, historical items. We saw a working coal chute, used to transport coal from other areas of the coal mine. He showed us a sulfur deposit, original coat carts, pick axes, original helmets and headlamps (not as efficient as the ones we were currently wearing) and much more. I found it very exciting and interesting at the same time.

If you are ever driving through the Crowsnest, please ensure you stop to check out this unique little side trip. I promise you that you will not regret it!

3 comments:

  1. Whoop! I'm planning to take my Jr. High kids on a trip in May, and the Bellevue Mine is on the list... now I'm even more excited! Thanks for the preview :)

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  2. You are such an amazing writer! Another great post! I look forward to VEGAS baby!!!! I am a princess, and princess likes her sleep - but in Vegas...who cares!?!?!

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  3. If you are going to Bellevue, then make sure to hit up Frank Slide too - it is right next door, and so amazing! Ask about Charlie the Horse!

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