The Canadian Anthracite Coal Company opened their Anthracite
Mine in 1886 with hopes of supplying the Canadian Pacific
Railway in the Banff area. Initially, the small operation was
profitable, employing 200 workers by 1887. However, it wasnt
long before the English-owned company ran into unexpected
financing problems. Difficulties began as miners dug deeper into
the vein, quickly discovering the seams were too steep and
narrow. In addition, the coal market was experiencing a
downturn, and costs were beginning to outstrip revenues. After a
year of losses, Canadian Anthracite knew it was in trouble and
closed their operations in1890.
The mine would have closed for good if it were not for W. H.
McNeill. McNeill saw an opportunity in the Banff area and
worked a deal to save the troubled mine and company in 1891.
After only a one year layoff, workers were only too happy to
return to work.
The mine continued to operate for several years, but the old
problems of high operating costs still remained. Also, two major
floods in 1894 and again in 1897 further setback the Anthracite
Mine. The second flood caused the most extensive damage, as the
waters crested so high that the flood entered the mine. The
initial two metre wave was so unexpected that the entire mule
and horse population could not be saved. The floods convinced
McNeill to consider moving operations, and by 1904 he closed the