One Wild Town

Anthracite is a ghost town twice over and located within Banff National Park, seven km’s northeast from the town of Banff. The town existed from 1886 to 1904, during which time extensive coal mining operations were carried out. The town was one of many that sprang up around the building sites of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

By 1887 Anthracite’s population had grown to 300 and most of the town’s residents originated from the eastern United States. It consisted of one general store, one hardware store, one hotel, one pool hall, one restaurant and a barber shop. Unlike Canmore. Anthracite quickly attracted the attentions of the N.W.M.Police. The bulk of the miners were single and Anthracite became a hotspot for illegal activities; prostitution and the illegal consumption of alcohol. The local Justice of the Peace brought the most popular brothel owner May Buchanan in Anthracite before a court and fined her the then-extraordinary amount of $200 for liquor sale violations. May had came to Anthracite with a trio of vixens and this unholy quartette kept the mining community hopping with whiskey trading, bootlegging and lusty female brawls. In 1891, May along with her female trio were escorted out of Anthracite never to return. On December 7, 1893 May Buchanan – Alberta’s first female gangster – was killed in Edmonton by a distraught admirer.

Another infamous criminal also received a short shift at Anthracite – Ernest Cashel, the Cowboy Killer.

After much bad luck during the local mine’s operation, the coal company closed the mine in 1890. It was reopened the next year when W. H. McNeill agreed to finance the coal company, but after a series of floods and more bad luck, McNeill finally moved his operations to nearby Canmore.

Anthracite is located at approximately 51°11′33″N 115°29′38″W


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