The Frank Slide

Let me remind you… About the Frank Slide               

“The mountain that moves.” That’s what the Blackfoot and Kutenai Indians In Alberta Canada called this peak nestled in the base of the Rocky mountains. This did not deter the people who Eventually settled in the little town below it that they called Frank. In fact, they renamed it “Turtle Mountain” after the shape. The original name of the mountain didn’t seem to create any worry for the 600 people who lived there, but in 1903, just 2 years after calling it home, this would prove to be tragic.

At 4am on April 29, 1903, the miners of Frank were already deep in the mountain side. Their wives and children still asleep in their beds below in the town. Ten minutes later, a small rumble turned into a roar as the mountain side– exasperated by the mining– had given way to years of the small movements and completely sheared off, just as the natives predicted.

120 miles away in the city of Cochrane, the roar could be heard echoing off of the mountains, but no one knew what it was. The settlers of Frank, the town named after the Montana miner who founded it in 1901, were not so lucky.
Boulders the size of cars rolled and bounced off one another, flowing as easily as water in a riverbed. Trees, rocks and 80-100 million tons of mountainside debris buried a section of the town in less than 90 seconds. When the mountainside finally stopped moving and there was no more rumbling, the residents were 490 feet below the rubble in a state you can only imagine.

Out of the 600 people that day, 90 people perished in the slide. Out of the 90, only 12 bodies were recovered. There are stories about a sole baby found alone. Her name was Glayds Ennis; saved by her mother, who cleared the mud from her airways. Frankie Slide was another name they gave to some other fictional babies who they claimed to be the “only survivor” of the slide, “found on top a boulder”. Unfortunately, this was just a rumor that many people who survived like to take credit for.

17 miners were trapped after the slide. After many hours they managed to dig their way out where they were confronted with a sight that would make their heart crumble and stomachs flip. Once, where they could look down on the houses where their families lived, now all they could see was rock all the way to the other side of the foothills.  They rushed down to help, searching for their families, now buried almost 500 feet below with the weight of thousands of tons on them. But it was too late. Without modern day tools—and even with them, the effort was regretfully useless.

Not much more is known about the event that day but if you ask any Albertan, they will be able to tell you about it. Driving through the Frank slide gives off a very eerie feeling knowing what lies beneath. Looking up at the mountain side, you can still see the scar where the rock fell.

 In 1906, they built a road through the rubble, and in 1922, during some road repairs, 7 more bodies were recovered, bringing the total to 19 out of 90.
It was known to be the largest landslide in Canada to this day. The mountain? It still moves; about 1cm per year. There is a monitoring system along with an interpretive center on the mountain. They say one day there will be another slide. Luckily, there are no homes in the way now. Buildings were moved, including the Frank Imperial hotel, which now sits in Vulcan, Alberta.

If you go to frank today, you could drive right through, barely noticing anything but a bunch of rock and boulders on either side of the road, but the tale is one that will linger forever.

*Edit: from what I hear, that whole area, for miles, is allegedly haunted.

Online Sources:
Mysteries of Canada
the Canadian encyclopedia

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