January 12, 2024
In the pre-dawn hours of April 29, 1903, the peaceful town of Frank in Canada’s Crowsnest Pass was forever changed by a catastrophic event: the Frank Slide. This natural disaster, caused by a perfect storm of geological instability, coal mining, and unique weather conditions, remains etched in history as one of Canada’s deadliest rockslides. Here are five not-so-fun facts about this tragic event :
90 Lives Lost in 90 Seconds
During the slide, more than 90 individuals tragically lost their lives. Approximately 110 million metric tonnes of limestone crashed down the summit of Turtle Mountain, covering an area of three square kilometres in just 90 seconds.
The Slide was Heard More Than 200 Kilometres Away
This natural catastrophe unfolded with breathtaking speed as the rocks moved like a dense, fast-flowing liquid. Witnesses reported hearing the thunderous roar more than 200 kilometres away in the town of Cochrane, Alberta.
The Entire Town was Relocated
Following the disaster, the town of Frank faced an uncertain future. Due to the ongoing risk of another rockslide, many buildings from the original town were either dismantled or relocated. The community of “New Frank” emerged just northwest of the original site, and today, the Frank Industrial Park occupies the original 1901 townsite.
The Mysterious “Frankie Slide Baby” is a Myth
Despite popular legends, there was no sole survivor named “Frankie Slide.” While three young girls did miraculously survive the disaster, the myth of a single baby girl survivor named Frankie has persisted over the years. It serves as a reminder of the power of storytelling and the enduring impact of the disaster on the collective memory of the community and beyond.
Scientists Believe There will be Another Slide One Day
Scientists believe that another significant avalanche will occur on Turtle Mountain in the future. It is reassuring that the mountain is moving at a turtle-like pace, but any sudden changes or nearby earthquakes could alter the timeline dramatically. Modern monitoring equipment, such as real-time data streams and sophisticated technologies, are in place to provide early warnings should the mountain’s behaviour change significantly.
The Frank Slide serves as a stark reminder of nature’s unpredictability and the enduring impact of geological instability. It is a testament to human resilience and the importance of ongoing research and preparedness in the face of such natural disasters.
Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and immerse yourself in the rich history, geology, and human stories of the Frank Slide. You’ll discover untold narratives from survivors, gain insights into the geological forces behind the disaster, and support ongoing education and awareness efforts. The centre offers activities for children and screens a re-enacted movie of the tragic slide that took place in 1903.
Whether you’re a local or a traveller passing through, your visit not only preserves a crucial piece of Canadian history but also contributes to a safer and more informed future. Plan your trip to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre today.