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Exploring Edmonton's Long-Forgotten Coal Mines APRIL FOOLS! (4/1/2019)

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The Basics:
Event Type:Adventure
Event Location: Dawson Park - 10298 89 Street
Date(s) & Time:Mon, Apr 1 2019  6:50 PM
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Mar 1 2019 5:50:00 PM
Event Duration:Two hours Approximately
Difficulty Rating:D3: Moderate
Event Coordinator(s): Mark G
You must be logged in to get the Event Coordinator contact information.
Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 18 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:40
Minimum Group Size:13
Number Registered So Far: 45 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes

Long before Edmonton was a sprawling City, it was a bustling mining town and according to historians the area is still riddled with long- forgotten mining tunnels. Underneath downtown Edmonton, and east through Beverly, lies a network of collapsed coal mine tunnels (and some not collapsed); remnants of a booming industry that existed from the 1880s to the 1940s. See this CBC News Story video for the history.

Anyway, I've been intrigued by Edmonton's underground for awhile now, all starting from family bike rides throughout Edmonton's vast river valley trails. Since I grew up in the North neighborhoods, I've rode by a small metal fence door along one of the trails in the river valley, located somewhere around the red circle in the image below:

Eventually I asked my dad (who was with the City at the time on Council) what that little door led to, I had always assumed it was something to do with the sewer and he told me that it was an old mine hatch. Now that, blew my mind. There are mines, underground, right near where I hike and bike? After that I was reading an online article about the sewer stench in Edmonton. The article itself wasn't too interesting, but the comment section was. A comment posted by a guy named Steve mentioned that there was a mine under McNally High School, which I happen to go to for grade 10. How cool is that? A mine, right underneath where I had spent 7+ hours of my life each school day.

Though I knew that I wouldn't be able to find much information on Google regarding random abandoned mines in Edmonton, Alberta, I gave it a shot. By some sort of luck of the gods, I stumbled onto a website not only containing an Excel document listing nearly every single mine in Alberta, but a map showing the approximate locations of mines. Using these tools, I determined that there was in fact a mine under McNally High School, but one right beneath my Great Grand parents old house as well, and my dad's story about the mysterious door was in fact an extremely plausible answer. Check the picture below for proof:

The lined red area with the number 0049 is the mine that the door would have been attached to. The mine there was called 'Standard' and was operated by the Edmonton Standard Co., and it was in operation from 1906 - 1923, during that time over 335,000 tonnes of coal was mined.

The blue area is the mine that my high school is located on top of. It was operated by the Dawson Coal Co., and the mine was named 'Dawson'. The mine supplied over 600,000 tonnes of coal, and ran from 1907 - 1944. Even cooler info about this is that Dawson bridge is named after the man who started the mine, H.S. Dawson, and Dawson park is named after H.S. Dawson's son, John Forsyth Dawson. Neat, huh?

So with all of my maps I'm planning a further exploratory trip underground (this will be my second trip into the old mine shafts that have developed into caves, so far I've drawn crude maps using an iPhone mapping tool).

From this meeting place you follow us for a 10 minute walk to the mine shaft entrance where as the Edmonton Outdoor Club, I applied and received access through my dad's old City connections. As your knowledgeable guide (I have cave spelunked 2 or 3 times) I will take you on a natural history tour of Edmonton's Kinnaird Mine Shaft, an exciting underground world - etched and sculptured over numbers of years - through twisting passages and chambers of stalactites & stalagmites, animal bones and fossils then finally down to the tranquil pool I discovered in the lower grotto. Dinosaur bones have previously been discovered near this area by LRT tunnel crews, maybe we can find some!!

Here you change into caving equipment - helmets, lights, coveralls, knee-pads & gloves (whatever you have with you if you want). You will receive a safety briefing prior to starting the tour (I will have a Spot communicator with me for emergency calls since we are out of cell phone range). Some reports of fraggles copulating, so beware I hear they breed like tribbles! We may even find the connection shafts under the river to McNally and Forest Heights Ewok Village Trails area despite the current Spring run-off. We will assess the water table before hand in regards to flash flooding potential.

Edmonton's Mines are a constant 5C (41F) all year. Why is that? Because caves reflect the mean annual temperature so no matter what the outside weather it's always pleasant inside the cave. Similar to most alpine caves, it is cool in summer, mild in winter. I'm hoping to name my favourite section of the the mine maze as Fraggle Rock. We hope that some of you can be the first to name other shafts that we stumble upon in our underground journey this coming Monday.

Bring 1 or 2 small, wrapped energy snacks such as a granola bar, chocolate bar etc. for taking into the cave and bottled water for when you come out (this event could take longer than 2 hours if we get lost?). We recommend either a compact digital or disposable camera with flash for taking photos. Anything you wear or take into the cave will get covered in fine mud, so avoid new fancy clothing or camera equipment. There are no facilities at the site so use the toilets in Dawson Park before you go.

Do not expect to carry anything into the mine shafts. You will need to have both hands free at all times. I will bring rappelling gear.

Participants should ensure that their fitness is capable of withstanding strenuous activity such as climbing and crawling through dark, dirty, wet, cool and confined spaces. The tour will take approximately 2 hours from start to finish (assuming we don't get lost).

NOTE: Participants will be underground for a period of time, so if you suspect that you may be claustrophobic then it may not be a good event for you.

Required Items to Bring:
- Appropriate dress for caving is warm but not bulky clothes.
- Hiking boots
- Grippy gloves
- Flash light
- Bike Helmet (or something similar)
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
-Water breathing apparatus

How to Get There:
Event Directions:See the link below for map and directions. We will meet in the parking lot. Check out my picture on the "Volunteers" page.


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- Details of this event are subject to undergo a change at any point in time, with or without warning.

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