The Atlas coal mine today is preserved as a
unique historical sites. Visitors have the most wonderful
experiences of climbing an eight story tipple, or join a morning
miner's hike. Coal mining history in the Drumheller Valley
comes to life
The Atlas coal mine was the first project of
the newly formed Atlas Coal Company Limited in 1917. There were four major
shareholders of the new company: James O. E. Holden (who was the main
organizer), James McCulloch, Doctor Omer H. Patrick and W. D.
Gordon. James O. E. Holden
was born in Ireland in 1877. His parents migrated to Canada and
settled in Nova Scotia where James finished his education. After
that he worked in the coal mines for a time. In 1896 he came to
Alberta which wasn't a province then but part of the Territories
where he worked at the Galt Mine in Lethbridge. The next few
years found him roaming the country where he worked in various
coal mining communities in the U.S.A. After the American
experience he returned to Alberta and worked for the next ten
years at Bankhead, west of Calgary. He arrived in Drumheller in
1913 and became superintendent at the New Castle Mine.
James McCulloch came to
the Valley in 1915 where he became the superintendent at the
Stirling Mine. Later he went to the A.B.C. Mine.
Doctor Omer H. Patrick
was born in Ilderton, Ontario in 1869. After graduating in
medicine from the University of Western Ontario in 1892 he moved
to Port Huron, Michigan, U.S.A. where he practiced for the next
two decades. The next move was to the west coast to find a drier
climate for his son, Lorraine so they moved to Portland, Oregon.
here the Doctor went into real estate as he never practiced
medicine again after leaving Port Huron. This time the Doctor
built 12 homes where he realized a profit of $1,000.00 on each.
Next the family moved to Calgary where Mrs. Patrick had a
brother that had a medical practice. It was here that James O.
E. Holden came to him and talked him into investing into the
proposed new mining venture.
All that is known of W.
D. Gordon, is that he was one of the original four investors
that formed the Atlas Coal Company Limited. After a time he sold
his share to the other partners and turned to civic matters as
he entered the mayoralty race on December 8, 1919 where he beat
his main opponent, George Clarkson, 179 to 71. The other hopeful
candidate, T. S. Branson only acquired 39 votes.
Over the next few years the Atlas Mine
prospered as the authorized capital was now $50,000.00 in 1921. That year while James E. 0. Holden was manager the yearly
capacity rose to 135,000 tons. By 1925, Holden and McCulloch
decided to sell their shares to Dr. Patrick. The deal was made
on March 25, 1925 making the transaction a very profitable one
for all concerned. James Holden and James McCulloch were
interested in a new mining venture in metal mining so were
moving to Vancouver with that in mind. Once Doctor Patrick
became the sole owner he placed his son, Lorraine in charge as
superintendent and a Mr. Hastings as manager. The mine continued
operation till August 6, 1929 when it was closed down and
This article is extracted from Ernest
Hlady, The Valley of the Dinosaurs : Its Families and Coal
Mines (East Coulee, Alberta, East Coulee Community
Association, 1988). The Heritage Community Foundation and the
Year of the Coal Miner Consortium would like to thank Ernest
Hlady and the East Coulee Community Association for permission
to reprint this material.
Atlas Coal Mine
National Historic Site