With heavy snow pack still in the mountains we attempted a foothills hike hoping conditions would be better. We choose the Sulphur Springs loop trail, but it was no fun, not even worth a trip report. We spent most of our time either post-holing through heavy snow banks or slogging through mud and slush. No fun at all! Given how miserable it was and so as not to make the day a total loss, we decided to do a short side trip to explore Ings mine (the name of the owner was George Ings).
Actually to call this a mine would be a stretch. It is clearly a prospect to check for a suitable seam. It only goes back 30m and intersects a minor coal band. There is little history to be found on this mine, understandable given its small output (if there was any). But from I can find, this mine, and/or perhaps others in the area were used to supply fuel to some local gas drilling rigs around the time of world war one. Ironic that coal was used to drill for gas. The operation dates from the early 1910s.
There is supposedly another mine up the valley of the same name. Located near the famous Bragg Creek ice caves, I am not sure if it was also owned by Ings, or if the maps have it wrong, or if I am wrong. In looking at report from others though it does appear something existed there, and the debris and flotsam around does hint at a coal mine. So maybe Ings mine comprises both these workings? I will continue to research but doubt much will turn up.
What may be surprising to those that live around here is that in addition to oil and gas, good quality coal exists in the hills of Kananaskis and even into the prairies. Outcroppings can be found on hillsides or in deep river valleys. No serious mining has taken place in the vicinity, however many small domestic mines (dug by farmers, ranchers and others) are known in the area. Along with this small prospect which was an attempt at a commercial mine.
In addition to here, the author has seen workings along the Bow River near the ghost town of Glenbow and west of Cochrane, along the Sheep River valley in many places, near the town of Black Diamond (so named for coal) and others. All within a short distance of Calgary.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: May 2009
Warning: Mines are dangerous. Coal mines in particular, even little ones like this.