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Frank Slide

At 4:10 am on April 29 1903, 82 million tonnes of limestone streamed down from Turtle Mountain onto the town of Frank. The town was home to six hundred people: on that morning, one hundred sleeping citizens were in the path of the rockslide. It is estimated that seventy of those people were killed, while twenty-three people-mostly children-survived the disaster.

Why did the mountain fall on the town? There is evidence that the mountain was not stable: the Blackfoot and Kutenai had refused to camp in that area. Mining, the chief industry of Frank, only made the mountainside more untrustworthy. For several months before the slide, miners reported that timbers were cracking and shifting inside the mine and that coal was exposed as the rocks shifted inside the shaft. When the mountain came down on that April morning, seventeen miners were trapped inside and managed, after fourteen hours of hard labour, to dig a new shaft and escape.

The town was evacuated after the slide but when it appeared that the mountain was again stable, people returned and reopened the mine. The old mine was closed in 1913 and, in 1918, after a series of fires, the whole mining operation was closed. Now the site is the home of the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.

The site of the Frank Slide.

The site of the Frank Slide.