The Frank Slide is Canada’s most deadly rockslide in history. Unfortunately, many lives were lost, and harsh lessons were learned.
The Frank Slide occurred on April 29th, 1903, and killed close to 100 people. This disaster taught the world critical lessons: Namely, the importance of proper land use management and planning, as well as the monitoring of natural hazards and heeding their warnings.
Below, Living Church of God reviews just what happened during the Frank Slide and what we’ve learned from this preventable disaster as people of faith.
In the Canadian Rockies, there lies Turtle Mountain. On April 29, 1903, an avalanche occurred that was heard all the way from Calgary some 200kms away. Here are some facts of the Frank Slide:
- How long did it last? Over 100 seconds
- How fast did the avalanche move? Up to 120kms/hour
- How big was the rockslide? Approximately 1km wide, half of a km high, and 150m thick
- How much did the avalanche weigh? 110 million metric tons
- How big was the affected area? 3 square kilometers, up to 45m deep
- How many people were killed? More than 90, though most bodies were never recovered
What Caused the Slide
There are three main factors that led to the Turtle Mountain avalanche known as the Frank Slide: an unstable geological structure, human mining activity, and weather patterns.
Turtle Mountain unfortunately featured nearly vertical sedimentary rock layers, which should be horizontal. This is one of the most dangerous conditions a mountain can develop. As if that’s not enough, a major fault running through the mountain further weakened its integrity. Additionally, the bottom layers of the mountain were softer sandstone or shale supporting much denser limestone above.
The bottom half of the mountain had large surface cracks that allowed water to enter. As weather conditions changed, the cycle of water and ice widened the cracks over time.
For two years before the slide, coal miners were rapidly draining the coal veins inside the mountain. This further weakened the supporting structure of the mountain.
What We’ve Learned – Prevention for Future Collapse
There were three main lessons learned from the Frank Slide: land use planning and management, monitoring of natural hazards, and heeding the warning signs of God. The slide was unstoppable, but the severity of the consequences, such as the death count and destruction of the town, could have been mitigated.
Many of the warning signs of the avalanche went unheeded, such as the sounds of the mountain moving for 6 months prior and the unusual weather patterns in the weeks leading up to the slide. Technology now monitors a variety of factors so that those warning signs are noticed right away, fully understood, and steps are taken to reduce risk.
The Frank Slide also taught us how important it is to analyze the potential consequences of our actions. Unlike this collapse, the coming collapse – of economic, political, and environmental proportions – will bring the entire world to the point of destruction. Jesus Christ once spoke of catastrophe coming suddenly, swiftly, and without warning.
Today, we know how to minimize the risks to the environment we work in and the surrounding communities. Proper land use planning reduces risk by assessing potential hazards, regulating activity, educating communities, and conducting surveillance. However, we have yet to truly embrace the warnings of God. Like the Frank Slide, indications of our global collapse have made their appearances known. We must as a society heed the warnings. We can even make a difference individually by rejoicing in the word of God, accepting His sacrifice, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Collapse is coming, but you may be one of those He protects.