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Hillcrest Mine Disaster Cemetery and Memorial - OU0903

 Memorial to Canada's worst mine disaster

Hidden by  Bon Echo

N 49° 34.518' W 114° 22.795' (WGS84)

 Coordinates in Other Systems
 Location: Canada
 Cache Type: Virtual
 Size: No container
 Status: Ready for Search
 Date Hidden: 30 August 2015
 Date Created: 30 August 2015
 Last Modified: 31 August 2015
 Waypoint: OU0903


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GeoKrety History

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Cache Attributes

Quick Cache Kid Friendly Wheelchair Access Available in Winter Limited Hours Listed on OCNA Only 

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Comments by the OC Team

Data: 08/31/2015 12:54:30, add by DudleyGrunt

Description   EN   

The worst coal mining disaster in Canada occurred in Hillcrest, Alberta, on Friday June 19, 1914. A total of 189 men died. 130 women were widowed and 400 children left fatherless. All of this, however, was largely overshadowed as the Great War was declared a little over a month later.

The posted coordinates will bring you to the Hillcrest Mine Disaster Cemetery and Memorial. Take some time to read the various memorials at this location. It is here that 150 of the men killed at the Hillcrest Mine were buried, in a mass grave  nearly 200 feet long. At the posted coordinates, you will find a number of stones on which are inscribed the places, dates, and number of workers killed in mining accidents in Canada. Take some time to read these and reflect on the loss of life.

A number of mine disasters had already struck the area between Fernie BC and the Crowsnest Pass, claiming the lives of more than 160 miners including 124 men killed at Coal Creek (Fernie) in 1902. Besides mine disasters, the area had also witnessed three major fires in the town of Fernie including the fire of 1908 which destroyed 1000 buildings including every retail house in town and left around 6000 residents homeless. Five years earlier, the mining town of Frank had been devastated when a gigantic wedge of limestone 2100 feet high, 3000 feet wide and 500 feet thick crashed down from Turtle Mountain. Ninety million tons of rock swept over the valley, destroying part of the town in approximately 100 seconds. 70 lives were lost, many buried beneath the landslide.

Among the other mining communities in the Crowsnest Pass, Hillcrest was considered to be the safest, best run operation of them all. There were 377 men on the Hillcrest Mine payroll and the average wage was a respectable $125.00 a month.

"On that Friday morning in June, the mine had been idle the previous two days due to overproduction of coal. Before 7:00 AM, the fireboss, William Adkin, had completed his mine inspection and posted a notice in the lamphouse warning of some low levels of methane gas along with some cave-ins in various parts of the mine. Methane gas was always present in the mine, but for it to explode it had to be above 5% and less than 14%. Coal dust itself was highly explosive, but it could be kept in check if there was enough moisture to dampen it. Moisture levels that day were considered adequate." [1]

"The sun was starting to rise that June morning as 228 men made their way to the mine to begin their underground shifts. At that time sixty-three year old William Dodd made one of the most fortuitous decisions of his life. He decided that since the mine had been idle the previous two days, there was no way that he was going to go back to work on a Friday. Dan Cullingham was scheduled for that day's afternoon shift, but, instead filled in for his friend, J.D. "Knicky Knack" Redmonson, who was sick. Tom Corkill, who had recently bought a homestead near Lethbridge, entered the mine expecting that shift to be his last shift as a miner. It proved to be tragically true. Steve Belopotosky had switched his morning shift with a friend who wanted to be off in time to meet his wife arriving on the afternoon train. The friend never did meet his wife. There were 5 Dugdale brothers working at the mine, 3 of whom -- John, Robert and Andrew -- were going on shift that morning. As Rod Wallis and William Neath arrived for their shifts, they were looking forward to heading back to Nova Scotia on the coming Monday to start farming once again. Charles Elick, 49, was a survivor of another Crowsnest Pass Disaster -- the Frank Slide of April 29, 1903. On that day he had been working underground in the Frank Mine when the slide struck, burying the mine entrance. Charles Elick spent thirteen arduous hours before he and seventeen others dug their way to safety. On this day, Charles Elick's luck ran out. In all, the men entering the Hillcrest Mine on June 19th, 1914 ranged in age from 17 to 54 with the majority in their late 20's to early 30's." [1]

Around 9:30am, "somewhere in the miles of of narrow, dark tunnels, a lamp flared, or a spark flew, or an electric cable shorted. THe ever present gas that hugged the tunnel roofs caught fire, skipped with lightning speed to a pocket of coal dust. In a fraction of a second there was a massive explosion that triggered a second and possibly a third, earth-shuddering blast" [2]

Text sources:

[1], accessed 30 August 2015

[2] Tragedies of the Crowsnest Pass. Hillcrest Mine Disaster. Frank Anderson. Heritage House Publishing, 1983. Surrey, BC.

Logging Requirements

To log this cache, you need to visit the memorial and find the Log Password:
At the posted coordinates you will see a number of stones on which are inscribed the places, dates, and number of workers killed in mining accidents in Canada. Take some time to read these and reflect on the loss of life. The stones form a circle around the central monument.
Find the stone which lists the following mine disasters:
The code word will be the YEAR (####) of the last disaster listed on that stone.






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