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Title: Nordegg  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Alexo, Alberta, Clearwater County, Alberta, North Saskatchewan River, Hamlets in Alberta, Beazer, Alberta
Collection: Clearwater County, Alberta, Hamlets in Alberta
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Nordegg is located in Alberta
Location of Nordegg in Alberta
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Region Central Alberta
Census Division No. 9
Municipal district Clearwater County
Incorporated 1914
 • Reeve Pat Alexander
 • Governing body
 • MP Blake Richards (Wild Rose-Cons)
 • MLA Joe Anglin (Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre-Wildrose)
Elevation 1,287 m (4,222 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 200 (estimate)
 • Density 250/km2 (600/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
Postal code span T0M 2H0
Area code(s) +1-403
Highways Highway 11
Waterways Lake Abraham, Shunda Creek

Nordegg is a hamlet in west-central Alberta, Canada within Clearwater County.[1] It is located in the North Saskatchewan River valley in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, at the crossroads of David Thompson Highway and the Highway 734 spur of the Bighorn Highway.


  • History 1
    • Coal mining 1.1
    • Nordegg today 1.2
  • Climate 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


In 1907 Martin Nordegg of the German Development Company, working with D.B. Dowling of the Geological Survey of Canada, staked claims covering coal deposits near the Brazeau and North Saskatchewan Rivers. At Nordegg's urging, Brazeau Collieries Ltd. was founded to exploit them, and the Canadian Northern Railway (which later became part of the Canadian National Railway) agreed to build a rail line to the northern part of the area. This led to the founding of the coal-mining town that was named after Nordegg (the name probably means "North Corner" in a German dialect).[2]

A small camp was established at the future townsite in 1911, coal production began in earnest in 1912, and the rail line, known as the Brazeau Branch, arrived at the town in 1913. In 1914 World War I broke out, German assets in Canada were frozen, and in the summer of 1915 Martin Nordegg was asked to leave Canada and he departed for New York. He was allowed to return in 1921, but he had lost his position with the mine. He never lost interest in the town that he had helped plan, however.[2]

Coal mining

Of the five coal seams at Nordegg, two were mined: the No. 2 and No. 3 Seams, which averaged 7.75 feet (2.4m) and 15.92 feet (4.87m) thick, respectively, and were separated by about 123 feet (37.5m) of rock. They dipped at an angle of 12° and were worked by underground room and pillar methods. Production peaked at 500,000 tons in 1923. 5 small briquetting plants were added to the operation in 1937 to produce a marketable product from powdery fine coal.[2] After a fire in 1950 all 5 burnt down completely and were replaced with one large factory of completely steel and concrete construction.[2]

On October 31, 1941, a large underground explosion in the No. 3 Mine killed 29 miners.[2][3] Mining resumed six weeks later, and during 1942 the Nordegg mine was one of the top-producing coal mines in Alberta. A surface mining operation was added in 1946.[2]

In 1950 a fire destroyed the tipple and the briquetting plant. A new, more modern briquetting plant was built and began operation at the end of 1951, but a large debt was incurred for its construction. Coal markets declined, primarily due to the decreasing use of steam coal as railroads replaced steam locomotives with diesel, and Brazeau Collieries closed permanently in 1955. The coal reserves at Nordegg had not been exhausted, but mining never resumed.[2] Total production was about 9.6 million tonnes of low- to medium-volatile bituminous coal.[4]

Nordegg today

Nordegg's maximum population was about 2,500 in the early 1940s, while the largest number ever employed at the mine was close to 800.[2] After the mine closed most of the population left, and today there are only a few hundred people remaining.

Most of the surface coal processing operation is still standing. In 1993, it was declared a Provincial Historic Resource, and a National Historic Site of Canada in 2002. The original Nordegg town site is open to the public. At the mine site, visitors may experience a guided tour of the coal handling, processing and support facilities during the summer tourist season. Tourists should keep in mind that actual entrance into the underground mine itself is no longer possible or allowed, as time has caused the contents to collapse, thereby rendering a tour impossible. However there is a stretch of about 16 feet of the entrance to the No.2 Mine that has been restored, and can be entered, but after that 16 or so feet the entry is blocked off.

A land exchange with the Province of Alberta has stimulated redevelopment of Nordegg. A mountain acreage community is developing north of Highway 11, adjacent to the Shunda Creek Hostel, and Clearwater County has released plans for the redevelopment of downtown Nordegg, much on the footprint of the original townsite.

Nordegg is now associated with tourism and recreation, primarily because of its location near to so many parks and recreations areas, for example Ram Falls Provincial Park, the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve and the dozens of small campsites along the David Thompson Highway. The distinctive Coliseum and Shunda (Baldy) Mountains overlook Nordegg and are rewarding day-hikes. Most popular in the area is the Westward Bound Campground company which services over 21 campgrounds along the David Thompson Highway Westward Bound

The actual town site of Nordegg has a gas station and hotel with full service restaurant and lounge boasting the "Mount Baldy Burger".Nordegg Lodge The self proclaimed 'smallest little liquor store in the West' known as the Beer Cabin Beer Cabin nearby Suga Shack & Wienery food cart style eating. The museum building Historical Minesite is home to the Miners Cafe which is known for it's fresh baked bread and homemade pies served daily Miner's Cafe

Nordegg is the last community on the David Thompson Highway before reaching Banff National Park to the west. The area west of Nordegg is known as the Bighorn Backcountry, and includes many excellent hiking trails. Off highway vehicle use is permitted in some areas, but local authorities are notoriously strict; preferring to hand out fines and summons rather than warnings.


Climate data for Nordegg
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.7
Average high °C (°F) −4.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −11.3
Average low °C (°F) −18.5
Record low °C (°F) −47.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 26.6
Source: Environment Canada[5]

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Belliveau, Anne (1999). Small moments in time, the story of Alberta's Big West country. Calgary, Alberta: Detselig Enterprises Ltd, 238 p.  
  3. ^ Rocky Mountain House Reunion Historical Society (1977). Days Before Yesterday : History of Rocky Mountain House district. Rocky Mountain House: Rocky Mountain House Reunion Historical Society. p. 112.  
  4. ^ ERCB, 1985. Coal Mine Atlas: operating and abandoned coal mines in Alberta. Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, Report Series ERCB-45, Calgary, Alberta.
  5. ^ Environment Canada—Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, accessed 23 March 2010

6. When Coal Was King: The Brazeau Collieries Operation at Nordegg, Alberta. Compiled by Anne (McMullen) Belliveau for the Nordegg Historical Society. 2001.

External links

  • Visiting Nordegg for the Weekend

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