The Ecotrust Museum operates the Bellevue Mine Tours from May to September and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to go a short distance underground into a historic coal mine. Hardhats, lights, and knowledgable guides are provided. There are many on-site artifacts both in the mine and near the entrance.
The Bellevue Mine was active from about 1905 until 1961 and was the reason for the town of Bellevue‘s existence. Most of the coal produced was sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Like other mines in the Pass, methane gas and coal-dust were significant hazards. On December 9, 1910 an underground explosion claimed the lives of 31 of the 42 men on a partial shift – but had the explosion occured during a full shift, up to 200 men would have been in the mine which could have surpassed the Hillcrest Mine Disaster (only a few kilometres away) for loss of life.
Low wages and poor working conditions often led to labour unrest in the Pass, and the Bellevue Mine was closed due to major strikes in 1911, 1919, 1920, 1922 and 1924. Declining demand for coal, particularly when the CPR began to convert from steam to diesel, sealed the fate of the mine which closed in 1961.
Information on hours of operation, admission fees, and the mine’s heritage can be found on the Bellevue Underground Mine Tour website (external site). After touring the mine you can learn more about the historic coal industry in the Crowsnest Pass by visiting the Crowsnest Museum.