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UER Forum > Archived Canada: Alberta / BC > Michel Hotel (Viewed 497 times)
Supermom 


Location: East Kootenays BC
Gender: Female




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Michel Hotel
< on 3/17/2009 4:04 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 

The Crow's Nest Pass Coal company (CNP Coal) braced itself for success upon the opening of a mine site in the Michel Creek Valley in 1899. Tests on the bituminous coal revealed a low ash content and 68 percent fixed carbon, meaning the coal was perfect for coking and selling for huge profits. CNP Coal started slowly on the Michel mine, but after prompting from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), they began producing more than 11,000 tonnes per year by 1900.

While mining operations were successful, the town of Michel experienced problems in its first years. Starting in 1901, the town was struck with fire for three consecutive years. The first blaze had the greatest impact on new residents, devastating many who began their lives anew despite the loss of everything they owned. For the following years, the damage of the fires lingered in the memory of the town. Just as a sense of safety was being restored, the Great Fire of 1908—perhaps the most memorable blaze of that era raged throughout the Elk Valley. Beginning in Fernie, 35 kilometres away, the fire travelled upward to Michel Creek. The blaze was thought to be so dangerous that women and children were rushed out of the province and into Alberta for safety.

Also affecting the townspeople to a profound extent were the numerous mining disasters. In 1904, tragedy struck when an explosion shook the No. 3 mine. Rescue crews immediately descended upon the scene in the hopes of finding survivors. In discovering a blocked mine shaft, it became quickly apparent that there would be few, if any, left alive. Using pickaxes and shovels, even retrieving bodies took a long time. By the time rescuers reached the miners, their fears were confirmed. Seven miners, newly immigrated from Britain, were found dead beneath a collapsed wall.

Another mining disaster occurred on 11 August 1916. The three explosions that occurred were more massive that the 1904 tragedy, and the consequences far worse. This time the explosion extended beyond the mine, demolishing nearby buildings and shaking the town. Again the rescue crew made a vain attempt to reach the trapped men, but with high gas levels in the cave, they were forced to turn back for several hours. It became clear that there were no survivors when rescuers continued, only to find a tiny passageway that remained open. As a result of the explosion, 13 dead bodies were hauled from the mine.

The Great Depression strained relationships between workers and their companies. Many miners, reeling from the previous accidents and poor labour relations, turned to communist doctrine and unions in an attempt to protect themselves.

By the 1960s, oil and gas replaced coal as the major fuel used in North America. After years of neglect and armed with no new money to invest, Michel's future was uncertain. Export company, Kaiser Coal had established Sparwood as the centre for the burgeoning coal export industry, and expanded the town with new commercial and residential development. Work was available to Michel miners, as long as they would relocate. If any uncertainty remained for residents of Michel, it was erased when the British Columbia government decided to destroy the Michel-Natal settlements. Though some residents refused to leave, they were ultimately left with no choice. By 1978, the last vestiges of Michel were destroyed. Though some residents refused to leave, they were ultimately left with no choice.

Today, the only structure remaining on the sites of the valley’s settlements is the Michel Country Inn, a two-storey edifice darkly trimmed to contrast with the dusky rose colour of its painted stucco, guarded by a cadre of ancient little White Super Power dump trucks. Dating from 1929, the hotel was the second to rise on this site, the first, completed in November of 1909, having been lost to fire. With the hopes of a tourist attraction in the mine buildings next door dashed when the Municipality pushed said buildings down around the turn of the Millennium, the Inn’s owner slowed his restoration efforts, struggling for a couple of years trying to make ends meet by selling meals and drinks to travellers and trying to lure locals away from the restaurants of Sparwood and the nearby Municipality of Crowsnest across the border in Alberta. Come 2006 he has given up and the old building is closed, awaiting the same fate as its neighbours.

I have been wanting to go "visit" the Michel hotel since it closed it 2006. I should have. The work of the vandals really pisses me off. It looks as if the hotel has been abandoned for decades instead of a mere 3 years. Everything breakable has been smashed. Senseless vandalism everywhere in a place of heritage. I was really angry going through there. Every single piece of glass, broken. There was a HUGE fish tank in the main lobby measuring 12 foot long by 3 foot wide-smashed. The piano has been ripped apart and even has evidence of fires being started on the keys. This is one place where anything salvageable should be rescued out of there. I am going back for something I found of historical value but left behind, so I can give it to the Sparwood museum because if not, it will just be vandalised.

On to the pics....please excuse the photographic quality, every single window was boarded up and it was pitch black. I used a flash for every picture and couldn't really see what I was taking pictures of.


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Mowgli-dog 


Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Gender: Male




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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 1 on 3/18/2009 1:38 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Nice.....thanks for the history and pics.

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." -George Orwell

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UniqueStyle 


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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 2 on 3/18/2009 2:25 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 

Thanks for the history and I liked the pictures.
Best of both worlds




KublaKhan 


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland


With Satan, it's always gimmie, gimmie.

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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 3 on 3/20/2009 6:11 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Outstanding post. Thanks for this history as well.

"The truth is knowable. But probably not, ever, incontrovertible."
--Don DeLillo
PICS
NinjaKlutz 




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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 4 on 3/20/2009 10:38 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Stellar post. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

NINJAKLUTZ IS NO LONGER ACTIVE. THIS USER HAS NOT EXPLORED IN A LONG TIME, AND HAS PERMANENTLY WITHDRAWN FROM URBAN EXPLORATION. HOWEVER, THIS ACCOUNT IS MAINTAINED FOR CULTURAL AND ARCHIVAL PURPOSES. CHEERS!
SteamPunk 


Location: Sailing the seas of sleaze.




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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 5 on 3/21/2009 2:57 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
I Shall be in that neck of the woods in aq few days, I might make a side track to see it....

I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it, and what's it seems weird and scary to me, and it'll happen to you, too!
Supermom 


Location: East Kootenays BC
Gender: Female




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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 6 on 3/21/2009 3:52 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by SteamPunk
I Shall be in that neck of the woods in aq few days, I might make a side track to see it....


Very easy to find, right on the highway. There's lots more to see in the yard too, like old vehicles and a mobile home the previous owners lived in. Have fun on the ski hill!



A. Lien 


Location: Fantasy Island B.C.
Gender: Male


Abductees Anonymous all welcome

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Re: Michel Hotel
<Reply # 7 on 3/28/2009 7:55 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Cool location and photos indeed, interesting to learn about the Natal disaster, a scary part of B.C. History I had never heard of. Welcome.

My sister is Charlotte Light and Dark. Who am I?

Farewell and thank you... "I was doing something that I thought could have some impact someday. In many ways, it's really these photographs that kept me going creatively." Dennis Hopper
UER Forum > Archived Canada: Alberta / BC > Michel Hotel (Viewed 497 times)



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