Atlas Coal Mine welcomes 500,000 visitor right on schedule
On Sunday at approximately 1:00 p.m., the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site welcomed their 500,000th visitor with open arms.
Phani Adapa was the lucky visitor who was accompanied by his family for a trip to the valley.
Director Jay Russell was elated to see the sheer volume of visitors over the years.
“Well it feels fantastic obviously, it feels great,” said Russell.
Russell has worked at the historic site since 1994, taking on many different positions starting by taking on a summer job, consciously observing the rise of visitors as days went by.
“The visitation was only maybe 3,000 people a year so in the many years since my first summer here, we’ve increased exponentially,” said Russell.
“In my first year, I couldn’t imagine 500,000 visitors com- ing through here but now of course we are attracting people from all over the country to come and see our site.”
The Atlas crew was very eager to meet the lucky visitor, hoping to have a complete family take part in the milestone.
“It was right on the button where the very next family is going to come in and we’re hoping it would be a full family, single visitor. I mean which is fine of course, but it’s nice when the family can share that experience together,” said Russell.
With historic a year chock full of landmarks including
Canada’s 150th birthday, the famous coal mine has a few events already planned for the future.
“It’s been a year of all kinds of celebration but we have had the Tipple’s 80th birthday, and the Atlas Coal Mine’s 100th birthday and this fall we’ll have on October 7th, an official unveiling of the tipple when it is restored.” said Russell. “It’s also the year that we turn 30 as a museum.”
They plan to have the fourth and final phase of the large restoration project complete for the October 7 date.
Russell says the Atlas is a great place for Canadians to learn about their heritage, or people new to Canada.
“What are we about? We’re a place of knowledge, not only about industrial heritage but about the Canadian experience and a lot of people who came here are escaping other countries where things weren’t great.” said Russell. “What we are talking about are people who are actively becoming Canadians.”
With the many celebrations afoot for the year, the coal mine wishes to have their unique twist and make every visitor’s experience is one to remember. `“We have a story to tell and a story of Canada through the lens of our experience in Drumheller,” said Jay Russell.
Atlas Coal Mine Director Jay Russell poses for a photo with Phani Adapa and his family, the lucky 500,000th guest to visit the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site.