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Old 07-24-2010, 08:53 PM   #31
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Blairmore

Blairmore is another old railroad town that has since been rolled into the municipality of Crowsnest Pass. During the 1930s this industrial town had some sympathies with communism. In 1933 they elected Canada's first communist town council and school board. The town council reformed the tax system and dumped Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day) as they said it was an imperialist holiday. They honored the Russian Revolution instead.


By the way, in the Crowsnest area, be sure to get off of the main highway and roll through these small towns adjacent to the highway. As you know, the "good stuff" is in the towns, not on the by-pass.

But before the communist issues here, the town had a crime boss of sorts named "Emporer Pic" (Emil Picariello).

Pic was born in Sicily and evenutally worked his way over to nearby Fernie, BC. He worked in a macaroni factory there. When the factory moved, he rented the facility and made ice cream (400 gallons a day), selling it off a wagon. He sometimes took payment in empty bottles and soon established a monopoly on bottles. He then sold them to bottlers. He was called the "Bottle King" at that time. Soon after he became a rep for a wine company.


As prohibition set in and squeezed legitimate booze operations, Pic adjusted with the constraints and moved his operations "underground". He bought a hotel in Blairmore and excavated a room/tunnel under the place so he could move booze in and out.


Not sure which hotel, but you get the idea.


Anyway, Pic would run booze through the pass and managed to foil provincial police checkpoints by covering his loads with bags of flour. Capone style, he was a well known philanthropist for donating the flour to those in need.


Even though people knew he was a booze runner, Pic became a wealthy and respected citizen of the town. He became an alderman and contributed money to striking coal miner's families in need. He got involved with one of his sales rep's wife who got involved in his booze operations.



The good life ended when the Alberta Provincial Police nailed one of his convoys and shot Pic's son in the hand in the ensuing chase. Pic heard about his son being shot and with his sales rep's wife went to the police barracks. Both Pic and his girl had guns. In the end Pic shot a constable, went on the run in the hills, got caught, got tried, and both he and the girl were hung. Not to glamorize a criminal, but this guy had everything going for him until he got involved in this episode.

Not the kind of history you find on a plaque in the park in these towns.

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Old 07-25-2010, 09:02 AM   #32
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Kananaskis Road - 940

The other option for by-passing Elk Pass is the Kananaskis Road (940). As I mentioned, one might want to take 940 north and 22 south depending on how they get to Banff.


You pick up the road in Coleman.


It is a very scenic run.






Sometimes the road twists around a bit and sometimes it it more like this.


There is a wildland fire base along the way.






I was surprised to find oil on the road to hold the dust down at the base. Some of it was floating in small puddles on the road.




A little story about this particular helicopter. About five years ago it was being used for heli-skiing operations near Whistler. It picked up a bunch of skiers near the base of a glacier, took off and then got caught in downflowing winds. It was operating at about 92% capacity for conditions, and even with full power it settled into the snow while moving forward. It tipped up on it's nose, and rolled to one side. The main rotor chopped the tail off, the nose was crushed, and the battery ejected. Only minor injuries for the passengers and pilot.


Nice rivers in this area.














When you get to the end of this stretch (about 65 miles I think), there is a service station where 940 meets paved 40.

Cannonshot screwed with this post 07-25-2010 at 01:35 PM
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:25 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Cannonshot
Shane, doesn't NZ have similar stuff?
Hey B

yes it does but you know it's the old story - grass is greener etc etc

i think that's why i make such an enthusiastic traveller..."gee this is American air" etc etc etc...everythings new and exciting outside my own borders

Faaaaaabulous RR (again)

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Old 07-25-2010, 01:11 PM   #34
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Your ride reports and pictures are awesome, I love the fact that you do so much historical research on all these places and share it with us.
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:13 PM   #35
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Crowsnest Pass



Crowsnest Pass once was full of coal mines. If you look at this aerial image you can see the Frank slide.




