Take a step into the past at the Atlas Coal Mine, in the heart of the Canadian Badlands. This National Historic Site offers a range of guided tours that give insight into the dirty, and sometimes deadly, work of coal miners.
Hear about the hard lives they lived in the rudimentary mining camp. When the last boxcar of coal left the Atlas in 1979, it was the last of over 139 mines to operate in Valley. In total, 60 million tons of Drumheller coal was used to heat the homes, cook the food, run the steam trains and turn on the lights for millions of Canadians.
General Admission allows visitors to explore the surface of Canada’s most complete historic coal mine. Visitors can step inside the wash house, lamp house, supply house, watch a short vides, meet costumed interpreters, and take a ride around the site aboard the “mantrip” mine train. Guided tours include walks into Canada’s last wooden tipple, hikes into the underground, or a foray into Drumheller’s dark and wild past on the Unmentionables Tour.
The wooden tipple, built in 1936 to load and sort coal, stands 75 feet (23 meters) tall against the Badlands landscape. Take a guided tour of the inside of the tipple and hear stories about the miners who once worked here.
For a tour of the surrounding Badlands and the surface plant, jump aboard the mantrip mine train, run by an antique battery-powered locomotive once used to haul coal to the surface. The mantrip takes about 20 minutes.
Put on a miner’s lamp for the Tunnel Tour and descend into the depths to experience the underground world where miners spent countless hours. This tour is not suitable for those with mobility difficulties or children under the age of 6.
If you want to hear the stories not told on most tours – stories of Drumheller’s wild and untamed past, take the Unmentionables Tour. You’ll hear tales about the bootlegging, gambling, strikes and gruesome accidents. As this is mature subject matter, minimum age of 14 and up are recommended.
Atlas Coal Mine is a 15-minute drive from Drumheller and 1.5 hours from Calgary. On-site parking is free to visitors of the mine.
There is no public transportation to the mine, but you can catch a taxi or hop aboard the Dinosaur Valley Express from Drumheller to visit. The site has different opening hours according to the season, so check the Atlas Coal Mine website before your visit.