Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine National Historic Site of Canada
Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine
Mine de charbon Atlas Numéro Trois
Links and documents
1936/01/01 to 1974/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Situated in the badlands of central Alberta, the Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine National Historic Site of Canada is an exceptionally well-preserved coal-mining landscape spread across the side of a bluff, on the south side of the Red Deer River and over the valley immediately below. The resources on the side of the hill are clustered around the vestigial mine entrance and include foundations of a rotary dump, traces of a rail line and trestle bridge leading east towards a second rotary dump, the remains of that dump, two nearby explosives sheds, a blacksmith shop, and a covered belt line leading down the hill. In the valley, the focal point is the mine tipple and the related conveyor system leading to it from the hill. A collection of wood frame service buildings is located west of the tipple, consisting of a machine shop, storage building, washhouse, and a loading ramp. East of the tipple, there are four former managers' houses and a storage shed. The site contains rail beds and some of the rails of the 1930 spur line that connected the Atlas mine to the main line across the Red Deer River. Another striking feature is the associated railway bridge, still extant. Official recognition refers to all coal-mining related resources within the defined boundaries of the national historic site of Canada.
The Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine was designated a National Historic Site of Canada because:
- it played a significant role in the history of the coal industry in the Drumheller Valley which was the most productive plains coalfield in Alberta and southeastern British Columbia from the First World War to the 1950s;
- the surviving buildings and equipment provide an exceptionally well-preserved example of a coal mine plant. The mine entrance, most of the surface structures and the associated railway bridge are still visible. The tipple, which is a large squared-timber structure used to clean and sort the coal into various sizes, represents the best surviving example of the coal preparation facility common in the plains branch of the industry in the first half of 20th century; and
- the site illustrates the parts played by capital and labour in the development of the coal industry.
The heritage value of the national historic site resides in the surviving physical resources, which illustrate the former coal mining operation at this location. Operational from 1936 to 1974, the site is now presented to the public by the Atlas Coal Mine Historical Society.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2001; Commemorative Integrity Statement, October 2004.
The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the distinctive characteristic of the natural landscape of the badlands defined by the Red Deer River which has cut deeply though the layers of sedimentary rock to create the Drumheller valley;
- the visual relationship between the coal mine site and the natural setting including the dark band of the coal seams which can still be seen in the layers of sedimentary rock that define the side of the hill;
- the massive square-timbered tipple with its associated conveyor sheds, machinery and storage bins used to transport, sort, clean and load the coal;
- the collection of small wood-framed, gable-roofed buildings located on the valley floor near the tipple;
- the grouping of buildings and structures located at the mine entrance near the top of the hill and their functional diversity, which illustrates the self-sufficiency of the coal mine operations, with its ability to provide housing, repair and maintenance facilities, storage buildings, a wash house and a lamp house;
- the wide range of surviving machinery on the site and in the buildings used to extract, process and load the coal onto railcars or trucks for market;
- the vestiges of the coal mining landscape that include the rail lines, rail beds, electrical poles, steps, and pathways;
- the squared-timbered, Howe truss trestle bridge that provided the essential transportation link to the main rail lines across the Red Deer river.
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1936/01/01 to 1956/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
Function - Category and Type
- Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection