Frank Slide


90 SECONDS - FRANK SLIDE - HOW DID IT HAPPEN??

In the early morning hours of April 29, 1903, the largest landslide in North American history occurred when the north-east face of Turtle Mountain slid down onto part of the little village of Frank. So much devastation in only 90 seconds. Following the avalanche of rock, people began to look for answers as to why something like this could happen:

  • It is believed that Turtle Mountain had been "moving" for quite some time. Local natives had named the mountain "Turtle" because of their knowledge of its slow movement and instability.
  • Coal mining had recently begun inside Turtle Mountain making the mountain even more unstable.
  • Large cracks in the summit may have been affected by water freezing and expanding as it does in the cold winter months.

IMAGINE THE PEOPLE

One can only imagine the sound of 82 million tonnes of limestone tumbling off a mountain. Of the approximate 600 people that were living in Frank at the time of the slide, only about 70 people are believed to have died in this disaster. This in itself was a miracle. Of course, for a small close-knit community it was far too many.

Many other miracles happened that night; some miners managed to dig themselves out of Turtle Mountain only to find themselves in the middle of terrible devastation.

Some managed to free themselves from the rubble of their houses either by themselves or with the help of some brave rescuers.

There are many stories from that particular night of family members who, for some reason or another, decided not to return home for the night. Others had left the town earlier that day on business. Small unexpected changes in routines ended up saving many lives that night.

Unfortunately only 12 bodies were recovered from the tonnes of limestone rubble. If you visit the location of the slide, you will very quickly know why.

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