Skip to content

Bankhead Ghost Town: The Coal Mine with the Vibrant Past

HOT SUMMER GUIDE: Hidden Gem - One of the more famous ghost towns in Alberta is Bankhead, where if you listen very closely, you might still hear a child’s laugh or the strike of a hammer on what drove the town to life – coal.
Bankhead Ghost Town / Credit

Not all ghosts are the ethereal kind you see in movies. Some are metaphorical, like a bustling town where people lived, families loved, and memories were made. When all that is left are a handful of buildings and a few belongings, you have a classic ghost town.

Bankhead Ghost Town is shadowed by the towering Cascade Mountain in Banff. The story of the town began in the early 20th century when the Canadian Pacific Railway discovered a rich seam of coal in the region. The town quickly flourished, housing miners and their families who flocked here for work. At its peak, over 1,000 people called Bankhead their home, and the town was alive with activity, boasting a school, a hotel, and even a theatre.

But as the years passed, coal mining became less profitable, and by 1922, the mines were shut down. The residents moved away, and the once-thriving town of Bankhead was abandoned, eventually earning its status as a ghost town. By the time 1926 rolled around, not just the people were leaving in droves, many of the buildings were moved to Banff, Canmore and even Calgary.

Today, Bankhead Ghost Town serves as a fascinating historical site that tells a tale of resilience, change, and the passage of time. The town's ruins, including the remnants of the old mine, the superintendent's house, and the church, are haunting reminders of a bygone era.

For those with an adventurous spirit, Bankhead offers a unique hiking experience. Embark on the Bankhead Ghost Town Interpretive Hike, a 1.1-kilometer loop trail that takes you through the town's key historical sites. This is an easy hike that is suitable for children, so bring the kids along and have fun learning about a key town in Alberta’s history.

But the allure of Bankhead extends beyond its history. Situated amidst the breathtaking beauty of Banff National Park, the town offers awe-inspiring views of the Cascade Mountain and surrounding wilderness. The quiet, serene atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Visiting Bankhead Ghost Town is more than just a trip; it's an immersive historical and cultural experience. It's a chance to step back in time, to explore a piece of Canada's rich heritage, and to lose yourself in the stunning beauty of Alberta's landscape. So why wait? Pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and set off on an adventure to Bankhead Ghost Town. A world of discovery awaits you.

Remember, not all ghosts haunt you! Some are the remnants of a town that helped shape a province. So, go visit Bankhead today and let the town whisper its history to you.

Nerissa McNaughton is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks