The Drumheller Valley is located in a unique
geographic location of central Alberta described as badlands
(likely from the French, terres mauvaises). Known for its
geographic beauty, the
Drumheller Valley includes the Red Deer
River, its major river system. Shaped by wind and water erosion,
the landscape is a marked by winding gullies and outcroppings of
rock known as hoodoos.
While today Drumheller is world-renowned for
its dinosaur fossils and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of
Paleontology, in the early part of the 20th century, it came to
prominence for its coal resources. The area began as a ranching
community in 1897. The coming of the railroads meant that coal
mines had to be located strategically close to the lines. For
the Drumheller Valley, the building of the Canadian Northern
Railway spurred development in the region. In 1910, Col. Samuel
Drumheller bought the townsite just before the Valley’s economy
took off. As Howard and Tamara Palmer note in their book
Alberta: A New History:
Drumheller was transformed from a ranching
backwater to a transportation, commercial, and coal-mining
centre. By the 1920s, the Drumheller Valley had a population of
10,000, including approximately 200 miners who worked in
twenty-nine different mines producing coal for domestic use.
Drumheller itself had a population of 2500 by 1921.
Myrtle Toshach and Bill Murphy, writing in
The Hills of Home: Drumheller Valley (Drumheller: Drumheller
Valley Historical Association, 1973) note that, between 1912 and
1960, 124 mines were producing in the region. As with the other
mining areas of the province (including Edmonton region, the
Rockies, Nordegg, the Coal Branch and Lethbridge/Coalhurst)
immigrants from Europe, as well as those already in eastern
Canada and the US, were attracted by plentiful work. Today, the
Drumheller Valley is known for its collection of dinosaur bones.
Bones discovered throughout the Drumheller Valley are displayed in museums worldwide, including
the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology located
in the Valley.
Victor Avramenko and Eric Houghton
Victor Avramenko and Eric Houghton talk about life underground, including learning the
sounds of danger versus the sounds of comfort, and the challenges miners faced, in this video
produced by CFCN Television.