"Historical Rocky Mountain House" Rocky Mountain House by Darby2

Rocky Mountain House Travel Guide: 25 reviews and 59 photos

A bit of history...

Cirrus Mountain dramatically looms 3270m (10,728 feet) above the Icefield Parkway, near the Athabasca summit.

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During the late 1700's, the presence of British and Canadian fur traders in Canada's West played an important role in opening the vast uncharted lands surrounding what is now known as Rocky Mountain House.

In 1799 the North West Company (Nor Westers') and the Hudson Bay Company established two fur trading posts known as Rocky Mountain House and Acton House. Fierce competition for the Indian trade with the Kootenay and the Blackfoot was the rule of the day until 1821 when the two companies merged. The Nor Westers' post was closed, but the name "Rocky Mountain House" remained. The original Hudson's Bay post was replaced, only to be burned to the ground during the winter of 1861 and replaced in turn by the final Rocky Mountain House completed in 1868. The fur trade era ended, however, when this last fort was closed in 1875.

Although these locations were established as fur trading posts, they were also used as a base for exploration. David Thompson, the famous explorer, surveyor and geographer spent several years here searching for a passage west to the Pacific Ocean. This search led to the extensive surveying and mapping of the west. His achievements are commemorated by the naming of highway #11west, "David Thompson Highway". In the early 1900's, a new wave of adventurers began to arrive.

They came seeking the opportunities offered by the numerous other natural resources in the area, and by 1912, the Town of Rocky Mountain House was firmly established. Many historic sites have been preserved in this area, like the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Park and Brazeau Collieries at Nordegg.

Rocky Mountain House is not in the mountains itself, but approximately 100 miles east, where the foothills merge into the Great Plains. The North Saskatchewan River was the chief transportation route through this area.

Today, the area is still relatively desolate, with a few logging and oil & gas companies exploring the area for resources. East of Rocky, there are numerous farms and ranches.

For a high resolution view of my GigaPan images, please visit my Gigapan web pages: GIGAPANS

Nordegg, coal town of the past.

About 90 km west of Rocky Mountain House lies the sleepy little ghost town of Nordegg which up until the 1950s was one of the largest coal mines in the province, dedicated to producing coal briquettes.

Today it is all but a memory. The town once boasted a population of more than 3000. Today it's barely 50. Regular tours can be taken of the old mines.

The gateway to the Rockies

Past Nordegg, the vistas change from miles of forested foothills and become dramatically changed to the spectacular Rocky Mountains, beginning with Mount Mitchener, named for The Rt. Hon. Roland Michener who was Governer General of Canada from 1967 to 1972.

Mount Michener sits on the far side of Abraham Lake and rises to nearly 8200 feet.

  • Last visit to Rocky Mountain House: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Dec 6, 2009
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Reviews (10)

Comments (14)

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2009 at 6:59 PM

    What an interesting tale of poor James Hector. I also absolutely loved Mt. Wilson. Craggy, rocky, mts. are my favorite. Great photos as usual.

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    Wonderful pages. It reminds me how much there is to see in that part of canada.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2009 at 11:03 PM

    Wobderful landscapes and lots of history! And the BEER cabin!

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2008 at 11:33 AM

    Beautiful photos and lots of interesting information on the RMH area! My wife drove east into Jasper on Hwy 11 in 2001 and were very impressed with the scenery! Too bad we missed that old tree!

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2008 at 5:26 PM

    Very interesting stuff. I love the Canadian Rockies.

  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2006 at 6:34 AM

    useful info accompanied by the usual outstanding photos ;-)))

  • jojocan's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2006 at 7:09 PM

    I love these! Sooo pretty! Can I have big posters like this???

  • keida84's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2006 at 10:41 PM

    What breathtaking photos!!! The cameraman has an awesome eye (but you know that already) thanks for sharing these and it is good to know there is a place to actually get a beer!! HAHA Thanks Dave

  • allikat's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2006 at 4:23 PM

    Love your photos, this looks like a truly stunning area. I would love to plan a trip but it may not be for a while.

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2005 at 1:02 PM

    Very interesting read, thanks, great links too. I couldnt get the Old Tree link to work, probably my provider though. (~_~)

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