This tree (the Burmis Tree) marked the entrance to the Crowsnest Pass area for an estimated 7 centuries. It died in the 1970s and finally it fell over in 1998. The tree stood as some kind of symbol to enduring the hardships of the region so when it toppled, people and various tiers of government went into action. With the help of some stainless steel, adjustable mounts, and fancy engineering, they put the tree back up to continue to serve as some symbol of inspiration. Some say it is one of the most photographed trees in the world. Pix


The Leitch Collieries had a good run in the area in the early 1900s. Then the coal market went soft and they went belly up. Some contracts never came through to sell coal to enterprises in europe and the railroad. There are some ruins from their works that you can visit.






This is the Terex Titan which is on display in Sparwood. It was once the big dog of the mines as far was tandem axle dump trucks go. At 23' high, 66' long, 25' wide, weighing 260 tons, and having a payload of 350 tons, it was once the largest in the world. Built in 1974, it was powered by a 3,000 hp locomotive engine that powered electric traction motors.


Even with downtime (a lot of down time early on), this thing hauled 3.5 million tons between 74 and 78. In another six year stretch, it operated with 70% up time. It was retired in 1991 and since has been outgunned by a newer model made by Cat. The engine has been pulled from the truck that is otherwise pretty well restored for the display. Seems like I read that some enterprise bought this (used) at one time for $200K for the truck plus another million for spare parts.

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Old 07-25-2010, 04:24 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by SGrider
Your ride reports and pictures are awesome, I love the fact that you do so much historical research on all these places and share it with us.
Thanks! Used to be I would ride places and see something interesting. I knew there had to be a story about what I was seeing but I wouldn't know what it was. If I looked something up once I got back, it didn't seem as interesting. Now I look for the stories before I go. It makes for a much richer experience on the ride. Afterward I try to make it a little better for the next person by sharing some of the stories in the ride report. I'm glad that you are entertained by it. Thanks again for the encouragement.
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Old 07-25-2010, 06:02 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonshot
The other option for by-passing Elk Pass is the Kananaskis Road (940). As I mentioned, one might want to take 940 north and 22 south depending on how they get to Banff.

Ahhh, 940. I remember parts of it very well. The really deep, loose gravelly parts!
Doing it on a VFR in 2000 was not the best choice of route for the available equipment, but the views were awesome. I don't remember the wildfire center which means either my CRS is acting up, or it's a fairly new establishment.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
When did you do the ride? All the sheep I saw in July had smooth summer coats. In your pics they are still losing their winter coats. (Stones Sheep, not Big Horns in that area IIRC).
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Old 07-25-2010, 06:22 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by MapMaster
Ahhh, 940. I remember parts of it very well. The really deep, loose gravelly parts!
Doing it on a VFR in 2000 was not the best choice of route for the available equipment, but the views were awesome. I don't remember the wildfire center which means either my CRS is acting up, or it's a fairly new establishment.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
When did you do the ride? All the sheep I saw in July had smooth summer coats. In your pics they are still losing their winter coats. (Stones Sheep, not Big Horns in that area IIRC).
Nearly all of 940 is a pretty hard packed industrial forest highway right now, although like all gravel roads the thin layer of loose stones on the hard packed surface can be a little "slippery" in the turns from time to time. The road is in good shape for most bikes except for some annoying stutter bumps on some of the climbs (often avoided by going into the other lane).

The references and signage for the sheep keep referring to them as Big Horn and Rocky Mountain Sheep (same, same) but I never saw any horns that curled all the way around. Perhaps I was only seeing ewes whose horns only have a mild curvature. I was surprised by their ragged appearance in mid-July, but perhaps winter lingers a little longer in this area.

Glad the pictures brought back some pleasant memories for you.
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Old 07-25-2010, 06:48 PM   #39
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Great Pictures - keep it coming

I traveled your same roads last year. The pic below was definately taken on July 22 of last year, so they must loose their outer fur in July/Aug each year. Counted 50 in one herd where this picture was taken. Picture was within 20->30 miles of where your picture as taken, BUT based on the background cliff I'm pretty sure YOUR picture and MY pic were at the SAME location. As I go back every few yrs. I find they tend to always be in the same place along the road. I seem to always get the name/breed wrong, but the Game Warden told me these were Rocky Mountain Sheep.

