Jasper National Park of Canada
Pocahontas Mine Site
Town of Pocahontas© Parks Canada
The Coal Mine Trail is a short dayhike that winds its way past the old buildings and concrete foundations of the once-thriving mining town of Pocahontas. Built in 1908, Pocahontas grew to a population of almost 2000 and boasted amenities such as running water. However, in 1921 market prices and the poor quality of the coal forced the closure of the mine. The great tipples (where the coal was sorted from the rock and loaded onto trains) were torn down and most of the buildings moved. Today the forest has reclaimed nearly all that remains of this era in Jasper's history.
Mining is no longer permitted in national parks in Canada, but this resource extraction industry and others were carried out in some parks until 1930 when the National Parks Act forbade them. Under even stricter protection today, mining will not resume in national parks again, but mining along Jasper's border continues to this day.
Mines and other industries that surround national parks affect the health of large ecosystems and consequently the health of the parks. Concerns over the long-term impacts of habitat alteration and the disruption of grizzly bear movement patterns that may be vital to the ecological integrity of Jasper National Park have been expressed by Parks Canada over the proposed new Cheviot Mine on the east boundary of the park.
Jasper is working with regional land managers (forestry, mining, and provincial parks) through partnerships like the Foothills Model Forest to determine ways of managing large ecosystems in an ecologically sound and productive manner.