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ATLAS COAL MINE

near East Coulee, Alberta, T0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/02/13

Atlas Coal Mine Provincial Historic Resource, East Coulee (date unknown); Provincial Archives of Alberta, P.919
View of tipple
Atlas Coal Mine Provincial Historic Resource, East Coulee (June 1999); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management, 1999
View of tipple, south elevation
Atlas Coal Mine Provincial Historic Resource, East Coulee (July 1999); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management, 1999
View of tipple and belt incline, south elevation

Other Name(s)

ATLAS COAL MINE
Atlas/Century Coal Mine
Century Coals Mine
Atlas Coal Mine Complex
East Coulee Mine
Atlas Coal Mine: Tipple, Beltway and Blacksmith Shop

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1937/01/01 to 1950/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Atlas Coal Mine is a cultural landscape situated on 4.472 hectares of land near East Coulee, approximately 25 kilometres southeast of Drumheller. The site comprises a variety of buildings, structures, and landscape elements spread across the side of a bluff on the south side of the Red Deer River and over the valley immediately below. Significant site elements include: the vestiges of the mine entrance, the foundations of a rotary dump, traces of rail lines, traces of a trestle, remains of a rotary dump, explosives sheds, a blacksmith shop, a tipple, screening house, and covered conveyor belt shafts, a machine shop, a storage building, a wash house, a loading ramp, three former managers' houses, and a storage shed.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Atlas Coal Mine lies in its excellent representation of a major mining operation in the Drumheller Valley - one of Canada's most significant coalfields between World War One and the 1950s. The site is remarkable for its integrity and its association with the pioneering mining practices of Dr. Omer Patrick, the president of the Atlas Coal Mine.

The Atlas Coal Mine in East Coulee was an integral part of the coal industry in the Drumheller region and the site of several trailblazing techniques in coal extraction and processing. Created in 1910, the townsite of Drumheller quickly became a hub of mining activity; in 1912 alone, eight new mines were initiated and by 1921, there were 27 mining operations in the region. Active in the region since the late 1910s, the Atlas Coal Mine Company established its third mine (Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine) near East Coulee along the south bank of the Red Deer River in 1936. The original mine structures erected that year were razed by a fire in April 1937, they were immediately reconstructed and the mine recommenced operations later that year. Unlike the large, well-financed mining operations in the Rocky Mountains, the Drumheller Valley mining projects were typically smaller enterprises bankrolled by businessmen of less substantial means. Dr. Omer H. Patrick, a prominent entrepreneur and Calgary civic figure, was the driving force behind the Atlas Coal Mine Company. An energetic and ambitious modernizer, Patrick employed pioneering mining technologies in his operations. Among the significant innovations introduced at the Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine were the use of a self-propelled coal cutting machine on tracks and the Cardox method of retrieving coal. The Cardox method was particularly significant. Employed experimentally in the mines in 1937, the method was non-explosive, using compressed carbon dioxide to dislodge coal. This extraction technique produced fewer "shatter cracks" and resulted in a higher quality of coal, less prone to degradation during processing and transport and able to burn longer. The Atlas Coal Company eventually obtained exclusive rights to use the Cardox method over much of the Drumheller field. Dr. Patrick's entrepreneurial vision and commitment to cutting-edge technology established the Atlas Coal Mine as one of the most productive and efficient coal operations in the province between World War One and the 1950s. The mine closed in the mid 1950s, as new energy sources became readily available. It is currently an interpretive site.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1344)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Atlas Coal Mine include such features as:

Tipple, conveyor belt, and screening house:
- concrete foundations;
- square-timber frame construction;
- diagonal wood siding;
- gable roof;
- conveyor belt system enclosed in a linear wooden structure;
- wooden struts on top of linear structure;
- screening house at the base of the hill;
- Ottumwa boxcar loaders;
- original equipment, including conveyors, oscillating screens, chutes, bins, oil sprayer, and magnetic separators.

Blacksmith shop:
- mass, form, scale, and materials;
- interior equipment, including a forge, power saw, grinding wheel, and drive shaft.

Explosives sheds:
- mass, form, scale, and materials;
- location and construction of sheds against hill.

Electrical/storage building:
- wood-frame construction and gable roof.

Fuel storage building:
- wood-frame construction and gable roof.

Former managers' houses:
- wood-frame construction and gable roofs;
- associated sheds and garages;
- hedges and trees in front of the houses;
- layouts and interiors of the houses.

Wash-house:
- wood-frame construction, gable roof, and roof ventilators;
- interior layout;
- fittings, including sky hooks and metal tags, stove, water heater and tank;
- shower facilities, including original plumbing, showerheads, and metal sheets.

Mine entrance:
- collapsed square timbers marking its location.

Foundations near mine entrance:
- concrete foundations.

Rotary dump on the east side of the bluff:
- wooden and metal fragments of the dump and its supporting structure;
- evidence of the debris dumped over the side and still visible at the bottom of the hill.

Site:
- location of, and spatial relationships between, each structure, building, and landscape element;
- trace of rail lines;
- rail staging yard;
- loading ramp;
- secondary shaft entrance;
- boxcar loader;
- vestiges of original miners' path to the mine entrance;
- network of power poles, transformer yard, and overhead wires leading from the valley up the hill near the blacksmith shop.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1989/02/13

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Industry
Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1344)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0495

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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