Thanks for sharing your trip.

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Old 07-25-2010, 07:14 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonshot
Nearly all of 940 is a pretty hard packed industrial forest highway right now, although like all gravel roads the thin layer of loose stones on the hard packed surface can be a little "slippery" in the turns from time to time. The road is in good shape for most bikes except for some annoying stutter bumps on some of the climbs (often avoided by going into the other lane).

I looked forward to the thin layered stretches (the VFR's okay on dirt and shallow gravel, 2-3 inches of loose gravel had me crying for my mommy, and it's absolutely a shitty mudder)!

The references and signage for the sheep keep referring to them as Big Horn and Rocky Mountain Sheep (same, same) but I never saw any horns that curled all the way around. Perhaps I was only seeing ewes whose horns only have a mild curvature. I was surprised by their ragged appearance in mid-July, but perhaps winter lingers a little longer in this area.

My bad (Can't Remember Shit again), Stone's Sheep are further north (they start about where the AlCan Hwy does and go north from there). I was in K country in early July, so maybe they hadn't started to shed/regrow the next season's coat at that point.

Glad the pictures brought back some pleasant memories for you.
Amen, subscribed. I want to see how many (paved) divide passes are left for me do to in the States - I did all seven of them in Canada
I'm overdue for another trip out west!
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:30 PM   #41
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Can't wait for more!
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Old 07-25-2010, 08:11 PM   #42
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Always a treat

Always a treat to read the Colonel's journal's. Father and son were just on the CDR on the way to some Colorado mountain passes and Moab in mid July. Can't wait to hear more. Thanks for sharing and making the effort to document such a ride.
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:32 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Faribo
Can't wait for more!
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4-s-hsky
Always a treat to read the Colonel's journal's. Father and son were just on the CDR on the way to some Colorado mountain passes and Moab in mid July. Can't wait to hear more. Thanks for sharing and making the effort to document such a ride.
Hi guys! CannonTrek VII seems like a long time ago. . .

That father/son trip west sounds great!
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:54 PM   #44
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Elkford

Elkford is a company town formed in 1970 as a place for coal miners to live. It bills itself as the wilderness capital of BC. It is about 20 miles north of Sparwood and is kind of a loop on my version of the Canada route, but it is worth the trip. If you are really ambitious, you can run about 65 miles from Sparwood all the way up to the no motorized gate at Elk Pass. I opted to loop back at Elkford.


This valley is all about coal. If you look at the aerial imagery you can see several large open pit mines. You can score a mine tour in Elkford (sometimes). The continental divide and AB/BC border is the ridge that defines the east side of this valley.


One part of the loop is a paved road and the other involves unpaved company roads on the mine side of the river.


A lot of coal comes out of this region.


Elkford is a typical company town.






It was raining when I rode this section so the picture quality suffered a bit.


One of the company roads along the river.


A very nice ride.




Elkford is aptly named. There were a lot of elk in this area. I think they like whatever grass the mines plant.




Glad this wasn't an ambush (elkbush?) as the elk seemed to enjoy the tactical advantage.


I scouted another inviting looking road looking for a shortcut.


It wasn't taking me where I wanted to go. A look at the tracks makes it clear that large mining trucks use this road. It was a very smooth surface (unlike the others) so the weight of those large trucks must keep things in shape. While I was on a narrow road that led to this one I unexpectedly ran through a herd of elk that was in the trees on both sides of the road. Although they moved around a lot (causing me to grip the bars and carefully clear the area) they didn't spook like I thought they would. Must be used to traffic on these roads.


All in all this was a worthwhile loop.

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Old 07-26-2010, 03:46 AM   #45
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This is awesome...

And I bet it's only gonna get better from here.

Subscribed!

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