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Fair Warning
The villagers were warned. The Indians told them the mountain was moving. They didn't listen, and tragedy happened. Sometimes we handle eternal issues the same way.

The experience was unforgettable. As a small boy I stood in what seemed a massive graveyard. Nestled in the lower Canadian Rockies between Lethbridge and Cranbrook is Crowsnest Pass. I stood there amazed, viewing what is known as the Frank Slide. An entire valley was strewn with massive chunks of limestone. Underneath lay the former town of Frank and many of its residents.

Fair WarningFair Warning
On April 29, 1903, a piece of limestone 425 meters high, 1000 meters wide, and 150 meters thick weighing 80-million tons, broke off the eastern summit of Turtle Mountain and slid down the mountain side, burying the south side of the town of Frank to depths of 30 meters and rushing up the opposite side of the valley to a height of 120 meters. The debris covers about three square kilometers to a depth averaging 14 meters.

This bustling town had mushroomed around a productive coal mine yielding more than 1,000 tons daily of the finest coal in the nation. Voracious steam engines plying the Canadian railway system consumed it. The town's future seemed secure, and coal seemed to be in limitless supply.

Fair Warning
The Frank Slide

Driven by their quest for money, townspeople ignored repeated warnings. Towering over the town was Turtle Mountain, a massive hulk of limestone and shale layered with veins of coal in its core. "After all," they said, "this mountain was here before we came, and it will be here long after we are gone."

Repeated geological warnings were ignored though the Blackfoot and Cree Indians, whose ancestors had inhabited the region for centuries, refused to camp anywhere near "the Turtle," convinced that the mountain was slowly moving.

The miners themselves had grown accustomed to strange rumbling sounds while deep in the mine shafts below the mountain. Often support beams would give way under the pressure of shifting rock.

Then one night, on April 29, 1903, it happened. Villagers were asleep and few lights were burning in the town. Suddenly and without further warning, the entire rock face of Turtle Mountain came crashing down more than 3,000 feet into the valley below, rolling up the opposite mountainside. In less than two minutes more than 70 million tons of huge rock chunks, some as large as a four-storey building, literally obliterated the town and many of its residents.

Fair Warning
The collapse of Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide the day after.
Turtle Mountain is part of the Blairmore Range located in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, north of Waterton National Park.

Some survivors living in a part of the town not in the pathway of the cascading rock told harrowing tales of rock chunks rolling right through their houses. The night shift in the mine was totally cut off as the rocks had covered the nine entrance. The saga of their rescue is one of courage and determination as rescuers bvattled suffocation from mine gas plus the threat of rising water in the mine because the river had been dammed by debris and rock.

Subsequent investigation by geologists discovered giant fissures in the mountain, some a mile long, 150 feet deep and 15 feet wide. Constant erosion and freezing over the centuries had literally forced the mountain apart.

Fair Warning
Turtle Mountain continues to deteriorate.

To visit the Frank Slide today is an awesome experience. These huge rock chunks stand as a memorial to those who were warned but chose to ignore the warnings.

The Bible clearly warns of coming judgment and destruction. Yet this Bible provides the truth of a way of escape through Jesus Christ. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Then also in Hebrews 2:3 we read, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?"

We all have a choice to make!

Roy Upton is ordained with Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. He has served as an evangelist, pastor and missionary and is a former editor of Testimony.

Originally published in Testimony, April, 2003.




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