The coal mines that dotted the area are mostly gone, but the Atlas Coal Mine continues to preserve the artifacts that have made the Drumheller Valley into what it is today.
However, not everything left at the Atlas Coal mine is corporeal. The coal mine has been a hub for paranormal activity for years.
The most famous of these spiritual encounters occurred in 1948.
A welder braved the dark confines of the Atlas Mine alone on a Saturday. Soon he began to hear a distant percussive rumbling noise. Timbers creaked, water dripped, but this noise was foreign to him.
The welder dismissed the noise and continued to work, but the rumbling persisted, and continued to grow louder.
The welder could no longer ignore the racket, and decided to investigate. Shining his light down the mine he only saw a torrent of mice coming towards him.
Mice were common in the mines and were a reassuring sight to miners because they often were the harbingers of dangerous gases.
However, the flood of mice running towards the lone welder were a troubling sight and the rumbling was getting closer and louder.
The welder decided to take the hint from the rodents and ran as well, all the while being chased by the terrifying cacophony. “His boot was coming untied, but he didn’t want to stop,” said Russell. “When he looked behind all he could see was the mice and the noise was gaining on him.”
Finally the welder saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Just as he was getting close to the edge he felt a hot breath on his neck, and when he dived out he heard a blood curdling scream like a dinosaur,” said Russell.
Expecting to be eaten, the welder was relieved when the mice washed over him and nothing happened.
Bending over he tied his shoe and when he looked over, in the coal dust, there was a three-toed footprint.
Shaken, he ran from the mine, across the bridge, and home where he would not speak of the terror for years.
Disturbing occurrences have continued throughout the years, and the staff of the coal mine have their own spiritual encounters.
“One year ago, I was in the wash house and I got a fire going to warm things up,” said Russell.
He went out to get wood from the area that was once the private shower for the bosses. In this room there is also a brass bed frame.
The origin and use of the bed is shrouded in rumor, but it has been told that the bed was used by the night watchman at the coal mine, as he had no other place to stay.
In exchange for sleeping in the wash house, the kindly guard would warm up the building and cook breakfast on the stove for the miners.
Maybe it was the apparition of the night watchman, or one of the others who used that bed over the years, but when Russell went to fetch wood to warm up the wash house, the bed banged against the wall three times.
“I was pretty freaked out and I have no explanation for it,” said Russell. “Whenever I go back I cheerfully announce what I’m doing whenever I go into the room.”
Other worldly activity is not just limited to the lone staff member either.
“I was doing a tour, and we were in the mine office and while I’m talking, there’s this old type writer on the desk and it starts vibrating,” described Russell. “We tried to recreate the vibration any natural way we could think of, but we have no explanation.”
Strange things are afoot at the Atlas Coal Mine, so much so that the mine has had paranormal investigators visit.
Visitors are welcome to do their own paranormal research during the Haunted Coal Mine, running from October 22 to 30.