Crowsnest Pass is a pass in the Rocky Mountains
of western Canada
, running over both the border between British Columbia
, and the continental divide
. Located only 40 km from the US border, the pass is the most southerly highway and railway corridor through Canada's Rocky Mountains. It serves as a major corridor in Canadian east-west transportation.
There are five towns in the Crowsnest Pass area: Lundbreck, Beaver Mines, Blairmore, Frank, and Coleman.
- Prior to the mid 1800s, only the Kutenai and Blackfoot crossed through Crowsnest Pass.
- 1845: Coal first noted on the Elk River by Father Jean de Smet.
- 1877: A trail is cut up the Elk Valley to what is now called Phillip's Pass.
- 1878: George Dawson recommends that the Canadian Pacific Railway should build through the Pass. However, politics combined with the proximity of the pass to the USA meant that the rail line went through the Kicking Horse Pass instead.
- 1880: John Kean is sent by the Canadian Federal Government to set up a saw mill at Mill Creek.
- 1881: Senator Peter McLaren of Perth, Ontario purchases the mill, and begins building the village of Mountain Mill.
- 1892: The initial survey for a Canadian Pacific Railway in the area was completed
- 1898: The rail line is completed - up to 4000 men worked on the line.
- 1903: The Frank Slide occurs.
- 1920: The first airplane landed in the pass.
- 1921: The final link on the Trans Canada Highway is put through the pass.
- 1928: The first Greyhound Bus travels through the pass.
The Crowsnest Pass was Alberta's largest coal mining community, and as such was associated with many successes and many failures, and even tragedy. (Both the Frank Slide and the Hillcrest explosion qualify). Today there are no open mines, but visitors can have a guided tour of the Bellevue mine, which operated from 1903 to 1962. There are many other attractions as well, including the Crowsnest River, and Crowsnest Lake. The entire area must be counted among one of the most beautiful in the world.